The Rev. Dana Amber Vaughn was welcomed by the congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Westfield as its new pastor and began her ministry Feb. 1.
"Reverend Vaughn stood out from all the other applicants as the one who had been sent by God to guide the future of our congregation," said Michael Ricketts, co-chair of the pastor search committee.
Pastor Vaughn came to First Presbyterian from Richmond, Va., with much experience and enthusiasm.
Rev. Dana Amber Vaughn
"I'm excited to be here, and I look forward to new ministry opportunities," she said. One of those opportunities includes a youth program for which she has ample experience.
After graduating with a B.S. in social work from University of North Carolina Wilmington, she pursued a Masters of Social Work at Radford University in Virginia. During her time there, she worked as a counselor for children, adolescents and families.
"In my final year of graduate school, I continued working as a counselor and also started working as a part-time youth director for a Presbyterian church. I remember calling my dad after I got the job and saying to him, 'Can you believe they're going to pay me to do this? I would have done it for free.' That was the first time I realized how passionate I was about working in ministry. It was a newly discovered passion that stirred up so much life within my soul."
Because she realized her lifelong passion was in the ministry, she studied for the next three years, pursuing a master's degree in theology and religion. During those three seminary years she had "many valuable experiences that allowed me to work in ministry with people of different ages from 3 to 94 and of varied backgrounds."
Having grasped the needs of her congregation in a month, Rev. Vaughn has begun her calling to Westfield with deep conviction.
"There's a lot of new programming happening at First Presbyterian that will provide people with many opportunities in which to take part in the life of the church. Our hope is that people - whether Westfield residents or those from neighboring communities - will be excited about the new programs occurring here, that folks will get 'jazzed up' about their faith again and enjoy our warm and loving community.
"There are several new programs that will be starting in the weeks ahead, so please visit the church website www.steeplesinthepark.com for a full calendar of events," she said.
Through the end of June, Sunday services are held at 11 a.m. at the Portage Street Presbyterian Church. During the summer services begin at 9:30 a.m.