So she finds herself in a very comfortable setting serving as the church's interim rector. She says of St. Peter's and of the western U.S. in general, "It's like a comfortable pair of jeans."
Beem Beery has been the parish's interim rector for about a month, and is finding church members dedicated and willing to step in to get any job done. "They've been carrying the parish for a long time, so now it's natural that if it needs doing, they do it."
The Rev. John Filler, the parish's long-time priest, retired last May, and attendance has dropped, leaving only what Beem Beery calls "the righteous remnant," that is, those members who have stuck with the church through thick and thin. "They've been very faithful, very committed -- the pillars of the church," she said.
But things are looking up for the struggling congregation. Members and the Episcopal Diocese of Utah are waiting to hear from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for approval to build a low-income senior development on property adjacent to the church. Beem Berry believes the site is perfect, with a hospital and grocery store close by.
If approved, the facility would be the fourth such housing development owned by the diocese in Utah.
As interim, Beem Beery is charged with "helping the congregation work through such issues as who we are and what does God want us to do here?"
She sees herself as a quarterback within the congregation, "handing the ball off to those with talents" to get projects accomplished. The church "is God's project. We all have different gifts to share."
Beem Beery is hoping to build membership and to bring additional young families into the congregation. "One of the things I'd like to do is to forge connections with the base (Hill Air Force Base). She said often people being transferred to the base arrive before their belongings. Beem Beery can see a ministry of helping people connected to the base with the transition, providing a safe place to go for resources, including a toy closet for the children of those families.
She said that her challenge will be binding some wounds, putting the congregation back on track and helping the church find its vision. The other challenge, "is just being found," she said of the church, which is situated east of Highway 89 at 1204 E.1450 South.
Beem Beery has been in the ministry for 20 years, serving a variety of ministries. Married to an Air Force psychologist, she has served as a chaplain in a psychiatric hospital and as a school chaplain, a university chaplain and as an assistant chaplain at Air Force chapels in Frankfurt, Germany and the Netherlands. She has also served as rector of a large parish in Virginia. St. Peter's is the smallest parish she has served, but she said she's enjoying it.
Beem Beery said even as a child she had a spiritual nature. Back then, women weren't allowed to be Episcopal priests, but she had a great aunt who had a ministry in another faith. "I'd see Aunt Helen doing it and ask, why can't I? At 15, it became clear and direct that I did have a call from God."
She said that while some people go into the ministry because they love their church, she entered the ministry "be-cause I love God and I want to communicate that. I like to explain it by saying the denominations are different flowers in a garden and my flower is Episcopalian."