After changing its name in spring, Sedgefield United Methodist Church has welcomed a new pastor.
The Rev. Carol Carkin, 34, became the church’s senior pastor in mid-July, replacing the Rev. A.J. Thomas, who moved to Morehead United Methodist in Greensboro. In the United Methodist denomination, bishops regularly reappoint pastors to different churches.
Carkin previously served as the pastor of two small Methodist churches in Greensboro.
Carkin said she looks forward to carrying on the revitalized mission Thomas started. Carkin became friends with Thomas in divinity school.
Sedgefield United Methodist will be the largest church she has led.
“This church is such a jewel for me because we have such committed people who use their talents,” Carkin said. “Serving as pastor is a chance to teach and the chance to have an outward focus.”
Carkin grew up in the Charlotte area. She graduated from Independence High School in 1996. She and her husband, Jesse Carkin, have a 4-year-old son, Isaiah.
Carkin said she knew she wanted to be a pastor in high school, but she had been interested in ministry long before.
At age 10, she would pull her family aside when visiting her grandparents, to read the Bible and sing hymns; then she would give a short sermon. During a period where her family attended a small church in Charlotte, its female leader would sometimes introduce Carkin as “the future pastor of the church.”
Carkin attended a Christian youth theology institute at Emory University during a summer in high school, where she lived for a month with 60 teenagers from around the United States. The group focused on social-justice issues.
“It was a really good chance to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be,” she said. She found her voice during a group debate on racism and power.
“I had gone thinking I wanted to be a Christian counselor,” she said. "But I realized I had too much to say just to sit and listen in an office.”
Carkin wrote her high school senior exit project on women in ministry and went on to attend Roanoke University in Salem, Va. She received her master’s degree in divinity from Duke University.
Under Thomas, the church began to reach out to young adults and families. Carkin is continuing that effort to open the church to the community.
The church was founded in 1948 and changed its name from St. Paul United Methodist in spring to better connect with the neighborhood. It also has opened its buildings to community groups.
“The building we’ve been blessed with is not just locked up during the week,” Carkin said. “We love that our parking lot is full most nights of the week.”
The church has hosted a summer reading program, neighborhood meetings and a Cub Scout interest meeting. In September, Keystone Montessori, a new school, will begin using the church on weekdays.
Carkin said she likes that the church’s size – Sunday attendance averages about 90 – gives it a community feel and that more young people are attending. She and her husband already are part of Sedgefield’s Wednesday night young adult Bible study, and she is continuing the Wednesday communion service started by Thomas.
Sedgefield United Methodist meets 9:30 a.m. Sundays for Sunday school and at 10:30 a.m. for worship service. The church is at 2830 Dorchester Place. For more information, visit http://stpaulcharlotte.org.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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