PIF

A clean, easy-to-read version of my PIF (Personal Information Form) can be read and downloaded here, while the full version as it appears on the CLC can be found here.

Carol H. Ferguson

1917 Maylin Dr., Salem VA 24153
ferguson12@sbc.edu
(540) 819-4014

Ecclesiastical Status: PC (U.S.A.) Teaching Elder

Ordination Date: 6/26/16
Presbytery of Cincinnati

Formal Education

Union Presbyterian Seminary   |   M.Div 2016
Richmond, VA
Middle East Travel Seminar to Turkey, Israel, and Palestine, 2014
Reformation Travel Seminar to France, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary, 2013

Sweet Briar College  
|   BA 2012
Sweet Briar, VA
Phi Beta Kappa
Major: Classics
Minors: Art History, Religion, Medieval-Renaissance Studies

Continuing Education

Company of New Pastors, 2015 and ongoing

“Unity Matters:” Covenant Network Conference, November 2015
Central Presbyterian Church, Denver, CO
*Represented Union Presbyterian Seminary Admissions at this conference.

New Hope Pastors’ Retreat, October 2015
Trinity Center, Pine Knoll Shores, NC
Presenter: Dr. Christine Luckritz Marquis, Assistant Professor of Church History, Union Presbyterian Seminary
*Substituted for Dr. Luckritz Marquis for the final two lectures.

New Hope Pastors’ Retreat, October 2014
Trinity Center, Pine Knoll Shores, NC
Presenter: Dr. John Carroll, Professor of New Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary

PC(USA) Big Tent Conference, August 2013
Louisville, KY

“Emancipation’s Unfinished Agenda,” April 2013
Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond, VA
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mercy Amba Ewudziwa Oduyoye

Sprunt Lectures
Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond, VA
2015 Lecturer: Dr. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School
2014 Lecturer: Dr. S. Dean McBride, Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Old Testament Interpretation, Union Presbyterian Seminary
2013 Lecturer: Dr. E. Brooks Hollifield, Professor Emeritus of American Church History, Candler School of Theology

Certification/Training

Clinical Pastoral Education
Rex Healthcare, 2015

Skills

Language: English.

Leadership Competencies (as outlined by the PIF)
Hopeful: Maintains stability in the moment and hope for the future; provides direction, guidance, and faith when describing basic needs; and helps followers to see a way through chaos and complexity.
Preaching and Worship Leadership: Is a consistently effective preacher and worship leader; is able to inspire from the pulpit; communicates a clear and consistent message through sermons that are carefully prepared and artfully delivered; projects the identity and character of the congregation through worship leadership presence.
Spiritual Maturity: Shows strong personal depth and spiritual grounding; demonstrates integrity by walking the talk and by responding with faithfulness of purpose; is seen by others as trustworthy and authentic; nurtures a rich spiritual life; seeks the wisdom and guidance of appropriate mentors; is able to articulate a clear and consistent theology.
Teacher: Creates learning environments where students are active participants as individuals and as members of collaborative groups; designs lesson plans that teach concepts, facts, and theology; effectively uses multiple learning tools to reach a wide variety of learners; revises instructional strategies based upon ministry/organization context.
Communicator: Advances the abilities of individuals and the organizations through active listening supported with meaningful oral and written presentation of information.
Media Communicator: Has experience developing materials for a variety of written or multimedia forms of communications (print, Internet-based, social media, etc.).
Organizational Agility: Is astute about how congregations and/or organizations work; knows how to get things done through formal and informal channels; understands the importance of supporting good policy, practice, and procedure; appreciates the power in the culture of a congregation; is politically savvy.
Strategy and Vision: Sees ahead clearly, keeping focused on the larger picture; can anticipate future consequences and trends accurately; is future oriented; casts a compelling and inspired vision for a preferred future; sees possibility; crafts breakthrough strategies.
Collaboration: Has a natural orientation toward getting people to work together; shares wins and successes; fosters open dialogue; lets people finish and be responsible for their work; creates strong feelings of belonging among group members; is a good judge of talent and can accurately assess the strengths and limitations of others.
Interpersonal Engagement: Displays a consistent ability to build solid relationships of trust and respect inside and outside of the organization; engage people, organizations, and partners in developing goals, executing plans, and delivering results; use negotiation skills and adaptability to encourage recognition of joint concerns, collaboration, and to influence the success of outcomes.

