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’s in 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!

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Pastor’s Message

Dear Church,

As most of you know, I was fortunate enough to spend a week in San Antonio, Texas for the Festival of Homiletics (it’s a preaching festival). And while I was there, enjoying one sermon and lecture after another, I thought of a few things I want to share with you. So, here are my thoughts:

1. I really love listening to sermons. To me, the ideal sermon is about 25-30 minutes. But, I understand that everyone doesn’t fall into this category, so don’t worry, I’ll keep mine under 20 minutes.

2. It’s possible to learn from a sermon we don’t agree with. There was one sermon in particular that I did not (at all) agree with. Truthfully, I fear that the words preached could be damaging to young preachers (those new to ministry). However, even when we disagree with a sermon, there is always something that we can learn — and quite possibly, there might be more that we can learn from sermons we disagree with than those that move us to shout, “Amen!” Why? Because when we disagree with a sermon we have to articulate (at least to ourselves) WHY we disagree with the message. And that means we spend time chewing over what was said and evaluating our own positions. If we do this with a calm, sound mind, then we can learn more about why we view an issue/topic differently from others — and that can be a great learning experience.

3. There is always SO MUCH to learn about the Bible. I mean, SO MUCH. I spent 4 years studying Religion and Biblical texts in college, then 3 years studying Christianity and the Bible in Seminary, and I still learn new things about the Bible all the time. Why? Because the Bible is a deep, rich collection of different books, poetry, laments, histories, stories, and letters that tell us about the journey the Israelite people and the early church experienced with God.

4. My favorite preachers are nothing alike. Rev. Adam Hamilton from the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (pictured with me below) is an amazing preacher. But he’s mostly a teacher. On the Myers-Briggs, he’s a strong T (Thinker). He is not charismatic, but I learn so much from every sermon and lecture he gives (and that’s probably why he’s the pastor of the largest church in the country). Bishop Yvette Flunder is very charismatic and deeply passionate; she is most certainly an F (Feeler) on the Myers-Briggs. Every time I listen to her preach, I feel inspired to get up and do something. They’re extremely different and yet they’re both extremely gifted. What does that teach us? Our gifts come in all different forms, and we need to use our gifts instead of comparing ourselves to others (this pertains to everything, not just preaching). 

5. My goal in ministry is to help people fall as in love with Church as I have. Spending a week listening to sermons and lectures, and singing songs of praise, filled my Spirit in a wonderful and tremendous way. Nothing other than the church gives people an opportunity to put their heart and soul into something greater than themselves. I hope you can fall in love with God’s Church, because, friends, it’s amazing.

And yes, you’ll be hearing stories from this week for a while now, so bear with me! And thank you for being the kind of church that I can praise when I’m away, not the kind that leaves me griping (I heard plenty of griping while I was there!). You, my friends, are good people… you’re God’s people.

In Christ,
Pastor Elizabeth