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First service is Aug. 25
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — After an eight month search, Wake Forest Presbyterian has a new pastor.
Rebekah Maul of Brandon, Fla. has accepted the position and begins work Aug. 19. Her first service is the following Sunday, Aug. 25.
The 750-member church has had only temporary pastors since May of 2010, when senior pastor John Hartman left.
Until then, Hartman had only been the second pastor in the church’s 21-year history.
That upheaval, along with dissension from the national Presbyterian Church’s decision in 2010 to support same-sex marriage, has led to some loss of membership, according to Kevin Meese, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church’s elder in charge of communications.
“We’re all just really excited and we want to let everybody know what’s happening in our church,” Meese said. “It’s been 39 months and we’re all looking forward to starting anew. You want to be able to plant the flag and start growing again and I think she’s going to be a wonderful addition to our community and to our church.”
Maul has a record of stability that seemed to please Meese and the Pastor Nominating Committee at Wake Forest Presbyterian. She’s only worked at two churches in her career, first as associate pastor at Trinity Presbyterian in Pensacola, Fla. from 1982 to 1996.
And she served as pastor and head of staff at the First Presbyterian Church of Brandon from 1996 to present day.
She has also worked as a consultant and trainer with Stephen Ministries’ ChristCare Small Group System from 1996 to 2006. ChristCare helps lay leaders and congregations grow their faith through small support groups.
She has moderated various presbytery task forces in the past five years and was commissioner to the national Presbyterian Church’s 203rd and 214th general assemblies in 1991 and 2002.
Maul is married to her husband Derek, an author. They have two grown children and one grandchild.
She attended Stetson University in Florida, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the arts and earned her master of divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia in 1982.
An online resume on Wake Forest Presbyterian Church’s website describes Maul as thoughtful, practical, capable, enthusiastic, inspirational and visionary, who cultivates these qualities among her staff and who is committed to equipping church leaders and empowering them to serve.
“My greatest joy, is to watch people discover their spiritual gifts, and then to explore how they can utilize those gifts to strengthen and transform their life of faith,” she is cited as saying. “I am a firm believer in training people to actually live their calling to serve, and then to get out of their way. I am not a micro-manager; I expect others with those gifts to actually do the leading in ministry that they are passionate about.”
Maul cites the church’s search committee’s thoughtfulness, honesty, “genuine” love for each other and community and their appreciation for her humor among her reasons for accepting the position.
“They did not try to sugarcoat anything about your most recent history and some of the struggles and challenges the Wake Forest church has had to face,” she said in an online video message to the congregation, referencing a personal situation that led to Hartman’s departure.
The nominating committee sought someone who would serve long-term and help provide for financial stability. Plans to meet those goals will be formulated after she begins work, Meese said.
He credited Dr. Joel Alvis as helping guide the church in the year and a half he was interim pastor. Alvis’ last day was June 30.
“He was really a tremendous help in allowing us to transition to where we are now,” Meese said.
Maul said she feels that God had a hand in directing both herself and the church committee toward her decision to relocate.
“It’s obvious that you all wanted to continue to grow deeply in your passion for Christ,” she said in her message.
When she was asked to take the job on Skype, an online video chat service, “I almost cried,” she said. “I am so excited about beginning our next chapter in ministry and mission, together. God’s hand has been guiding all of us to this point.”
More background about Maul is available at wakeforestpres.org.