I’m a second-career pastor – maybe third, but who’s counting! Born in Alexandria , VA., and raised in Ohio, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University, where my two older brothers also attended college. After six years in newspapers, I realized my altruistic intentions were being usurped by the need to sell more newspapers in an era of “if it bleeds, it leads” and “don’t bother me with the facts, I have a story to write.” It didn’t take too many such utterance from my newspaper colleagues before I decided to transition to Public Relations and Marketing, figuring at least then I could choose the cause I championed. I earned my master’s degree in Marketing and Communication from Franklin University, Columbus, OH, while working as Marketing and Development Manager for Lifeline of Ohio, which promotes and coordinates organ and tissue donation. As I grew in my faith and became more active at my home church (Covenant Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Ohio), I began to sense a call to ministry and a growing desire to strengthen the expression of my faith in my work life. I developed and facilitated a small group ministry for people who are unemployed and co-led a class on spirituality in the workplace. I approached seminary as an exploratory step toward ordained ministry. While there, I continued in small-group ministry, establishing and facilitating a group for Contemplative Prayer. I was chair of the ‘Wholistic Health’ Initiative, a student group providing opportunities on campus for health and wholeness. My wife, Yuri, and I met while at a perspective-students weekend at Princeton Theological Seminary, where we were married 19 months later. Yuri was a New Yorker living in Manhattan for 20 years, and I only jokingly claim to have rescued her from that little island city.
In my first call as an associate pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Greenville , SC., I was blessed to experience the fruits of ministry amid the rigors of the pastorate. As I immersed myself in the breadth and depth of ministry, I found that God is able to expand and enhance what I might see and desire. And I am ever surprised and delighted to be a participant in fulfilling God’s good purpose. I have found a natural pairing between my training and experience in ministry and my previous work in marketing and communications. So much of the role of a pastor involves understanding the needs of those being served and then responding in a way that meets them where they are and guides them in their spiritual growth and journey of faith. My calling resonates as a ministry of embodiment, meaning that my faith runs deep within me, informs my very being, and is expressed in my knowledge and experience as a pastor of the PC (USA) as together we seek to serve and glorify God.
While Westminster Presbyterian Church continues to hold a special place in my heart, I have been equally blessed and more so in my service at First Presbyterian Church-Independence, where I have found a loving, welcoming, dedicated family of faith. I am confident that with God’s help our ministry together will continue to bear fruit worthy of our calling as the body of Christ.
For an article about Rev. Dave Carlson by Freelance Writer Mark Matlock, click here.