Who are you?

My name is Amanda and I am RISE's pastor. I would like to know who you are and hear more of your story, too.

Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less.

I shall do that in hashtag form: #superenthusiasticaboutlifecoffeebagelslaughterallthingsIrishandthingsthatgrow.

But since I don't like to play by the rules, I'm going to go over 140 characters ... I have a cool husband named Jack and two kiddos, Abby and Robert. And my puppy Stewie is a bizarre mixture of Fozzy Bear, an Ewok and a sheep. He toilet papers our house several times a week.

What does a pastor do, exactly?

Well, I am not a "typical" pastor in many ways. So I can only speak for me. I drink gallons of coffee each day. I meet lots of people and listen to their stories, and I marvel at the resilience and hope in those stories. I try to help others hear the ways their stories intersect with God's story. I journey with and learn a lot from RISE's leaders. I do a lot of dreaming and constantly ask, "What if?" I try to figure out what I am going to say every Sunday morning at exactly 10(ish). In a nutshell, I like to think of myself as RISE's "Chief Instigator."

What have you learned about God since RISE launched?

I firmly believe that God has a marvelous sense of humor (I already knew this, but I have really experienced God's great sense of humor in and through RISE). God is playful and very creative.  God oozes grace and second chances, and somehow works through really ordinary and goofy people (like me). RISE has offered me glimpses of God's radical and inclusive love in ways that I never could have imagined prior to its launch. I could go on and on, but RISE and God both regularly remind me to talk less and listen more.

What have you learned about yourself?

I absolutely love starting new things. I experience indescribable joy when a dream (and God's Dream) intersects with reality. I basically am fueled by bagels and coffee. Life is short and precious, so I need to laugh, play and embrace others, and take more risks.

What are the last 3 best books you read?

Torn by Justin Lee, Mighty Be Their Powers by Leymah Gbowee and This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley

What are your top 3 U2 songs?

This is like asking which of my children I love more. But, I will try ... I absolutely love City of Blinding Lights, Bad and Grace. And Beautiful Day.  (I know, I know ... that is four ... but we are talking about U2 here, friends ... just choosing four is incredibly difficult).

What are your top 3 non-U2 songs?

Anything by Mumford & Sons, John Denver*, alternative 80's music (reminds me of high school and college), and I love Johnny Cash.

*I acknowledge that an affinity for John Denver is unusual for someone my age, but if you make fun of me I will leave on a jet plane

How do you feel about raisins?

I am fond of them, especially in my bagels.

What's the best way to contact you?

The best way is to call or text me at 540-324-3241 or email me at

Do you network socially?

I am on Facebook. Please be my friend. And you can follow me on Twitter (@ajmgarber).