Hands-on Ministry

Look carefully at that stole your pastor is wearing to worship—it just may have been fashioned by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Molly Spangler.


Some of Spangler’s stoles are on sale in the Montreat Conference Center bookstore. An art major in college, she has brought her creativity to seminary, where she is about halfway toward earning her M.Div. and MACE degrees.


“I’m a hands-on person,” she says. “I like making things.” She especially likes making textile art pieces (banners, stoles, weavings) and using them to enrich worship.


Spangler’s artistry extends beyond her hands to her whole body. Doing gymnastics as a child sparked her interest in dance. She and some friends formed a liturgical dance group. “When I read Scripture,” she says, “I see it as movement.”


Spangler grew up in High Point, North Carolina, immersed in the Presbyterian Church. She and her husband, Luke, met in high school while serving on the youth council of Salem Presbytery. She stayed connected to church through a campus ministry at East Carolina University.


Describing her call to ministry, she says, “I don’t think it was one lightning-bolt experience. It was more a marathon of smaller experiences.” The Holy Spirit “just kept pulling at me. I couldn’t ignore it.”


Spangler has been inspired by her professors at Union. “These are people who have spent years studying the texts,” she says, “yet every time they open a book there is something fresh and new. They’re not just standing up there reading lecture notes. They’re energetic and passionate.”


The MACE degree will help her share that passion, she believes. “I wanted the education training to be able to take what I’m learning and present it to others.”


Possible post-graduation scenarios for Spangler include campus ministry or working with young adult ministries at the presbytery level. “I’ll look for the area of greatest need and where that matches my gifts,” she says.


Presbyterians should do more to reach out to young adults, Spangler believes. “We’re missing a huge age group.”


She would also like to reach out to congregations that are considering leaving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Her 87-year-old grandfather’s congregation, the church her parents were married in, voted recently to leave the denomination. It’s heartbreaking, she says. “This church is his home.”