You never know where a liberal arts degree from Wittenberg University will take you.
Kate Mackie, class of 1998 from Farmington Hills, Michigan, graduated from Wittenberg with a degree in English with a creative writing/poetry emphasis and a minor in psychology. She was a four-year member of the softball team and decided to continue her education by earning a master’s degree in sports management from Georgia Southern University, thinking she would become a college coach.
However, when she recently visited Wittenberg this past semester, Mackie was clearly in her comfort zone behind the podium at Weaver Chapel as a guest minister preaching the Sunday service. Mackie, who currently serves as pastor and director of youth ministries at Rosedale Gardens Presbyterian Church in Livonia, Michigan, and as an adjunct faculty member in the doctoral program at Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) in Detroit, where she received her doctorate of ministry, said that “God got a hold of me” while volunteering at her home church.
Prior to this time, Mackie, who sang in the Wittenberg Singers and wrote for the student newspaper, The Torch, had intended to pursue a career in coaching.
“I was able to do this for a few years; however, it never really seemed to pan out well for me for a variety of reasons. It was actually very heartbreaking for me when I came to the realization that coaching was not going to be my career.”
Following a few side stops in the retail and hospitality industries, Mackie soon found herself back in her home church.
“It was during these years that I got very involved as a volunteer back in my home church, doing a variety of things from youth ministry to worship arts to local and international missions - and God got a hold of me,” Mackie explained.
She began to pursue a Master of Divinity to become a pastor, but halfway through she realized that she was not feeling called to being a pastor.
“I switched over to the doctorate of ministry program, which I was going to be able to finish in the same amount of time,” she said. “I was in the final stages of completing my degree when I began looking for a job in youth ministry – an area of the church that I had always loved. Amazingly enough, a church on the other side of town in Livonia was looking for a director of youth ministries. I began my official church staff career at Rosedale Gardens Presbyterian Church in Livonia in October 2013. A couple of years later, I was asked to complete my studies through the Presbyterian Church (USA) [to become] what we call a ‘commissioned pastor.’ I received my commission to Rosedale on March 10, 2018. In spite of my new job title and job responsibilities, I still continue to work as the director of youth ministries as well as a commissioned pastor.”
In the fall of 2014, ETS asked her to come on as an adjunct faculty member in the doctoral program where she mentors students, teaches classes, and serves as a faculty chair for students completing their degrees.
“Believe it or not, I have been able to marry all three of my degrees into my current job,” Mackie said. “As a pastor, preacher, and teacher, I am writing all the time – so having a degree in English is perfect, especially creative writing. Also, my minor in psychology has been incredibly helpful as I do a lot of pastoral care – dealing with people in a variety of life situations – and I also do some counseling. Even my sports management degree – specifically the areas of coaching and team building – has been incredibly useful in the ministry.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned as a coach was that all people learn and respond through a variety of motivational factors. As a coach, in order to inspire my players to perform at their best, I would have to know them as individuals, know what motivates them as an athlete, and thus, tailor my coaching approach to both the individual players, and to the personality of the team. I use a similar approach with people when ‘coaching’ them in their spiritual lives. Additionally, I have used a variety of team-building approaches with my youth group, church leadership teams, and staff.”
Mackie does congregational care, preaches, designs and leads worship, Bible studies, mission trips, Sunday school, youth group, and confirmation classes. She also supervises employees and leads retreats.
“Honestly, I love every aspect of my job, though some days are certainly harder than others,” she said. “This is, in the truest sense of the word, not a job, but a calling. I have been incredibly blessed – and the heartache and grief I experienced when my coaching career came to an end has been overshadowed by God’s call on my life and the blessing I have of serving Jesus’ people at Rosedale.
“Wittenberg always provided a space for growing as an individual, both academically as well as in the greater community,” she added. “I very much appreciated the liberal arts education because it provided me with a basis to study in a variety of areas before having to settle on one. For that, I will always be grateful.”