I doubt there is any way for me to adequately express my delight at becoming the new Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families here at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church! Since my first day in July, I have felt welcomed and affirmed in my call to serve Jesus here, and I am so thankful to become a part of the BMPC family. Walking alongside young people as they grow is a profound privilege, one that I do not take for granted.
I am confident my first year of ministry here will be eye-opening, fabulous, challenging, exciting, exhausting, and good. I cannot wait to get to know our students and families, to see how God is already moving in their lives. It is so clear to me that BMPC is a church that deeply cares for its young people, and I am honored to be a part of that legacy.
Though it will take some time, I dream of when I’ll walk into the gymnasium for a Sunday morning youth gathering and know every teenager’s name, their parents and guardians, and what brings them life. I am eager to share life together with you all, to become an adult in the life of a teenager whose only agenda for them is that they feel utterly loved and accepted by their Creator.
And if I am hoping that you share your lives with me, it’s only fair I share a bit of mine with you - so, the brief history of Leigh DeVries:
I was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the youngest child of a Presbyterian pastor from a long line of pastors and theologians. My teenage years were punctuated by mission trips, camp leadership, and musical worship. I was deeply cared for in the youth ministry of First Presbyterian Church Nashville, and it became the developmental backdrop which formed my love of Jesus and my call to love the world as Jesus did.
After graduating from Nashville (High) School of the Arts, I attended Rhodes College in Memphis. I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies and a Minor in Music. After trying my hand at the world of professional music, I spent a few transformational months working as an itinerant farmer in New Zealand. I returned to Nashville to be a part of the Center for Youth Ministry Training and served on staff in the youth ministry at my home church, beginning my overtly theological education at Memphis Theological Seminary in 2013.
Working as a youth pastor while simultaneously taking seminary courses provided an incredible opportunity to experience practical theology. During this time, I felt a strong call to work with young people. Their passion and willingness to ask the big questions of faith still inspires me to more deeply love God, myself, and the world around me.
Two years later, I moved to New Jersey to attend Princeton Theological Seminary. In May 2017, I graduated with a Master of Divinity, a Master of Arts in Christian Education and Formation, and a Certificate in Women, Theology and Gender. Beginning in August 2017, I worked as the Associate Director of the Bend Youth Collective, a progressive, ecumenical youth group made up of youth from five different churches in Bend, Oregon.
My partner, Jenni (who I met in seminary), and I were married a mere couple months ago on May 25. And, a week after our wedding, we hopped in the car with our dog Otis Redding and began the cross-country trek from Bend to Bryn Mawr! Both of us are thrilled to be here and look forward with joy to the roots we will put down here. Thank you so much for welcoming us into this place.
May we grow together as a church community, taking part in what God is already doing to transform the world. I leave you with this, my second favorite scripture: “The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love,” from Galatians 5:6b.
So friends, let us love.