“From youth ministry, to discipleship, to ordination, I have loved every layer of ministry.”
— Rev. Casey Orr
Five years ago, Rev. Casey Orr was FUMCFW’s Director of Youth Ministries. Today Casey is our Associate Pastor of Discipleship, and last week she was ordained as Deacon in the United Methodist Church. Just as she says she has loved every bit of it, so has our faith community. Casey has been here for our church as a leader, co-worker, and friend — with a hand to hold, shoulder to cry on, and laugh to share. She is not simply a minister; she is an important part of our First Church family. “Casey is an absolute delight and adds new insights and vitality to the overall staff,” Rev. Linda McDermott exclaims. “She has a genuine love for people and a heart for God. Her friendship and collegiality have become very important to me.”
While she is still on her final stretch of maternity leave, Casey took some time out from baby duty to share some of her ministry experiences with us. From graduating youth to renovating buildings to baptizing other little ones — plus an exciting new project in the works — she has been through a lot with our church. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at her calling as a pastor, her greatest accomplishments, her future plans, and much more. “We as a staff and congregation are so proud of Casey and are so blessed by her ministry with us,” says Dr. Tim Bruster. “We look forward to watching her continue to grow with us — and we are excited about the plans she has for our discipleship ministry, soon to be revealed!”
Casey will be back at FUMCFW this coming Sunday, and we will celebrate her ordination and return as a church family. Be sure to look for Casey in the traditional Sanctuary worship services — she’ll be the one up front with a stole and a smile.
Congratulations and welcome back, Casey!
Q: What led you to become a pastor?
A: When I was 17, God became real to me in Jesus. Through a deeply meaningful youth retreat, the passion of a few faithful friends, and one very attentive youth minister, I recognized a call to ministry. I have been grateful for the churches that have taken a chance on me, the mentors who have coached me, the church members who have encouraged and challenged me, and to this church for growing with me. From youth ministry, to discipleship, to ordination, I have loved every layer of ministry.
Q: What is your favorite part of being a pastor and working with a church?
A: I love being a witness to the way God’s love grows in people. I love nurturing meaningful relationships with people and families and walking alongside them through their lives. I love talking through challenging questions and doubts. I love celebrating happy seasons and meaningful experiences. I love seeing faith grow as people come to realize God’s grace for them and use the gifts they have been given.
Q: How has your personal ministry changed over the years?
A: The most obvious way my ministry has changed is that I am not exclusively doing youth ministry anymore. At my core, I will always be a youth minister. I will always be an advocate for teenagers and their gifts and passion and potential. I will always be attentive to the needs of youth families. But in the last few years, I have recognized ways to use my gifts to serve the church more broadly. I am so glad that I get to lead confirmation, which keeps me directly connected to the youth ministry. But I also have the opportunity to get to know and serve our entire congregation through worship and teaching and discipleship development.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
A: Wow. I can’t take sole credit for anything. I can tell you what I am proud of and grateful for, but I did nothing by myself.
I am proud of the classes of youth that we have graduated in the last five years. They have been compassionate and creative and ambitious and gracious and energetic. But I share that success with their parents and with their other youth ministers and pastors.
I am proud of the Justin Building renovation and the inspiring space that was created for young people. But I share that with the Foundation and the leadership of the church.
I am proud of Baptism 101 and the conversations it is starting as we continue to baptize so many babies at FUMCFW! But I share that with the thoughtful parents who attend and the other pastors who support it.
I am proud of Healthy Plate Discipleship, which many haven’t heard of yet, but will soon! It is an exciting project that has the potential to make a meaningful difference for our church. But I share that with Dr. Bruster and the staff and all of the church members who have offered feedback.
Q: What are you most thankful for at First Church?
A: Over these years, I have been most grateful for my church family here as it has allowed me to be a pastor while I am becoming a pastor. I am thankful for opportunities to preach and teach. I am inspired by your feedback and ideas. I am awed by your willingness to serve. I am energized by confirmands and their families. I am humbled each time I am invited into a hospital room or home. I am hopeful when I look toward our future. I have been so overwhelmed by the love and support I have received from this church family in the last five years.
I am especially thankful to Dr. Bruster and the staff for inviting me into this beautiful church and ministry. And I want to add a word of thanks to my Lay Covenant Committee, led by Bliss Dodd, for spending two years following me around, cheering me on, and pushing me to grow.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most in your return?
A: Maternity leave has been beautiful and challenging. I have cherished every moment with James. He is such a good baby and he has taught me so much about love. And I am so thankful that FUMCFW has made it possible for me to be away during this time. I have felt so loved and supported, and I am so glad that James now gets to know that love and support.
While this time has been so special, I am very much looking forward to being back. I love the energy and pace of ministry. I love the excitement of Sundays. But most of all, I love the people. I have missed working each day with the staff. And I have missed connecting with people each Sunday. I am very much looking forward to rejoining the daily life of the church.
Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
A: I always avoid answering this question because I have never been right. Five years ago, I was settling into my downtown apartment. I was the new youth pastor, beginning to get to know Brenda Kegans, the Youth Ministries Assistant. I was about to take the Class of 2011 on their senior mystery trip to Clearwater, Fla. I knew hardly any church or staff members.
Today, I live in Grapevine with Michael and our 3-month-old son, James. I’m the Associate Pastor of Discipleship, ready to come back after maternity leave. The staff and congregation has become my family. Brenda is one of my most special friends. And I just got ordained. I have no idea what to expect from the next five years. But I hope we are growing as disciples, living into our mission, drawing people into our family, and continuing to be creative and try new things.