Cynthia Langston Kirk, poet and minister, was born in Florida not far from the Sopchoppy River and was raised in the desert of New Mexico. Her love for stories emerged on her grandmother’s porch in a tiny Florida town and on the singing, story-telling trips between the Florida panhandle and the tumbleweed gardens of eastern New Mexico, both places formative to her life. She learned stories of the Christian faith in Sunday school and through the ways family and mentors lived their lives. Cynthia has a heart for stories, believing that as we tell our stories, share our stories and tell the stories of faith through the centuries, all who hear are transformed.
Cynthia was called into the ministry at age 17, but had no idea that ordained ministry was a possibility for women. She received her undergraduate degree in secondary social studies while working summers as a youth director. Her journey into ordained ministry was circuitous and long, marked with a period of being away from the church and intentional spiritual formation.
In the early 1980’s, she felt welcomed into a United Methodist Church and soon rediscovered God’s love for her and her longing to serve God. She discovered amazing ways of exploring and learning that revealed God as so much more and certainly beyond description, control or particular faith expression. Part of those discoveries unfolded in the rich environment of Claremont School of Theology where she received her Masters of Divinity and the Hoyt Hickman Award for Outstanding Liturgical Scholarship and Practice.
In 1997, Cynthia became an ordained United Methodist minister (elder) in the United Methodist Church and after many years in parish ministry as a lead and associate pastor, was appointed to Piecing Stories, a creative arts and spiritual formation ministry, in 2007. During this time she also served as part time hospital and hospice chaplain. In 2015 Cynthia retired from appointed ministry, but continues her ministry of Piecing Stories by writing liturgy, poetry and curriculum (primarily children’s Sunday school) and creating stoles.
Cynthia continues her social justice work, especially involved in sharing stories, writing and helping create a world where everyone is valued, included and treated fully as God’s beloved, especially working for LGBTQ awareness, gracious inclusion and civil rights.
In 2002, nurses were killed at the University of Arizona when Cynthia was a pastor at First UMC which is surrounded by the university. In 2003 Cynthia was robbed at gunpoint on the church campus, a gun to her head. In 2011, a mass shooting in Tucson left several dead and several wounded including then Senator Gabby Giffords. One of the wounded was a long time, dear friend of Cynthia’s. The continued rising death and survivor toll whether suicide, children discovering an unsecured gun, robbery, domestic violence or a mass shooting propel Cynthia to work for gun violence prevention. One of the ways she is doing that is by making orange stoles for clergy with a little piece of green for hope. Orange is the color of gun violence prevention because hunters wear orange to say ‘I’m here. Don’t shoot me’.
Cynthia and her husband, Les, live in Tucson, Arizona. Their four grown children and their spouses live on the West Coast, the Midwest and Tucson. Granddaughter Amelia lives in the Bay area; grandchildren Sophia and Charlie live in Des Moines; and goddaughter Willa and godson Evan live in Tucson.