Karen McClain Kiefer resides in St Andrews and has been an active member of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church there for over four years, having most recently served as the office administrator, PA and digital media specialist. She is currently pursuing a PhD in the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews, after careers in corporate management, IT and consulting followed by service in pastoral, social and theatre ministry. Originally from Ohio, Karen has lived in several regions throughout the US, including Maryland, Northern Arizona and Minnesota where she earned a Master’s degree in Theology and a Spiritual Direction certificate at Saint John’s School of Theology, a thriving Benedictine university with a strong spirit of ecumenism.
With a rich background in both creative and technical communications in a variety of contexts, Karen felt particularly called to digital mission as lockdown restrictions fell upon us in early 2020. She drew inspiration from Esther in the Hebrew scriptures who was told by her uncle Mordecai that she was made ‘for such a time as this’. Amid the chaos and confinement of the initial phase of the pandemic, God worked in unique ways to help her respond in this time. Her inner strategic planner sprung into action identifying areas of impact in the church community and mobilising swift initial responses with consideration for longer term impacts. She believes the most significant impact was to our sense of community itself:
What seemed to be common across congregations in 2020 was desire and creativity – desire to stay connected and creativity to adapt to make it happen. I believe in 2021 we are called to further engage our creativity as we reassess the past year, and reimagine our communities based on how God is calling and equipping us to encourage and accompany others. I look forward to helping our diocesan community reassess and reimagine in 2021.
– Karen, February 2021
In her PhD research, Karen is exploring theological and theatrical contexts of ‘empty space’ with emphasis on improvisation and Holy Saturday. Karen is a community theatre co-founder, director, improvisor, and a certified Advanced Practitioner of Playback Theatre. Some of her practical work emphasises collaborative and improvisational storytelling (and producing/directing unconventional performances in unconventional spaces – including Zoom!). She also avidly enjoys hiking, skiing, and taking in the breathtaking beauty of this rugged and wonderful country.