Faith United Church of Christ

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Faith Welcomes New Pastor

Faith Church welcomes our new pastor, the Reverend Monica Dawkins-Smith, who joined us on Sunday, January 13, 2013.

Pastor Monica

Reverend Monica Dawkins-Smith

Pastor Monica comes to us after having served five years as pastor of historic Salem United Church of Christ in Harrisburg, PA. She is a warm and engaging minister of many gifts, eager to journey with us here in State College at Faith Church.

Born and raised in Jamaica, Pastor Monica emigrated to the United States at sixteen to live with family in Ohio and attend college. She enrolled in the University of Cincinnati, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with a minor in Biological Sciences. In her early adult years in Ohio, Pastor Monica became a U.S. citizen and was briefly married. She has two children, a daughter and a son, who now live in Philadelphia and Ohio, respectively. In the years following her college graduation, she had a very extensive and award-winning career in business management, sales, and training. Over time Pastor Monica felt that she was being “pulled” to engage actively in ministry. Accordingly, she entered Lancaster Theological Seminary and received her Master of Divinity degree in May 2007. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry at Lancaster Seminary, expecting to complete her degree in 2015. The focus of her doctoral program is church revitalization and growth in small churches. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, landscaping, reading, and many kinds of music.

In May of 2007, Pastor Monica was ordained by the United Church of Christ and called to be Associate Pastor at Harold O. Davis Church in Philadelphia. In January of 2008, she accepted the position of Pastor at Salem United Church of Christ, Harrisburg. At Salem, Monica established a Sunday School and a Vacation Bible School for children. She also established three new outreach ministries - a food pantry, a used clothing ministry, and “plarning,” whereby plastic bags are converted into “yarn,” which is then used to weave mats for the homeless. Always actively involved in the community, Pastor Monica also took the initiative to build a community of leaders in the Harrisburg School District around the problem of bullying. She was able to pull the community together, handle resistance, get buy-in from the school district, and build consensus to implement training programs for students, educators and parents.

Pastor Monica currently serves the wider church in several ways. She serves on the Board of Directors for Penn Central Conference, as the chair of Strategic Planning subcommittee. She also serves on the Executive Committee of Lancaster Seminary Alumni/ae Council.

Pastor Monica brings not only relevant ministerial experiences, but also a wide variety of life experiences to her ministry. But beyond that, she has been described as, “simply terrific company. She is gracious, honest, and funny. She seeks the best in everyone….Her commitment to her faith is electrifying, and makes you say, ‘I want what she has.’”

We here at Faith Church are excited and grateful to welcome Pastor Monica to our community of faith.