Katharine Zimmerman, 58, is the daughter of a United Methodist Minister in the Florida Conference. She lived in four cities as a child, but finished out her high school years in Orlando, Fla. Today she is a grant consultant and works closely with the Zion Children’s Home in the Bahamas. Read about her experiences as a PK in the Q&A below.
What did you like about growing up as a PK?
I’ve always had a love of travel because of [my father’s work in the Bahamas]. I was not xenophobic, or you just have to be Christian, or American or whatever. There was a real inclusivity that I grew up with. Not even being told that, but that is what I saw. That was a part of growing up in our family.
What was difficult about growing up as a PK?
People didn’t have a sense of boundaries for the pastor and family life, and part of it is somebody could be dying and it could be 11 o’clock or there’s a wedding at 7 p.m. and your dad is there or you get a call on a Sunday afternoon when you could be resting. Churches feel like they should be able to let the pastor and their family know what they want and need and what they should be doing. I didn’t get that a lot, a lot, but it was there. So I don’ t think people in churches have good boundaries about respecting family time or the privacy of the minister’s family.
Did you ever feel stereotyped?
Some people have expectations of what a minister’s child should be like. They think they’re going to be very, very good or just horrible. I have always felt like I was always in between. I never had the need to rebel, but I was very involved in the social rights movements in the ’60s, so I was a questioning child and believed in speaking my truth and was in leadership, so I wasn’t just sitting there on the couch and doing people’s expectations of that. Sometimes people would have the sense of who you ought to be.
Has your upbringing impacted you today?
It came around about five years ago that I could have the opportunity to work with my dad in the Bahamas to build a children’s home for abused kids and all of a sudden I ended up in my ideal job of ending up in international development and I get a laugh out of that because I wasn’t in a place where I was like, ‘Oh I really need to get back to do that,’ I was thinking, ‘My dad is getting older, someone really needs to take his place in the ministry in the Bahamas.’ …All of a sudden my calling as a teenager has happened and I know a lot of that was formed out of the church.
As a 19 year old I wanted to save the world. Well, I won’t. God will save it. I’ll be a part of it. I didn’t know what people needed, but now I can really do what I needed to do and with some maturity to know I’m serving with people, I’m not helping them… I’ve gotten a tickle out of it. That was my big dream as a teenager and now I’m really doing it, and now I’m having a lot more fun. I’m doing it authentically. I’m not worried about how this is going to look or will my life turn out the way I want it to? It’s just feels more in the moment… I’m doing the same thing my family did. I love God’s sense of humor and also, too, it’s become the life that I really love and want.