A local mother takes on the world.
By Caroline Thomas/Special to The Malibu Times
Some people aren’t content with only a few directions in their lives. Ann Broyles is one of those unique individuals who are driven to experience the world’s offerings.
“She has a sense that her whole world is filled with variety and wonder and is worth exploring,” says husband Rev. Larry Peacock.
Many Malibuites know Broyles from Malibu United Methodist Church where she co-ministered with Peacock. Now she is becoming known as an accomplished writer and, among other things: world explorer, AIDS activist, Cherokee Nation member, missionary, et al.
Amidst the tumultuous climate of the early 1970s, Broyles left her hometown, Tucson, Ariz., to attend seminary school in Evanston, Ill. She fell in love with fellow student Peacock, but the early romance was mostly geographically difficult to maintain. While he graduated and started work in Whitmore Lake, Mich., she continued her studies in Illinois and adventured to South America for a semester in Peru. However, love won out, and in 1977 Peacock’s brother, also a pastor, married the couple.
An enticing offer two years later brought a chance to put an end to their long distance commuting and move Broyles back West. She became a minister in a church in Norwalk, Calif. and he found a position in nearby Maywood. Happily, their daughter Trinity Joy was born, but life in South East Los Angeles was hectic.
“We were looking for time to reflect and a more relaxed place to have our next child,” says Peacock.
The family moved to a Quaker retreat in Philadelphia, where they lived in a room above the library of the Center for Study and Contemplation. Justin Simon Broyles-Peacock was born there in Pendle Hill.
Then came the call from Malibu.
In 1985, they began their 12 years of co-ministry. Broyles says, “It is not unusual to see women as pastors, but having a married couple as the clergy was somewhat novel.”
“Sometimes it was hard to have separate lives from the ministry,” says Peacock. There is no indication from either party that too much closeness was the reason for Broyles’ departure from her official duties. In 1997, she decided to make a change and devote herself to new interests, including her blossoming writing career.
“It is easy for me, like writing term papers,” says Broyles. She contributed to several compilations before authoring her own book called “Journaling: A Spiritual Journey.” Recently, she forayed into the more competitive market of children’s literature.
“Shy Mama’s Halloween” (which recently won the Teacher’s Choice Award) caught the eye of publisher Jennifer Elliott of Tilbury House in Maine.
“This was one of those stories that is sent to us out of the blue,” says Elliott. “I fell in love with it and loved what it was about.”
It is the story of an immigrant family who struggles to understand American culture.
“All of my books are about transformation,” says Broyles. “If we begin teaching tolerance with children, then we as a society will begin to change.”
Broyles and her family have devoted a good part of their lives to teaching tolerance and helping less fortunate communities. She has long been a student of Latin cultures and language; the family ventured to Cuba eight years ago on a missionary trip to renovate an elementary school and a church.
Now their daughter has taken an interest in cultures south. A junior at Smith, Trinity Joy is spending a semester each in Cuba and Bolivia. Broyles recently returned to Havana to study and visit with her daughter and the friends they had made. She is an advocate of improved relations with Cuba and speaks passionately about the Cubano spirit.
“It is a friendly, safe place,” she says. “U.S.-Cuba relations are based on the early ’60s and the Cold War, and that is unrealistic for the 21st century. They have a lot to offer us, and vice versa. And we’re neighbors.”
Broyles was happy to see federal agencies take advantage of the recent Free Trade Agreement that allowed the U.S. to supply medical and food assistance to Cuba after the destruction of Hurricane Michelle. It was the first such assistance in almost 40 years.
Peacock seems unfazed by his wife’s many adventures and incarnations. “For 12 years it was ‘The Reverend and The Reverend.’ She wanted to do different things. Part of her gift, part of her calling is to write to connect with people.”
He somewhat jokingly adds, “She was probably relieved she didn’t have to look at my messy desk anymore.”