Alumni/ae Spotlight: Rev. Mary A. Kelly

My present appointment is as Lead Pastor of the Urban Ministry Team of Buffalo, New York. Our team oversees three congregations in the City of Buffalo: Central Park, University, and Cleveland Hill United Methodist Churches. We’re in our second year of ministry to these diverse, active congregations. I am one of three clergy who share pastoral responsibilities among our charge; in addition, I handle the administrative work for all three churches. (My role as the Administrative Assistant at the former United/Buffalo program really honed my skills for this appointment!)

Just prior to graduation in the spring of 2005, my husband Jayme and I welcomed our son William, whom we adopted from Korea as an infant. So I became a mom and a full-time pastor at about the same time! At that time, I was already appointed to one of my current congregations; soon after it became two, and now three. I was ordained Elder in the former Western New York Conference in June 2009. Because I have a deeply- held passion for city ministry, I consider it a great privilege to have been appointed to my present charge. At United, I received a thorough education in Wesleyan Doctrine and Methodist History: a treasure-trove of social justice and holy living! I continue to be inspired by the lives of our Methodist mothers and fathers who chose the city as their mission field.

My most memorable moment at United happened early on in the first weeks of my schooling. Just days after 9/11 I was scheduled to preach for the very first time in front of our students and faculty. I was very nervous, imagining that everyone was expecting something terribly profound. Like all newly-minted preachers, I eventually came to the understanding that the Word of God was enough.

United’s former program on the Buffalo campus produced an extraordinary crop of servant leaders in a relatively short period of time, and I am immensely proud to serve alongside many of our gifted alumni/ae. I made so many enduring friendships during my time at United, and I continue to call upon my former classmates to offer me wisdom and advice. United helped me to understand the great value of our Methodist “Connection.”

Having worked closely with President Edwards for a number of years, I can wholeheartedly say that the value of a sound theological education cannot be understated! United’s programs helped me to discover “who I am” as a whole person: spiritually and intellectually, I was challenged at every turn to become more reflective, more thoughtful, and more spiritually informed.

I advise those thinking about joining United to get on with it! Although demanding, the rewards of a high-quality theological education such as United offers are unparalleled. As for those already enrolled, the best advice I can offer is to care for yourself while in the midst of this incredible process! Managing the demands of school, family, and church often take a physical toll (seminary weight gain, anyone?) and it’s important to put the self-care guidelines you’ll learn in class into daily practice as soon as possible. The Church needs healthy clergy if we are to meet the demands of our 21st Century world.

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