Fayetteville: New UCF pastor brings nurturing nature

Rev. Linda Even will formally begin her term as pastor at the United Church of Fayetteville this Sunday. A special service will be held mid-afternoon. Even, who didn't embrace spiritual life until she was adult, felt "truly called" to serve with the congregation here.

"I was captured by their intellect, their creativity, their compassion and their historic ministry and witness," she said of UCF and its people.

The Pennsylvania-born pastor grew up in the greater Philadelphia area. She earned her four-year degree in biology and chemistry as well as an MBA in "not-for-profit administration" at Pennsylvania State University. It was during her time in business school that Even felt drawn to attend church for the first time in her life.

"My feelings were largely inarticulate," she explained. "There was a hole in my life that I can now name as spiritual. The community of faith had, for me, and has for others, I believe, a transformational power for wholeness."

Even was baptized at the State College Presbyterian Church, worked with the youth, was ordained an elder and eventually felt a call to ministry. Her education continued, this time in Chicago, at McCormick Theological Seminary, where she earned a Masters of Divinity degree. Ten years later, in 2002, she became a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Theology from Drew Theological School in New Jersey.

Even recently moved to Fayetteville from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she was an associate pastor at the Mount Washington Presbyterian Church. Her special areas of expertise are congregational nurture, pastoral care, writing, preaching and leadership.

On Sunday Nov. 11, parishioners will gather for her installation as the church's seventh pastor. At the ordination, Even will be asked to make a number of vows, one of which is to "serve the people with energy, imagination, intelligence and love." For her, this promise is the most compelling.

"The degree to which it is within my power to fulfill that vow will shape what leadership looks like here," she said. "As my partnership with the congregation grows, so will a shared vision of UCF in the still unfolding future."

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