Work Experience

Solo Pastor  |  July 2016-present
Crescent Springs Presbyterian Church, Crescent Springs KY

Supply Pastor   |   June 2014-May 2016
Warrenton Presbyterian Church, Warrenton NC
Warrenton Presbyterian Church is a small town church with roughly 15 members. I developed and led monthly worship services.

Chaplain (Clinical Pastoral Education)   |  Summer 2015
Rex Healthcare, Raleigh NC
Rex Hospital is a private, not-for-profit 660-bed hospital that offers acute care, a family birth center, two cancer centers, and two long-term care and rehabilitation centers. My primary responsibilities were for pastoral care, visitation, and record-keeping with the Cardiology unit and the rehabilitation center, with additional regular on-call duties for the entire hospital. Also participated in group training and reflection sessions.

Intern Minister   |  June 2014-May 2015
First Presbyterian Church, Henderson NC
First Presbyterian has roughly 175 members and is located in a small, struggling city.  I was responsible for the duties of Associate Pastor, including adult Christian Education, working with the youth group, pastoral care visitation, and meeting with session and other committees of the church. I regularly participated in planning and leading in worship, and preached monthly.

Pastoral Intern  |  Summer 2013
Salem Presbyterian Church, Salem VA
Salem Presbyterian is a 500 member church in a small college town. I worked under the senior and associate pastors to learn about and participate in the full-time ministries of the church. I accompanied the pastors on pastoral care visits, attended various committee meetings, and helped supervise middle-schoolers on a week of local missions. I taught a four-week adult Sunday School class, and helped lead Sunday services, one of which I developed and preached.

Admissions Tour Guide  |  2009-2012
Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar VA
I provided personalized attention to attract prospective students to Sweet Briar through postcards and tours, including follow up by mail, email, and social networking sites. I participated in Open Houses and other special Admissions events.

Academic Resource Center Tutor  |  2010-2012
Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar VA
I tutored students in writing, time management, and stress management. I worked with students one-on-one in order to increase writing skills and confidence.

Rescue Mission Chaplain’s Assistant  |  Summer 2010
Roanoke Rescue Mission, Roanoke VA
The Rescue Mission serves the homeless population of Roanoke, VA. I worked with the children’s summer camp, averaging 20 children from the Mission and 15 volunteers from local churches a day. Duties included preparing snacks and meals, monitoring campers during transport, reporting back to the Mission, giving first aid, supporting program volunteers during activity periods, cleaning facilities, and most importantly, guiding, supporting, and affirming over 50 homeless children over the course of the summer.

Staff Secretary  |  Summer 2009
Salem Presbyterian Church, Salem VA
Salem Presbyterian is a 500 member church in a small college town. I created weekly bulletins and monthly newsletters, kept track of the staff schedule, handled mailings and telephone calls, oversaw volunteers, ordered supplies, worked with the database and with page layout programs, and coordinated between the church staff and the greater community.

Service to the Church and Denomination

Union Presbyterian Seminary
Academic Programs Committee: Student Representative, 2015-2016
Preaching and Worship Professor Search Committee: Student Representative, 2015
PC(USA) 221st General Assembly 2014: Theological Student Advisory Delegate for Union Presbyterian Seminary. Served on the Peacemaking Committee and International Affairs Committee.
Seminary Support Network: Union Presbyterian Seminary Student Representative, PC(USA) Big Tent Conference, 2013

PC(USA) Online Journal Justice Unbound

“Courage to Speak,” June 2014, <http://justiceunbound.org/carousel/courage-to-speak/> Republished in Presbyterians Today, August 2014; Associated Church Press: Award of Excellence for Reporting and Writing, Personal Experience, Short Format

