The Rev. Kathy McDowell hasn't always been called "Reverend." In fact, she was in her mid-40s when she decided to leave her secular career and pursue one in ministry.
Married for 28 years and the mother of three sons - two in college and one in high school - the 50-year-old McDowell said, "This is my life's work. It took me a little while to find it, but I love what I do."
Q: How and when did you know that this is what you wanted to do as your life's work?
A: I'm a second-career minister. I had been active in my church for years and wanted to have a greater impact. It dawned on me rather suddenly that I needed to be in ministry.
In the spring of 2000, I went to (Emory University's Candler School of Theology) and graduated three years later. I've been here at Peachtree Corners Christian Church for seven months now.
Q: Did you ever consider a different career?
A: I have a journalism degree, and I was working in a nonprofit organization doing public relations work. After that, I was a stay-at-home mom and "church volunteer extraordinaire."
Q: Who would you say was the greatest influence on you and your choice?
A: Well, it's not a "who" but a "what." Working in the church was a big influence on me. Church is a life-changing place to be. I got involved with a long-term Bible study called "Disciple Bible Study" in the mid-'90s. I began to understand God differently then.
Q: What would you say is the most challenging thing about your job?
A: Definitely balancing ministry with my family and personal life. It's hard for me to say, "Oh it's just a job."
Q: What's the most rewarding thing?
A: Walking alongside people wherever they are in their spiritual journeys. Sometimes people need a companion along that journey. I like being able to be that for people.
Q: If you could offer one piece of advice to a young woman who might be considering entering the ministry, what would it be?
A: There aren't a lot of models for this, so you can't look for affirmation around you. You have to stay grounded in God and know that he equips (those he has) called. You have to be very strong.
Q: How does being a woman affect your work? Or does it, in your opinion?
A: I got into this relatively late in my life. I had other work experiences where gender was not a factor. It still is in ministry. I hardly think about my gender until I realize that other people still do.
I think God calls all manner of people, and women bring real gifts to ministry. Women bring different gifts to their work, no matter what they do. I have to say, though, that I don't think about it a lot. I try to stay focused on what God has called me to do.
Q: Who would you most like to meet, and why?
A: I don't care that much about meeting famous people. I think ordinary people are actually pretty extraordinary. Their spiritual lives are interesting to me.
Q: What is your favorite Scripture?
A: 2 Corinthians 12:9: "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Paul was writing this, saying God had told this to him. God can use anyone he wants to make his presence known in the world.
Q: Is there anything you'd like to let people know about your church and what's happening there?
A: Well, yes. On Sept. 23, we're having a "pets blessing." It's very inclusive. It will be at 6:30 in the evening, outdoors. It's really a celebration, and it's not very long. Dogs and cats have short attention spans!
Peachtree Corners Christian Church is located at 6060 Spalding Drive in Norcross. To find out more about the church, upcoming events and service times, visit www.peachtreecornerscc.org, or call 770-447-5475.
Each week, the Daily Post profiles a different religious leader in Gwinnett. If you have a suggestion on who we should profile next, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.