On Sunday afternoon, October 15, the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia installed the Rev. Julie Anna Sterling as pastor of Suffolk Presbyterian Church. The long-awaited ceremony marked not a beginning but a joyous continuation of Sterling’s ministry in Suffolk. She and her husband, Eric Sterling, had immersed themselves in the congregation and community in May, after she accepted the call to become our church’s pastor. After PEVA welcomed Sterling at its quarterly meeting in July, a presbytery commission began planning her formal installation. She opted to wait until fall when her parents, Ron and Mary Ann Sterling, who live in Iowa, were planning to visit.
During the installation service, The Rev. Bill Lamont, PEVA moderator, asked her the constitutional questions of whether she was willing to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. Elder Don White asked the congregation members if we would support and respect her, share in her ministry and agree to pay her fairly. The Rev. Leigh Gillis, interim pastor at St. Andrew Presbyterian, presented the charge to the pastor, reminding her to take care of herself so she can care for others. The Rev. Lou Ventura, pastor of Franklin Presbyterian, gave an emotional charge to the members of her home church, urging us to love and support our new pastor. Other members of the installation commission taking part in the service were Commissioned Pastor Billy Ricketts and the Rev. Skip Irby.
The choir sang a beautiful rendition of “One Step” as an anthem, the Rev. Larry Ugarte preached the sermon, and the congregation celebrated Communion by intinction. The Presbyterian Women provided a lovely reception of finger foods and punch. On behalf of the congregation, the Pastor Nominating Committee presented Rev. Julie with a bright blue stole from Guatemala, noting that she shares our dedication to missions. Susie Stoughton, PNC chair, said that Rev. Julie embraces SPC’s values – being accepting, caring, outreaching, spirit-led and willing to serve. “The congregation asked us to find a pastor who would love us,” she said, “who would care for us and others, who would lead us in serving others, a pastor who would inspire us from the pulpit and share with us in fellowship.” The PNC felt that God had brought the congregation and Rev. Julie together. “It was like God was saying, ‘this is a good fit,’” she said. “‘You all would work well together.’”
Come join us as we celebrate the installation of Rev. Julie Sterling to Suffolk Presbyterian Church on Sunday, October 15 at 2 pm. All are welcome! Reception to follow.
We welcome our new pastor, the Rev. Julie Anna Sterling,to the Suffolk Presbyterian Church family!
Rev. Sterling, or Rev. Julie as she prefers, began her ministry at SPC on May 1, 2017 after serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Buckhannon, West Virginia.
A native of Pella, Iowa, she received a Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2002. She had served as pastor of small congregations in Hebron, Nebraska, and Sigourney, Iowa, before her previous call.
After a year-long search process, and sifting through hundreds of resumes, the Pastor Nominating Committee enthusiastically selected Rev. Julie as its nominee. Her commitment to pastoral care, missions and our Reformed theology resonated with the PNC’s sense of what the congregation was seeking.
Suffolk seemed like a good match for Rev. Julie, as well.
“I prayed that I would find a church as loving and supportive as my present call,” she said, “and I believe I’ve found it in Suffolk Presbyterian Church.”
She and husband Eric, a Pittsburgh native, have moved in with their menagerie of “fur babies” – a dog and four cats. They both enjoy being outdoors, particularly fishing, hiking and taking their rescue dog, Cooper, on long trail runs.
“My husband and I feel truly blessed to be invited to be part of your church family,” she said. “We are excited to take this next step in our faith journey with your congregation, the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia, and the larger Suffolk community. I truly hope I can help the Suffolk Presbyterian Church grow into the church that God has blessed it to be”
The Commission on Ministry enthusiastically welcomed Sterling into the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia on March 7. She will be formally installed as our pastor this summer after being received at the July meeting of the Presbytery.
Welcome Rev. Julie!
On Tuesday, September 2, the PEVA Committee on Ministry approved Rev. Libby Rollins as the new interim pastor of Suffolk Presbyterian Church. Libby’s tenure will begin Monday, September 15. Libby replaces Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley who resigned in June as pastor of Suffolk Presbyterian Church and has accepted a call to Green Acres Presbyterian Church in Portsmouth, Va.
Libby was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama and received her BA in Religion/Christian Education from Presbyterian College in 1994. She attended Columbia Theological Seminary where she completed her Master of Divinity in 1997. She was ordained on November 8, 1998 by the Presbytery of the Sheppards & Lapsley in central Alabama.
Libby is a seasoned interim pastor, having spent all sixteen years of her ordained ministry serving churches in transition. Suffolk will be her seventh interim call. She is also a veteran in interim pastor instruction since joining the PCUSA Interim Ministry Education team in 2008. Additionally, she has served as team leader in 2011, 2012, and 2014.
Libby, her husband, David, and their son Mac reside in Virginia Beach where David is currently the Pastor of Bayside Presbyterian Church.
We are excited and praise God that Libby has been led to this call. We ask continued prayers for her encouragement and our church’s faithful witness to the Gospel in this time of discernment and new beginnings!
In May, Rev. Rebecca Lesley announced her acceptance of a call to be the pastor of Green Acres Presbyterian Church in Portsmouth. Her last Sunday to preach on June 29 was followed by a reception of finger food, punch, gifts, plenty of hugs and a few tears. Rebecca had served SPC for six and a half years after being ordained in December 2007 as her first call. Rev. Lesley began her new call at Green Acres PC on August 3. We pray that God will lift up Rebecca , husband Patrick, Laura and Miriam, as they transition to this new call. A transition team, appointed by the Session in June, has been hard at work seeking an interim pastor to lead us in this time of discernment. The transition team members are Bruce Sharp, Jack Stoughton, Don White, Sherry Matthews, and Kristina Super.