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New pastor hopes to lead John Calvin Presbyterian ‘out of our comfort zone’

SALISBURY — “I hope to carry on the tradition every day of carrying on the conversation with folks who look different from me and think different from me,” says the Rev. Kate Morrison, the new minister at John Calvin Presbyterian Church.

For Morrison, the decision to move to Salisbury from Torrington, Wyoming, was “a heart struggle.” With her family in Statesville, she wanted to get closer to her home, but she didn’t want just any church.

Going through the hard process that the Presbyterian Church requires of ministers making a move, Morrison studied reference information on John Calvin.  

“John Calvin was the church that I have always wanted to be a part of,” she concluded. “The church has always put its money where its mouth is. It does what it says it will do (in mission ministry). I think John Calvin is where the church of the future is going.”

Her installation will be at 3 p.m. Sunday.

During her two years at First Wyoming Presbyterian Church, Morrison worked with local community college students in UKirt Campus Ministries. She says North Carolina has some great campus ministries and she hopes to tap into such groups at colleges in Rowan and Cabarrus counties, including programs at Catawba, Livingstone and Rowan-Cabarrus Community colleges.

While serving in Wyoming as an associate pastor, she was involved in the challenges of living in a rural, agricultural area with a lack of affordable food and grocery stores. People had to travel many miles to an affordable store, Morrison said. In a story in the national Presbyterian publication “Today in Mission Yearbook” titled “Hunger Problems in Wyoming,” Morrison was quoted about her work on the project to bring cheaper food to town.

Asked if she has been surprised by anything at John Calvin church, Morrison said she was “shocked” that so many members have told her that it “is a dying church, a church not like it used to be. We should give up since the church is on its way to a grave.”

“The church is changing,” Morrison said.

“How can we be the best church in the world if we don’t get out of our comfort zone and face the challenge?” she said. “The church is flourishing. We are OK being in God’s hands. I don’t see the church dying but changing. We have to step out and give it a go.”

Morrison describes herself as not the typical pastor.

“I have tattoos. I want to stay on the side of the oppressed. I’m an imperfect human being, and I am grateful for Jesus Christ and for following Jesus,” she said. “I’m humbled to come from the tradition I do. My great-grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher in Union Grove, and his best friend was a rabbi.”

Working for social justice and easing racial tensions is a priority for Morrison and a major issue in churches today.  

To find new ways to welcome folks to her church, she hopes to push away stereotypes and encourage people to show love to one another. It is important to relieve racial tensions as well as those with the LGBTQ community and to support women’s rights, she said.

 “We can do this here in Rowan,” Morrison said. 

Morrison said she likes to read novels in her down time as well as books on leadership and on “changing the landscape in the church.” She has many books at home that she hasn’t had time to read. She calls it her “work in process.”

Going to movies is another pastime. Morrison said she likes good action movies but also is drawn to films that deal with social justice issues and conversations.

John Calvin Presbyterian Church is at 1620 Brenner Ave. The church website is johncalvinpres.com.

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