For Dawn Black, going into ministry was a leap of faith she says she just knew she was supposed to take. Uncertain where her journey would take her, she could have never predicted leaving her life-long Kentucky home to relocate to the middle of Nebraska. But that is exactly where God has brought her.
Dawn is the new Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Broken Bow. She began her new job at the church March 17, moving to the community with her two daughters just five days before her first Sunday service. Her husband, Andrew, had to stay behind in Kentucky for a few weeks while he finished up his seminary schooling.
Dawn was born in Florence, Ky., and graduated from Connor High School in 1986. She attended college at Northern Kentucky Univer-sity part-time, while working full-time in various retail jobs. While at NKU she majored in marketing management.
She was working as the manager of a Godiva store in Lexington, Ky., and was heavily involved in her church, when the Pastors approached her and asked her if she had ever considered ministry. She says even though she was involved in nearly every aspect of the church, she wasn’t sure she was cut out for full-time ministry.
Her church paid for her to attend an “Exploring your call” weekend at Lexington Theological Seminary. That was Sept. 13, 2001.
“It became very clear to me that weekend that God was calling me to a different role in the church - to ministry as a vocation,” Dawn recalls.
Still attending college at NKU, Dawn switched her major to sociology, and later went to work for the Kentucky Department of Health and Human Services as a family support specialist and case manager. She says she liked her job and thought it was a good fit for her and her “ministry.”
She graduated from NKU in December 2007, and a year later realized she was being called to attend seminary full time. In February 2009, after the birth of her second child, she enrolled in Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She graduated in May 2012.
After graduation from seminary, Dawn began the process of becoming a candidate for ministry and looking for a job. She explains that the Presbyterian Church works on a call system - meaning, candidates put out their personal profile and churches do the same in hopes of finding an appropriate match.
In September 2012, Dawn referred herself to the Broken Bow church. She says at that time she was in conversation with at least eight churches.
She and her family came to visit the church and the community of Broken Bow in January 2013, and while in Nebraska preached at a neutral church in Gothenburg. She met with the nominating committee from the Broken Bow church then.
The first weekend in February, Dawn returned to Broken Bow to preach for this congregation and meet the people here. After church a congregational meeting was held and a vote was taken to call Dawn as their new Pastor.
“I had a lot of really great people on my journey - encouraging me and challenging me,” says Dawn when reflecting on the past few years.
Dawn was raised in a Southern Baptist church, and at the age of 18 went to a Presbyterian Easter service with her then boyfriend, Andrew. She says she loved the Presbyterian church and has never left.
Andrew graduated from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary May 19, and has now joined his family in Broken Bow. Dawn says the church and community have been very warm and welcoming, and she feels “very comfortable here.”
She is particularly happy with the school system in Broken Bow, and says her 8-year-old daughter, Griffin, loves school here. Griffin will be a 3rd grader this fall, while other daughter Gracen, 4, will start preschool.
“It didn’t take long for this to feel like home,” says Dawn. “And that’s a really good feeling.”
The First Presbyterian Church is located at 925 North H Street, and meets for Sunday worship service at 10 a.m., with Sunday School immediately following. During the school year the church offers the popular children’s program, Quigley’s, on Wednesdays right after school.