Mt. Zion United Methodist Church Pastor Mary John Dye recently announced she will be finishing her service at the Cornelius church in July to move to a Statesville church closer to her home. She recently reflected on her time at Mt. Zion and her hopes for its future.
Herald Citizen: Tell us how you got involved in ministry and/or why you felt called to do this sort of work.
Mary John Dye: Although every pastor has a call to ministry story, mine is much longer than most because I had never seen a female minister and, in general, had been taught that the Bible was opposed to women ministers. So I resisted God's tug at my heart for many years . A call is a combination of an inner witness in the heart and and an outward confirmation of the church. Back in the 1970s there were very few women. It took a long time to be absolutely certain of God's call to me, and it took quite a few more years for the church to move past its reservations to confirm me. The benefit of that long struggle is that I have had complete confidence in God's call on my life, and I have had both understanding and compassion for those who found a woman minister hard to accept.
HC: How long have you been with Mt. Zion? How did you come to be there?
MJD: I was appointed to serve at Mt. Zion in July of 2012. In the United Methodist Church, we go where the bishop sends us.
HC: What are some memories involving your church that stick out to you?
MJD: The answer to this question would fill a book! Multi-volume! I have had the sweetest, tenderest moments with people and families from the youngest to the oldest. Many of the most precious memories are from worship experiences: I got to baptize triplets several months ago; next Sunday, I will confirm young people in their profession of faith at Confirmation; the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesdays; bereavement services at Christmas for those who have lost loved ones through the years. Besides a lifetime of wonderful worship and pastoral experiences, I will always remember the development of Mt. Zion's Senior Campus, the opening of Autumn Care (first phase of the Senior Campus Development) and the ministry from the church that has developed to the residents and staff of that facility. The next stages of the development will open up independent housing options and a Mt. Zion Senior Ministry Center. It has been a great privilege to watch this ministry develop.
HC: What is your next church assignment? And why did you decide to go?
MJD: I will be serving as senior pastor at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Statesville. As with my appointment to Mt. Zion (and for all United Methodist pastors), we are appointed to our churches by the Bishop. I am honored and thrilled to serve at Broad Street – a church I have loved and admired for many years.
HC: What will be the future of Mt. Zion's leadership?
MJD: In the United Methodist Church, leadership is a combination of clergy and lay leadership. Mt. Zion has extraordinary lay leadership, and they will be led by very gifted Senior Co-Pastors, Jonathan and Angela Marlowe.
HC: What are your hopes for Mt. Zion as it continues?
MJD: Mt. Zion is a church with a remarkable, God-size vision. In my years there, we have taken great steps toward making their long-prayed for, carefully researched visions a reality. Along the way, there has been significant initiative to build up a common concept of Christian community. My hope is that Mt. Zion continues to live into its vision.
HC: What do you hope to bring to your next church?
MJD: I bring a love of preaching, teaching and leadership for the challenges that Broad Street – and every church – faces in a changing culture. I bring a deep love of – and experience in – the United Methodist Church – which I believe has powerful, unique contributions for vibrant, vital faith in a rocky, ever-changing world.