From Our New Pastor

From Our New Pastor

Rev. Elizabeth Parker Horton

 Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ!  October 1st began a new chapter for us both.  I am honored and excited to begin as the Designated Pastor of First Reformed UCC.  As your DP, I have been called by the Consistory for 12 months.  At the end of our 12 months, we will determine whether or not to keep, expand, or discontinue our relationship. I will be meeting quarterly with the Executive Committee to evaluate how we’re doing.  I urge you to share your thoughts with me or with them throughout the year.  Now, I’d like to share some of my background with you so we can get to know each other better.

 I was raised in Walkertown, NC and graduated from Carver High School. My father was a school principal and my mother a school social worker.  I attended East Carolina University, with a BS in English Education.  Shortly after, I headed to Appalachian State University to receive an MA in School Counseling.  As you can probably guess, I really loved going to school!  I enjoyed 3 years working as an elementary school counselor in WS/FC school system before I felt led on a different path.  My experience working in the schools served as good preparation for ministry.  I remain a strong advocate for public education and the essential function it serves in our society.

 In 1999, the Divinity School at Wake Forest University opened, and I took a leap of faith by applying. I became part of the Inaugural Class, graduating in 2002 with a Master of Divinity. Initially, I did not set out to be a church pastor, but rather continue in the realm of counseling.  However, God is full of surprises, and I found myself falling in love with the art of peaching, creating and leading worship.

 Since I was reared in Walkertown First Baptist Church since infancy, I had every intention of remaining Baptist. However, after graduation, I found the doors continued to close for a Baptist pastorate.  Many of the congregations chose to interpret literally a few select verses of Scripture, which did not allow for a woman in the pulpit.

 God did open a window for me by connecting me with the good folks at First United Church of Christ, Winston-Salem. I served as Pastor of this church for 9½ years.  Since my resignation, I served as Interim Pastor at Christ UCC, Lexington, and as stated supply for Bethany UCC, Claremont. It has been in the UCC where I found a place to call home.  I am grateful for the UCC’s call “to take the Bible seriously but not literally,” and I firmly believe in our motto, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

 My spouse, Dan and I live in Kannapolis with 3 children, Megan (11th grade), Patrick (2nd) and Parker (Kindergarten).   Dan works for Carolinas HealthCare in Information Systems.  We have a dog, Kelly, and cat Bootsy.  My father, Earl, lives in a retirement community in Winston-Salem, and my mother died from breast cancer 4½ years ago.  In our house, we “struggle to juggle” like most other families with kids.  At any given moment you may hear fussing and feuding, or laughs and cackles.  We surrender at times to crazy schedules, drive thru suppers and undone chores.   For my sanity and my health, I do try to endure running 3-4 times a week.  (If you are one who enjoys this, please share your secret!)

 From my discussions with Consistory members about current concerns and needs, I believe my focus with you can be summed up in 3 C’s: Consistency, Clarity, and Connection.  This means we work to re-establish and maintain stability, communicate our expectations clearly between Pastor/congregation, and deepen our relationship with one another and with God.

 My position here is Part-Time, (20-25 hours weekly.) This might be a bit tricky for us because you and I both know that church life can be all-consuming if we let it.  We’ll need to prioritize and respect the boundaries around our covenant.

 Since we have a new beginning, I ask you to consider making a commitment to these 3 ways you can help First Reformed UCC make the most of our time and ministry together.

  1. Attend regularly worship services and activities with an open spirit. If you have been absent during the transitions over the recent months, please come back. You are needed here.
  2. Be financially faithful with your tithes and offerings. If you have withheld funds or decreased your giving, please make the choice to re-establish your contributions.
  3. Pray specifically for this congregation – that we may hear and follow where the Holy Spirit leads.

I look forward to gathering around the table of Christ on November 29th as we celebrate Holy Communion.

We have an amazing opportunity before us. Let’s make the most of what God is giving us in this very moment.

Go with God’s grace,

Pastor Elizabeth

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