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First Presbyterian Church of South Charleston welcomes new pastor

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
The Rev. Sharon Gearing is the new pastor at First Presbyterian Church of South Charleston. Gearing, a Pittsburgh-area native, comes to First Presbyterian from a church in Oklahoma. She welcomes everyone to Sunday worship services.
First Presbyterian’s upcoming “Maker Fun Factory” vacation Bible school, July 16-20, will feature a variety of fun inventions created by the church’s congregation. The Rev. Sharon Gearing demonstates one of the “Rube Goldberg” inventions.

As a fourth-generation member of the clergy, the Rev. Sharon Gearing knows that it’s the people inside a church that can make it a good one.

She found a good one in the First Presbyterian Church of South Charleston, where, in May, Gearing became the church’s new pastor.

Gearing grew up in the Pittsburgh area and comes to First Presbyterian Church from a church in Oklahoma. Before that, she ministered at churches in Florida, Northern Pennsylvania and Texas.

For the First Presbyterian post, she interviewed with a search committee tasked with hiring a new minister to replace an interim pastor that had been leading the church.

“We really hit it off and had a great time. This church and I have a lot of the same visions for the future, so we agreed to do this ministry together,” Gearing said.

Gearing has been an ordained minister for 25 years. She earned her undergraduate degree in education from the University of Oklahoma and her master’s degree from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

By becoming a minister, she is following in the footsteps of her ancestors.

“I’m the fourth-generation clergy in my family. My great-grandparents were missionaries to the United States from England, and my grandparents were missionaries to South America. My father was a Presbyterian pastor. My great-grandmother and my grandmother were ministers, because they were with the Salvation Army, where women and men could be ordained for a long time,” Gearing said.

Gearing is impressed with First Presbyterian Church of South Charleston’s congregation.

“This congregation is so lively, and they are all about mission and doing things for the community and the world. They are very enthusiastic and love what they’re doing,” she said.

First Presbyterian Church of South Charleston, at 508 Second Ave., is an active church. It shares space with the Oakhurst Child Development Center.

“It’s a separate organization, but it is a ministry that’s supported by the church. It’s kind of a partnership.”

First Presbyterian offers Sunday school classes for adults and children at 9:45 a.m. each Sunday, with morning worship services starting at 10:55 a.m. This fall, it will restart its Welcome On Wednesday series, which is geared more toward adults.

Each Wednesday evening will feature a chef-prepared meal, followed by music and drama programs for children and adult education topics for older attendees.

“This coming fall, I want to start a program where we can talk about the division in our country and how we can disagree politically, and how do we, as Christians, be part of that conversation, love people and disagree with them at the same time. I think that’s crucial right now for our country,” she said.

First Presbyterian is also preparing for its vacation Bible school from July 16-20.

“It’s a huge deal.”

In preparation for the church’s VBS, church volunteers have been making fun, “Rube Goldberg”-type devices to help entertain the children. The theme is “Maker Fun Factory.”

“We have scientists and creative people in this congregation,” Gearing said.

Gearing said she’s grown to love the Charleston and South Charleston areas, especially their wealth of restaurants and arts activities.

“There’s so much going on, I can’t keep up with it.”

In her spare time, Gearing enjoys hiking, camping and fishing.

“I’m a country girl,” she said.

Gearing welcomes anyone, regardless of their backgrounds, to worship in the non-judgmental atmosphere at First Presbyterian Church of South Charleston.

“I want this place to be a sanctuary for them.”

For more information about the First Presbyterian Church of South Charleston, call 304-744-2333 or visit the church’s Facebook page.


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