May 17, 2020
The Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC) for the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York is honored and blessed to announce the Rev. Dr. Greg Stovell as our next Pastor/Head of Staff.
Originally from Mexico City, Dr. Stovell worked in math and engineering before being called to ministry, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of Dubuque and a Masters in Divinity from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He earned a Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching from McCormick Theological Seminary. He served churches in Mexico, New Jersey, and Illinois, before being called to First Presbyterian in West Chester, Pennsylvania, a 1200-member congregation outside of Philadelphia where he has been the Senior Pastor since 2010.
It was Dr. Stovell’s voice and presence from the pulpit that first captured and then held the attention of the PNC. He consistently demonstrates the kind of strong preaching and worship skills that our historic pulpit demands. Delivering sermons that are scripturally-based, intellectually challenging, contextualized, and relevant, he connects our rich faith tradition to everyday life in ways that are deeply moving, hopeful and spiritually nourishing, ensuring that Sunday mornings will remain a cornerstone of our communal church life, a weekly occasion of hope and inspiration in these often dispiriting days.
From both the pulpit and beyond, Dr. Stovell has a clear call to justice ministries rooted in empathy and the biblical call to serve those in need. To use his words, he believes the church should have, “a heart for the poor, the outcast, those in the margins and those whose voices have been long silenced.” He has demonstrated this through steadfast dedication to outreach and service, particularly in the areas of homelessness and immigration. He led his church in partnerships with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and local food banks, along with a campaign to address local childhood homelessness. He was instrumental in supporting a partnership with a church in Guatemala, as well as offering direct support to migrant communities in his Pennsylvania county. Dr. Stovell’s own life experience, coupled with his dedication to justice ministries, positions him well to help us reenergize our commitment to local missions, while also positioning this work within a broader global perspective.
There are many unknowns in the coming months as the norms and needs of our church and world continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. While we pray that much will return to the familiar, our PNC recognized that areas such as stewardship and technology will demand new and creative attention. These are areas in which Dr. Stovell is particularly well-positioned to serve. He oversaw a complete technological update in the historical building of his current church where Sunday services have been live streaming for several years. He introduced easier, technology-based giving, coupled with a mission-based focus, leading to an increase in average pledges of over 40% and an increase in non-pledged giving of over 260% under his leadership. Moreover, he has proven himself a capable administrator of a church with an attached school and a multi-pastor staff – diligent, methodical, compassionate, and focused on seeking the Spirit’s guidance in all decisions.
“Above All, Love….” (1 Peter 4:8). We saw those words every time we visited Dr. Stovell’s church website to listen to a new sermon or look up information about their ministries. As part of our search process, the PNC dutifully identified competencies, read resumes, and checked references, but we have always recognized that this is more than a job search. Reflecting back on this experience, we kept returning to the need for a spiritual leader, someone whose words could lift us, whose presence calmed us, who could lead through adversity and whose biblical knowledge and depth enriched our thinking about faith in our own lives and the world.
For our committee of nine, the past 15 months have been a journey of growth and spiritual discernment, one that we feel confident has brought us to the Rev. Dr. Greg Stovell. From the beginning, we were taken by Dr. Stovell’s deep spirituality and his faithful, focused ministry. Our interactions with him have been imbued with a sense of peace and the Holy Spirit, all the more profound and welcome in these unsettling days. As we look to the future, Dr. Stovell’s own words capture his sense of hope – that ours will be “a vibrant, energetic, humble community which extends God’s grace to the world, stands against injustice, and welcomes and celebrates the diversity of gifts of all of God’s people.”
We warmly welcome Greg and his family to the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York and await with excitement their arrival in September!
Pastor Nominating Committee of the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York,
Ben Maddox (Co-Chair)
Lara Steensland Mullarkey (Co-Chair)
Su Yon Pak