To the Highland Presbyterian congregation and friends,
Bethany and Leo and I are so excited to join the Highland Presbyterian Church family! We have spent the last three years in Longmont, CO and have loved our adventure out west, but know that God is calling us back to our southern roots. I’m a native Tennessean; born and raised in Memphis and attended UT Chattanooga, earning a degree in religion. Bethany was born in Morristown, TN and was raised outside of Atlanta, GA. Bethany and I met the night before the first day of classes at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta and the rest is basically a romantic movie. Following seminary, we spent time in New Mexico and Florida before moving to Colorado. Bethany and I love being in the outdoors; hiking and camping are big passions of ours (we took Leo camping for the first time at 7 weeks old). We enjoy cooking and especially eating good food. We are what we call “bad vegetarians,” mostly eating a vegetarian diet but cheating with a little chicken and fish. We go for walks with Leo to relax after long days, do our best to cover Beatles’ songs, and love a good night of trivia or board games.
Over my ministry I have had experience in church camps, hospital chaplaincy, and various sized congregations. Youth ministry and service to others are places where I have found much joy in my ministry. So, when I first read the description of what Highland was looking for in a minister, I felt a sense of intrigue and excitement. As we began conversations and I was able to visit in person, I knew that God was calling us together. I love the description and passion that Highland has for service to the local and global community. I can’t wait to meet the youth and families and figure out all the fun events we can do together. I’m so impressed with how active of a congregation you are. I believe that my experiences and gifts will blend well with the passions and desires of Highland and I look forward to fruitful ministry together.
Although the world is very different than when I first started talking with the Pastor Nominating Committee, I know that we can still do a lot of great ministry right now. This time of social distancing and extra safety precautions can be frustrating, but will also push us to be imaginative and resilient in how we continue to be the Church and a presence in the Maryville area. We can’t wait to move Tennessee and meet all of you.
Thanks and blessings,
Rev. Matthew Benz-Whittington