“Her Voice Matters: Women’s Colleges and Female Empowerment,” March 2015, http://justiceunbound.org/carousel/her-voice-matters/

Pulpit Supply
Salem Presbyterian Church, Salem VA
23 August 2015: “Choosing Our Armor”
6 September 2015: “A Crisis at the Border”

Amherst Presbyterian Church, Amherst VA
23 February 2014: “Mission Impossible”

Week-long Mission Trips with Salem Presbyterian Church, Salem VA
Covington, VA, 2011 and 2012
Clintwood, VA, 2010
Grundy, VA, 2007
New Orleans, LA, 2006

Narrative Questions

  1. Describe a moment in your recent ministry that you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.

In February of 2014, tragedy struck close to home: three young Muslim students were shot by a neighbor about forty-five minutes from the church I served. The same week, a young Christian mission worker in Syria was executed. I was set to preach that Sunday.

I love preaching. It gives me permission to jump deep into scripture and go scuba diving for treasure. I had the great joy of preaching monthly at this church, and had been proud of several sermons, but this was different. The Spirit urged me not to ignore the loss of sacred life just down the road. My earlier preparation was not wasted, however; the powerful, light-filled presence of Christ I had found in scripture allowed me to view the tragedy with a lens of hope, that we might find life-giving ways to honor the dead. While I always have a sense that the Spirit co-writes my sermons, that week I truly felt that I was proclaiming God’s word to God’s world.

Of course, a sermon is only words, and it could not bring our neighbors back to life, or freeze the bombs that fall on Syria. But the power of words—and of the Word—should not be underestimated, and the sermon created a much-needed space both to grieve and to hope faithfully for the congregation. One congregation member described my sermon as “sharing with us other hungry beggars the bread you’d found.” The sermon was healing and empowering for me and for others as a way to move beyond fear and finger-pointing and towards participating in God’s healing, sacrificial love.

  1. Describe the ministry setting to which you believe God is calling you.

I feel primarily called to smaller church ministry, although I am open to God’s surprises. I believe strongly in the small church as the center of robust, relational ministry, and have been blessed to serve in two such churches. In my first call, I seek a church I can grow alongside as we all discover how to love more deeply and serve more faithfully. I affirm the Protestant conviction that we are a priesthood of all believers, and value a strong and engaged lay leadership. I appreciate churches which have a sense of their place in the long and winding Christian story, but are also deeply rooted in their particular location.

I bring to a ministry setting energy, curiosity, creativity, love for the past and hope for the future. Because of this, I value congregations who are thoughtful, diverse, and flexible, where love is lived out and fear has little fertile soil in which to take root. I seek a congregation that takes their relationship with God seriously and joyfully, and which is interested in growing in faith as well as numbers. I also seek a church in which conflict is handled openly and honestly, with an eye to the new wisdom that conflict can bring. Finally, I value a congregation that holds the institution of the church (and their pastor!) gently, with love, patience, and humor. Trusting in God’s grace, I hope we can walk this pilgrim journey together.

  1. What areas of growth have you identified in yourself?

As a Christian, I firmly believe that we are all continually growing as children of God and disciples of Christ. As a first-call pastor, I am excited for new opportunities to grow in ministry and in faith.

I have recently made progress in staying engaged with people in times of conflict, pain, or stress. As a classic introvert, I have preferred solitude in order to process such events. When I have the time, this can be useful, giving me clearer vision and helping me to respond carefully. During the heat of the moment, though, I have also had a tendency to mentally disengage in order to create the space I need. In disengaging from people, though, I miss the opportunity to be Christ’s presence to them and see Christ’s presence in them. Therefore, during my parish internship and my Clinical Pastoral Education training (chaplaincy) in the hospital, I worked on staying visibly engaged when the stakes were high. By trusting God and trusting myself, I developed a ministry of presence that is attentive, alert, calm, and responsive. Like all humans, I don’t always achieve this goal (thank God for grace!), but I have learned that my love for people can withstand the pain loving people can involve. I intend to continue working on this ministry of presence, so that I won’t miss a moment of the path the Spirit is leading us down.

