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Walt’s ministry began with an interest in working with youth in a church setting, which he did while in college and for a few summers afterwards.
The decision to attend seminary was a difficult one, but, Walt moved forward to complete the three-year M. Div. degree at Columbia Theological Seminary and was called to work as an Associate Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian in Spartanburg, SC with his old youth pastor, Charlie Horne; nine years later, he served as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Bartow, FL, then six years later, arrived at Providence where he has served for 20 years.
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I was born in Myanmar (also known as Burma) and am a fourth generation Presbyterian. I was seven when my father immigrated to the U.S, and at the the age of seventeen I was able to join him. I graduated from the University of Maryland in 2006, earning a B.S. in finance. After two and half years of working in the area of asset management in Baltimore, I began my studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. I graduated with a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Education in the spring of 2013. During my time in seminary, I enjoyed working with a group of people with autism in the Princeton area, teaching and preaching among immigrants, an internship at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City, and hospital chaplaincy in Edison, New Jersey. My home church is Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church in Maryland where my ordination took place in March 2014.
Since August 2013, I have been serving as a Minister in Residence (a two-year program funded by Lily Endowment) at First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan where I’ve been working with children and their parents, college students, young adults, and residents in a local nursing home. This past year I led two intergenerational mission trips, one to Nicaragua where we worked with local schools, and another to Russia where we worked with special needs children.
My gifts in ministry are oriented about helping others connect to the Divine who is already at work in their lives. Through teaching, listening to life stories, and conversing about the influence of faith in our daily lives, I believe we can grow into the individuals and church God calls us to be. I believe peacemaking begins in families and congregations, by focusing on sharing one another’s burdens together with a healthy dose of forgiveness all round, true restoration can come about. Reconciled, restored and healed, we are better equipped to bring peace to God’s world.
I hope to bring my unique experiences as a Mizo ethnic from Myanmar and share the works of God in my own life. My vocational goals are shaped mainly by God’s working in my family and personal life. My ancestors came to know Christ through the arrival of the Welsh revival at the beginning of the 20th century at the border of India and Burma. As a son of a church planter in Myanmar and an immigrant PC (USA) pastor, I have spent most of my life moving around in different churches among different cultures. From my past experience, I understand that the mission of the church is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus Christ by proclaiming the good news of salvation to others and taking care of the poor, oppressed, and people who are in need of help in the community.
To glorify God and enjoy God forever is my first call. However, I also enjoy gardening, playing soccer, photography, running, reading, and listening to NPR news.
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Sam Parham is our Director of Youth Ministries. Originally from Swannanoa, NC in the Appalachian Mountains, Sam attended Lenoir-Rhyne University, and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Religious Development, specifically focusing in Youth & Family Ministry and Liberation Theology. She has taught Children’s Sunday School and served as the Youth & Family Ministry Intern at a UCC congregation in Hickory and the Director of Faith Formation at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Lincolnton, NC focusing on youth, young adult and intergenerational ministry. She has written curriculum for several churches and organizations, addressing conversations of faith, community, inclusion, and social justice. Sam has a passion for Latin American theology. She learned much from the Iglesia Luterana de Costarricense in Costa Rica and wrote her honors thesis on Liberation Theology. Sam and her partner, Jordan have a sweet 4-year old boxer-mix named Molly and share a love of hiking, reading and cooking.