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Leann Williams grew up primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Part of a church-going family, she first attended a Swedish Covenant church in Oakland, CA. It was there in childlike faith she began her walk with Jesus. Later childhood and teenage years were spent worshipping in a Bible church in Berkeley, CA. From those folks Leann learned a deep love of scripture and respect for those whose lives bore witness to their experience of walking with God. As a young person Leann desired to enter Christian ministry which at that time meant becoming a missionary or pastor’s wife since women were not ordained in her church.
In preparation for ministry with children, Leann attended Appalachian Bible Institute in West Virginia, and a community college in California to earn an early childhood certificate. She became a part of several church plants during her 20’s and 30’s where she developed early childhood curriculum and programs in these churches.
In the 1990s Leann began teaching in Christian schools as a kindergarten teacher and eventually teaching in Idaho at the high school level and finally in fifth grade. Teaching became a focus of her ministry in Hayden Friends church various settings for most of 15 years.
While a member of Hayden Friends, Leann became involved at NWYM and served in several positions. It was about ten years ago that God started stirring a leading to serve those who had walked away from traditional church. From that leading Bridges was born, an outreach ministry to those God gathered to reconnect with God and faith community.
Leann left teaching and retrained as a massage therapist about seven years ago. While developing her private practice, Leann started noticing that people brought their soul along with their body to receive ministry and healing. God was at work doing the healing and only asked for her to be a conduit in the process. This was not something learned in massage school! She began sensing a need for more training in spiritual accompaniment. The Way of the Spirit program provided valuable training and resources in her journey to become better equipped to provide soul care along with her healing touch. When regular retreats with WOS caused Leann to change her schedule, clients often asked about the program. In the context of scheduling a massage God was present bringing the conversation around to the deeper matters of the heart and soul that have an impact on physical health. In the trust relationship that develops between Leann and her clients God often nudges a client to ask about what it means to follow Christ, be a Quaker, or how to develop spiritual practices. Leann often calls herself a massage pastor. Her clients understand what that means.
Through the last several years Bridges has developed into a home church with a web of relationships throughout north Idaho. Former students, people who had once been part of a homeschool coop, parents of former students, massage clients, and other friends gather in different settings for spiritual nurture and care. Leann co-pastors Friends in Common which includes regular weekly meetings, book groups, women’s spiritual nurture groups, and pastoral care of whomever God brings her way.