  1. Describe a time when you have led change.

 Music is crucial to my worship and experience of God. I was therefore thrilled when the PC(USA) debuted its new hymnal, Glory to God. We began using them at the seminary, and I saw how they re-energized and broadened our worship. My internship church, however, was still using the 1990 “blue” hymnal when I arrived. Because I believe change should spring from the needs of the congregation and not the wants of the pastor (and because I do like the blue hymnal, which I grew up with), I didn’t broach the topic until later in the year, after several church members mentioned they felt worship had a tendency to be staid and predictable. I wondered if introducing Glory to God might be a small change with big consequences. The senior pastor agreed, and we brought in the music director, who was very enthusiastic. We began an educational campaign that involved conversations, newsletter articles, and advocating with the Session; I also taught a four-week Sunday School class on Glory to God. Because we managed to bring most of the congregation on board through these efforts, it was not difficult to find financial support through donations and dedications. My very last week, we finally put the hymnals in the pews. I watched with awe as one of our elders, an orderly, observant man, matched each dedicated hymnal to the place where the person to whom it was dedicated normally sits. Those hymnals contain the past of that congregation, but will also lead it to a new and ringing future! 

Statement of Faith 

I believe in the Triune God, everlasting and intimate, who baffles our human laws of can and can’t and whom we glimpse as Rock, Breath, Carpenter, Truth, Grace, Power, Laughter, Solace, Hope…

I believe in God, who cradles the whole world in God’s hands, who rejoices in us but grieves how we have forgotten to care for each other. God created us in God’s image from earth’s dust and God’s breath. God claimed the Hebrew slaves of Egypt as God’s own, freeing, feeding, and guiding them. God speaks through prophets and poets—and many whose voices we forget and ignore—to remind us we were made to walk together towards a holy mountain. Patient beyond measure and spilling over with loving-kindness, God pursues us with goodness and mercy and a relentless promise to be our God.

I believe in Jesus Christ, who is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus is fully human, fully divine—God playing by our rules that we might learn to play by his. Jesus mended lives, broke rules, cast out demons, welcomed children, wined and dined the wrong set of people, and told us new stories in which the realm of God was not a theory but a promise. Afraid of the change Jesus brought, we charged him with heresy and hung him on a cross. Yet even in death, Jesus’ arms were stretched wide. On the third day the women found the tomb empty, and Jesus raised from the dead, and death’s power shattered, and our salvation secured. Now the cross is the compass that points us straight to Love.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, who soared over the first waters, inspired prophets, and proved that God was not isolated in a temple or the distant heavens but present in every moment at every place. The Spirit descended into the gathered peoples at Pentecost, breathing passion and courage into the disciples, and consecrating the church to take up the work that Jesus began in Galilee. She lurks in ordinary things, turning them into vessels of Grace. The Spirit shapes us, giving us different gifts, and unifies us, like puzzle pieces joined to restore us to imago Dei, jagged edges and all.

I affirm the Holy Scriptures, a diverse set of ancient texts by which we know both God’s story and our own. Through human witness and the Spirit’s voice, the scriptures bring us comfort and challenge both. I affirm the Church—the holy collection of those who have done their best to be God’s presence in the world, which is as fallen and redeemed and precious as the people inside her. I affirm the Sacraments, Baptism and Communion, in which the stuff of life—juice, bread, water—becomes Life itself, reminding us that Grace suffuses every ordinary moment of life. These ancient sacraments bind us with God and one another. I affirm the real existence of Sin, the vandal marring our ability to bear God’s image in the world, isolating us from God and neighbor, destroying lives and breaking God’s heart. I affirm Salvation, that God does not abandon us to our mess but will always come to free us again—from slavery, sin, and even death. Amen. 

References available on request.  

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