Rev. Tracey Leslie, '93 Spotlight
Pastor, Marquette Park United Methodist Church, Gary, IN
I'm currently serving as pastor of the Marquette Park United Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana, where I am the only pastoral staff in a racially diverse urban congregation. Although it’s within the city limits, it’s a small, close-knit community on the shores of Lake Michigan where the Indiana Dunes begin. I am in my 8th year of ministry here.
I originally chose United because of its urban location and the opportunity it gave me to use my music through United Sound. Those two things turned out to very much shape my ministry through the years. My current appointment to Marquette Park was most influenced by United. Seeking an appointment in the North Indiana Conference, I provided them with my resume which included my experiences and education related to urban ministry and multi-racial ministry. It is not a large congregation but it is important within the state of Indiana because of its racial diversity. It was important to the North Indiana cabinet to select a pastor who had positive educational and pastoral experiences in diverse, urban congregations.
My fondest memories of United are United Sound, particularly our tours, and my bible and worship classes. We had four excellent bible professors during my time at United who did a great job of providing me with the exegetical skills and tools necessary for teaching and preaching effectively. But, my favorite class was Work of Worship with Dr. Kendall McCabe. I believe that preaching and leading worship (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, of course) has tremendous power to shape and direct a faith community not only in their individual spiritual journeys, but in their call as the body of Christ.
My advice to those considering seminary is develop disciplined study and devotional time while you're in seminary. Life and ministry won't ever get any less hectic than it is now. And never be afraid to be challenged. I've learned the most through the years from the people with whom I initially disagreed.