Finding the Right Fit
Years of working in human resources as a corporate recruiter taught Elizabeth Moyer the importance of finding a good match. That’s why, when she sensed the call to seminary, she spent several years researching theological education programs across the country.
Encouraged by her husband, Adam, she looked at a multitude of seminaries but none of them felt right. Finally, 38-year-old Moyer, who has lived most of her life in North Carolina, discovered a good match close to home: the Master of Arts in Christian Education (MACE) program on the Charlotte campus of Union Presbyterian Seminary.
“For the first time, in all those years of visiting seminaries, I was looking at a program that fit,” she says. She enrolled in 2013. Now she says, “I feel like I’m having the conversations I always was meant to have. I’ve found my people!”
Moyer has experienced God working in her life since childhood. When she was nine, she lost her 12-year-old sister, Calandra, to cancer.
“My sister had a huge impact on my faith formation,” she says. “She and I would study the Bible together. Her death shook my faith. I spent a lot of years very angry with God.” But Moyer said she believed then and still believes “that if I’m angry with God, the best place to work out that anger is in a faith community.”
Though their parents were not regular churchgoers, the sisters had been involved in a Pentecostal congregation. After her sister died, Moyer tried out a variety of faith communities, finally landing in an American Baptist church where she felt at home and was baptized at age 19. She and Adam are now members of a United Methodist congregation. “We truly identify with the teachings of John Wesley,” she says.
In college, where she majored in psychology, an older student gave her a letter saying she had seen in Moyer something special. The letter ended with the biblical admonition, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Moyer still keeps the letter in her Bible.
In 2006, Moyer got her “dream job” with a corporation she had long admired. However, sitting at her desk one day the following year, she realized, “I’ve never been so unhappy in my entire life.” She resigned and took a $20,000 pay cut to work at the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University. This led to a job at Duke Divinity School, which helped her make the transition to seminary.
As a Christian educator, Moyer hopes to “fill some gaps” in the church’s nurture of the young: for example, equipping parents to play stronger roles in their children’s faith formation and preparing college students to keep the faith on campus.
Reading from Calvin and other theologians at UPSem, she says, has shown her “the importance of our shared history in spite of variations in theology.” She adds, “When I think about teaching the faith, I think about sustaining the life of the church for generations.”