Our Redeemer’s Council Corner | Member Bio – Emilie Purvine
Greetings Our Redeemer’s Congregation! It looks like it’s my turn to introduce myself in the “Council Corner”. I’ll start with my faith history and how I came to join this wonderful church. I was born, baptized, and raised Lutheran. Church was always something we did in my family; we attended church on Sundays, I got confirmed and participated in some youth group stuff. But for a long time, faith was not something I felt within me. For example, in my confirmation statement I misspelled confirmation as “conformation”. It was probably an honest typo, but perhaps subconsciously I felt like I was “conforming” to expectations. In high school I had a singular experience of feeling the Holy Spirit around me and within me, and that feeling has remained a touchstone for me for all these years since then. Whenever I had a moment of doubt, I’d remember that feeling and know that even though I had doubts my belief was strong. But even then, in college and graduate school I wasn’t a regular church goer. When I found myself in my first job out of grad school in Tri-Cities, WA I joined a church mostly because I felt like I “should”. But I never really felt like I “belonged”. So, when my husband Sam and I moved over to Seattle in January 2016 I wasn’t in a rush to find a new church. But then something happened in the middle of 2016; my grandmother died after an acute recurrence of cancer. At her funeral, while listening to the pastor’s eulogy, it hit me how her faith shaped her whole person. I hadn’t fully realized until then that the things I most looked up to her for were because of her faith. I wanted to find that faith within me, and I did that at Our Redeemer’s. Or at least I’ve started. Almost overnight, since I found Our Redeemer’s, church and faith became not just something I did but something I was.
My first impressions of Our Redeemer’s were from the pastors. I came two weeks in a row and both Pastor Kathy and Pastor Gretchen remembered my name and greeted me like friends.
I started attending theology on tap and volunteering with Ballard Sunday Dinner and getting to know more of the congregation through those activities. I’ve enjoyed being a part of those things plus the generosity team, social justice team, worship, and now on council. At one of our women’s retreats I got hung up on part of a conversation where I couldn’t think of a time where I had to be “really strong”. I’ve led a pretty low-key life. The phrase “take risks” got stuck in my head and I couldn’t shake it. Soon after that I was approached to join the council. Normally leadership like this is not at all what I’d go for. I’m more of a “go with the flow” person not a “make decisions” one. But that phrase “take risks” kept pushing at me. So, I decided to go for it! I joined council 3 years ago and became secretary in July 2020.
Professionally I’m a mathematician and data scientist with nearly 10 years at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory after my PhD. I enjoy trying to make sense of large piles of data (numerical or just synthesizing information). And I really like the challenge of boiling down what I do in a way that anybody can understand. If you ask me what I do I’ll try my darndest to explain it in an intuitive way, and I always welcome questions. I enjoy educational outreach and encouraging young people to not be afraid of math. If you have kids who “hate math” it’d be a fun challenge for me to try and change their minds by showing them where math hides in unexpected places!
As you might expect from my career, I’m incredibly analytical. This means I need time to process things before I can respond. I don’t throw ideas out in the open until I’ve thought about them and am sure I want other people to hear them. As a result, sometimes I seem very quiet, maybe like I’m not engaging. But I assure you I’m listening and trying to formulate my opinion and thoughts into a response. I often have a hard time finding an opening in conversation because I spend too much time thinking about what I could say and by that time the conversation has passed me by. If asked, I will contribute my thoughts as they are at the time.
I’ve enjoyed the conversations I’ve had because of council, but I know I need to do a better job of stepping outside of my comfort zone and having conversations with people I haven’t built relationships with yet. I’m pretty horrible at small talk, but I do want to get to know people. I’m kind of an extroverted introvert. I love community and fellowship when I know the people, so I welcome outreach via a phone call, text, or email. Pull me out of my comfort zone and get to know me and I’ll get to know you☺. In the meantime, I’ll try to do a better job of that myself!