Class of 2018 profiles: Bruce McVey faces down challenges to reach the pulpit


One Sunday morning when Bruce McVey and his wife were driving to church, they were bragging to his wife’s parents that they could come and go from their church without any extra responsibilities. McVey married the daughter of two Presbyterian pastors. That same Sunday, McVey was approached by their church’s pastor asking if he would serve as an elder for stewardship at their church.

That was the beginning of McVey’s path to Union Presbyterian Seminary. The last part of the story came about because of a tragic accident. While working in Dallas, McVey was rear-ended by somebody texting and driving at 80 miles an hour. He ended up breaking his back and, during his recovery, the CEO of the company he worked for said they were going to close his division. That led to him asking friends on social media what position would be a good fit for him. Five people said he should go to seminary. After praying over the possibility with his family, he chose Union over two other schools because it felt most like home.

Now, McVey has graduated with a Master of Divinity degree and becomes the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Tennessee, on July 1. “Learning the ancient languages and being able to study the Bible in the original languages really helped open up the text and illuminate my studies,” he said. “I did a lot of public speaking engagements in my previous career. Once you step behind the pulpit and preach to a congregation, it’s a different message and experience.”

First Presbyterian Church

McVey also took some pastoral care classes while at Union to prepare him for his new position. “I’m a raging extrovert so these classes have helped me learn how to try to be more silent and listen to people in these pastoral care situations, which is not necessarily my natural tendency.” While at Union, McVey also had a full-year internship at Tuckahoe Presbyterian Church as well as a clinical pastoral education position at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.

Looking back at his time at Union, McVey said he will miss the sense of community. He got to know more of the extended Union family as he served on the seminary’s board of trustees for a term. “The professors are outstanding and they’re available and always willing to help both outside and inside the classroom.”

Bruce McVey with some of his fellow graduates. From left, Matthew White, Joshua Lewis, David Frost, McVey, and Andrew Bowman.

The Tampa, Florida, native will also miss the food scene in Richmond and the light traffic. “Being a Floridian, the fall in Richmond is absolutely gorgeous. I’m not crazy about that white stuff that falls in the winter, though.”