I am the fourth generation in my family ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church. I grew up in the small town of Danville, Kentucky where my father taught Religion and my mother taught French at Centre College—a small liberal arts school in the heart of horse country.
I grew up steeped in the cultures of the church and of the academy. My parents also modeled the importance of working for justice as the fruit of belief. Service to others and to our community had the highest priority in our home. I am thankful for my heritage and for the ways my roots have kept me connected to the church every step of my journey.
I received my Bachelor of Arts from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. After a year working in a law firm to explore law as a vocation and then another year in mission for the PCUSA in New Mexico through the Volunteer in Mission program, I decided to enter the joint degree program in Law and Divinity at Vanderbilt.
I fell in love with the study of religion there and never made it to the law school. In 1996, I received my Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee and went straight into a PhD program in Religious Studies at Emory University in the Graduate Department of Religion.
I loved studying at Emory because of their interdisciplinary approach to the study of religion and the wonderful faculty with whom I got to work. I wrote exams in Buddhist philosophy and feminist discourse ethics in addition to exams in philosophical method and theology. My exams also focused on prominent figures in the modern and contemporary theological landscapes like Paul Tillich, Alfred North Whitehead, Delores Williams, and Catherine Keller. My dissertation was a theology of embodiment, and my book, Let the Bones Dance: Embodiment and Body of Christ, is a rewrite of my dissertation after six years of parish ministry.
While completing my dissertation I received my first call to the Ministry in 2002. Since then I have served the church in many different capacities across the country. I was ordained by the Chicago Presbytery where I was the Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Spiritual Development at First Presbyterian Church, Libertyville, IL. I was the Theologian in Residence at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in Tampa, Florida. In Oakland, CA I served as Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, a multicultural congregation. All of these moves were opportunities for new contexts of ministry even though my family was relocating for my husband’s job as a football coach in the NFL and now in Division I college football.
In December 2011, I ended a four year stint as the Theologian in Residence at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My current ministry involves teaching, preaching, leading retreats and workshops, facilitating and consulting, and writing.
My training allows me not only to teach and to preach, but also to be engaged in the church and in the larger world as a theologian. For most of my life I have worked on issues of reconciliation and dialogue around difficult issues like race, political polarization, and religious differences in academic, church, and community contexts.
I am deeply engaged in the multicultural movement in the Presbyterian denomination nationally. I served for two years as the Moderator of the Board of the Presbyterian Multicultural Network (PMN) and for four years as the Moderator of the Multicultural Committee of the Presbytery of New Hope. I still serve the PMN in various ways including as the Dean of the Multicultural Institute at Montreat that the PMN and Office of Multicultural Congregational Support offer each year in November. I currently serve as an elected member and the Vice Moderator of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA), and I am a corresponding member of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA, formerly the GAMC).
I have felt moved for some time to get more intentional about ministry beyond parish ministry. This stirring in me has especially taken shape during my family’s time in Chapel Hill . My call is to follow God’s lead and to share the message of healing that has been given to me.
– Marcia Mount Shoop