Meet the Pastor

20160528-_DSC5504Rev. Elizabeth Duffy has served as Pastor of Zion United Church of Christ since 2010. She lives in Amherst with her husband and two children.

Pastor Elizabeth has a Master of Divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology, and a Bachelor’s degree from Saint Lawrence University with a double major in Government and Religious Studies (or as she says, the two things you’re not supposed to talk about).

Pastor Elizabeth received her call to ministry when she was a sophomore at St. Lawrence; it was a powerful moment when God stopped Elizabeth in her tracks and spoke to her, not with an audible voice but with an overwhelming presence, telling Elizabeth that she needed to go to Seminary.

Pastor Elizabeth was raised in the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ. She then attended a United Methodist Divinity School and was ordained in the United Church of Christ. She considers herself a liberal-evangelical who is in love with the Lord and welcoming to all.

Want to know more? Come join us for worship or send the pastor an email. We hope to hear from you soon!



Pastor’s Message

Dear Church,

This past Monday at Bible Study (God’s Story: Your Story, Mondays at 7pm), we read through our lectionary texts and then we did an activity that I had learned from Rev. Freeman Palmer at our Association Event this past Saturday. The activity was to discuss our church’s Biblical Story.

To do this, everyone present explained the reason they not only came to Zion UCC but stayed at Zion UCC. Reasons ranged from being kicked out of other churches because of divorce, to finally being “seen” and cared for by others. Before finding our scripture verses, we had to narrow down our list of reasons for joining the church. So this is the top selection of reasons why our Lenten Bible Studiers are here at Zion UCC:

  1. The church is welcoming
  2. The church is safe and non-judgmental
  3. The greeter knew their name when they returned for a second visit.
  4. We’re like the “Island of misfit toys”

These amazing reasons people have found a “home” at Zion UCC led us to two scripture lessons explaining our church. One is Isaiah 43:1:

But now thus says the Lord,

   he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine. 

Why Isaiah 43:1? Because people can come to Zion and finally be SEEN and LOVED and KNOWN. It’s so important for people in this world to be truly SEEN. Stories that led us to this verse included a member of the church offering to take a young child to the nursery so a mom could enjoy worship; unlike some churches where children aren’t welcome, children are VERY welcome here at Zion, but church members also find ways to help parents and let the parents relax and worship.

The second verse was Matthew 5 or any verse/chapter where Jesus is welcoming people. Matthew 5 is the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus speaks to thousands of people who came to listen to him. Gentiles and Jews, rich and poor, healthy and sick, men and women, young and old: everyone came to listen to Jesus, and EVERYONE finally felt valued and loved when they listened to Jesus. Even when they were not valued by society, they were valued by Jesus. Someone at Bible Study mentioned that we’re kind of like the “Island of misfit toys”. No matter who you are, what you look like, what job you have, whether you’re financially comfortable or just scraping by, no matter where you fit on any spectrum, no matter what church you were kicked out of or why, you’re TRULY welcome here. Not many churches can say that. Together, we make a beautiful, faithful community that is trying our hardest to follow Jesus and be His disciples. We don’t push people towards uniformity, we invite everyone to be who God calls them to be.

Monday night left me, and hopefully everyone else, with so much pride and hope for our church. It’s no wonder why people come here to visit, stay. We’re not perfect, and we know that, but the church isn’t supposed to be perfect. Together with our gifts and our imperfections, we come together to be ONE with one another and with God.

So Church, as you’re reading this, know that you are LOVED, you are VALUED, and you are SEEN. And no matter who you are, you BELONG here, just as you are. And together we will make our way through this journey of life, following Jesus and welcoming all.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Elizabeth