Rochester’s local paper, The Democrat & Chronicle, recently published an interview with Rachel McGuire, who graduated from CRCDS in 2004 with an M.Div. degree.
The below was originally published on August 12, 2013.
As a young girl, Rachel McGuire answered the call to become Roman Catholic. Later, after graduating from Cornell University and launching a successful business, she answered a call to become a Baptist minister. Now, at age 44, she’s the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church on Park Avenue in Rochester and finishing up her Ph.D. at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. Her church reaches out to city neighborhoods in many ways, including the planting and tending of gardens in abandoned spaces. She recently sat down with us to talk
about her faith journey, her church and helping those in need. Here’s an edited version of the discussion:
Q: Was your family religious?
A: Not at all. But I had a very deeply religious experience at the age of 7. Out of the blue, I was dragged off to church by my best Irish Catholic friend and had a really profound encounter walking into this church that honestly continues to shape my life today. I came home and informed my mother that I was going to be Catholic.
Q: How did she react?
A: She was pretty baffled but indulgent, and I was very devotedly Catholic for the next decade of my life, including sending myself to Catholic school, starting in seventh grade. I worked to pay for that.
Q:Did that continue through college?
A: In my senior year of high school, I got a little disillusioned. My mom gave me a copy of the I Ching, an ancient Chinese form of philosophy, and I dragged it off to Cornell. For the next 15 years that became my primary spiritual path.
Q: Then how did you become a Baptist?
A: After college, my former husband and I relocated our (Internet strategy) business to Ithaca, and I started attending First Baptist Church. I had read everything Martin Luther King had written, and I thought if King could believe all that stuff and be Baptist, maybe I could be Baptist.
Then I was sitting in our office in Ithaca in 2001 with our two dogs and just felt this deep pang in the core of my being that it was time to go to seminary. I Googled “Western New York Seminaries” and up pops the face of Martin Luther King on the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School webpage.
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