Meet Katherine Scott-Kirschner, PCUM's New Associate Pastor for Youth & Families!
On March 18, PCUM welcomed Katherine Scott-Kirschner as Associate Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair, with special emphasis on youth and families with children.
This is an exciting moment in our church’s life and ministry. With PCUM welcoming more and more young families with children and teens, we are re-committing ourselves to a second ordained pastoral leader to share ministry with Pastor Greg Horn. Katherine’s ministry will focus on creative programming for youth, building lasting relationships with young people and their families, and working with Pastor Greg and the leaders on Session to provide pastoral care, vision, and worship leadership to the entire congregation.
Katherine is a 2014 graduate of Smith College in Massachusetts and a 2017 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary. She is a Candidate to be a Minister of Word & Sacrament in our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), having completed both her theological education and the challenging Presbyterian ordination process. In her preparation for ministry, Katherine has served as a youth intern at Presbyterian churches in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and Johns Creek, Georgia; a hospital chaplain in Pennsylvania, and as a general ministry intern at the Presbyterian church in Kingston, New Jersey. In October of last year, Katherine married Donald Kirschner, also a Princeton Seminary graduate and a Licensed Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church. They plan to move to the Montclair area later this spring.
Katherine reached out to PCUM soon after the position of Associate Pastor for Youth & Families was posted last summer. In her cover letter to the committee she wrote,
“I felt compelled to apply for your Associate Pastor for Youth & Families position when I read that ‘PCUM is a supportive, vibrant, forward thinking church that seeks to know and be known by God in Jesus Christ—and to follow Jesus out of our comfort zones, into the real world.’”
Over the past nine months, the APNC received over 50 applications from ministers and soon-to-be ministers. From the moment we met Katherine, she stood out. Along with her sense of call to be part of this church family, she possesses unique gifts for ministry—a deep faith and trust in Jesus Christ, a confidence in and comfort with herself, and academic and intellectual gifts that complement her kindness and love for the church.
Initial contact and introductions in September with Pastor Greg and the committee led to more conversations throughout the fall, and in early December Katherine traveled to Montclair for the first time to meet with us in person.
She returned in January of this year for a weekend of more conversation, study, and worship with the APNC. On that Saturday, she led us in a Bible Study class, explored the Montclair area, and toured the church. She and Donald also shared laughter and a meal with us. The next morning, Katherine preached and led Sunday worship at a nearby church. By the end of that weekend, we knew God had led us to the right person, at just the right time.
Katherine describes her reasons for being drawn to our church and this ministry:
“One of the many things I loved about what I read (in PCUM’s advertisement for their Associate Pastor position) was the Christ-centered ministry that I could sense through the written words... I also loved the clear opportunity I will have to be in relationship with the entire congregation, even with my focus being walking along side the middle and high school aged students as their faith develops and deepens. There are many other things that I could point to from the conversations and meetings I have had with the APNC, Pastor Greg, and others. However, the one I will end on is this: PCUM is a vibrant community that truly cares for one another and the community you are part of (like Matthew 25:40)…and that outward approach to ministry drew me in so thoroughly and completely.”
Katherine is the eldest of three children, all of whom grew up in Bakersfield, California, where her family still lives in the same house in which Katherine grew up. Her mother, Julie Jordan Scott, is a writer and blogger, and her father, Ken, is an attorney. Katherine’s 20 year-old sister, Emma, attends a local community college and, along with their mother, can be seen performing in local theatrical productions. Her 16-year-old brother, Samuel, is on the varsity swim team in high school.
Our committee sees in Katherine Scott-Kirschner a gifted pastoral leader and a young woman with unusual depth, warmth and intellect. She will be a wonderful partner and leader here at PCUM, and she will be a devoted guide and resource to our teens and younger children.
Describing her experience with youth, Katherine says,
“When it comes to ministry with youth and children, relationships are the imperative base for all kind of theological inquiry and questioning… My goal [is] for students to take away something that will be meaningful for their faith journey both now and in their future. This is what energizes me in this ministry.”
Katherine brings rich experience following God’s call to serve the church and young people in varied settings. She has a deep love for Jesus Christ and a compassionate and reflective approach to scripture, to what a Christian community can be, and to developing meaningful relationships.
Your Associate Pastor Nominating Committee – Pam Foster, Joe Youn, Peg Scott-Fleming, Maria Squilanti, Tom Williams, Elizabeth Gabrielson, Susan MacKellar, Alan Jones, Jenny Gritsch, Lisa McElwee; and the Rev. Ed Clydesdale, PCUM’s liaison from Newark Presbytery