Rev. Gusti Linnea Newquist

Pastor

Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church is delighted to announce that we have called the Reverend Gusti Linnea Newquist to be our new pastor. The congregation voted to approve her terms of call at our September 15 congregational meeting in a unanimous vote. The Rev. Newquist brings with her a wealth of education and experience that make her uniquely suited to lead SPC into our future. Highlights include:

• MDiv, HarvardDivinity School
• BA, Marshall University
• Assistant Campus Minister, Presbyterian Campus Ministry, Marshall University
• Weeks 1+2 of Interim Pastor Training
• Master Level Reiki Training
• 9 Years of pastoral experience serving congregations
• 8 years with the National Network of Presbyterian College Women, General Assembly Staff, PCUSA
• Immigration Network Co-founder and Co-convener, Albany Presbytery
• More Light Presbyterians, Regional Coordinator

A Biography in Her Own Words
Rev. Gusti Linnea Newquist

I spent my early childhood in Fredericksburg, VA and spent many summers, week-ends, and holidays in the Shenandoah Valley. My family joined the First United Methodist Church of Fredericksburg when I was five years old, and by the age of ten I was debating issues of faith with my Sunday School teachers. (I’m only partly proud of this!)

My family moved to north Alabama when I was eleven, which changed my worldview forever. I became “an outsider,” and struggled mightily to “fit in.” I also came face-to-face with racism and segregation even in a supposedly “integrated” school system. We continued to be active in the United Methodist Church until my sophomore year of high school, when my father had a falling out with the power structure of the church. I, myself, was discovering other religions at that time and was content to step back from a formal church experience.

I intended to remain what is now termed “spiritual but not religious” until pure peer pressure led me to the Presbyterian Campus Ministry at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. First, I was drawn into the social ministries of the group: visiting nursing homes and providing activities for teenagers who had been removed from their schools by the court system. Then, I was drawn into the possibility of “a thinking faith” that invited more and more questions in exchange for “pat answers.” Finally, I was drawn into deep love and caring offered by the campus minister to students across a very dramatic theological spectrum, love and caring that I ultimately understand came directly from an experience of the living God.

I leapt at the opportunity to serve at the Presbyterian headquarters in Louisville with the National Network of Presbyterian College Women and ended up staying for nearly eight years. When the opportunity arose to climb the corporate church ladder, God called me instead to matriculate full-time at Harvard Divinity School. At the time, post-9/11, I knew God was calling me to interfaith peacemaking (Harvard is an interfaith community), and I suspected God might be calling me to campus ministry or academia.

Little did I know a small, thriving community adjacent to Tufts University in Somerville would lead me to discern a call to the parish! Wow! The preaching, the teaching, the caring, the healing, the opportunities for communal action drew me in and have never let me go. I finally accepted what I never imagined possible in my Bible belt upbringing: God was calling ME to be a pastor!

Upon graduating from HDS, I have served three More Light congregations across the country and have discovered I have additional gifts for strategic visioning, spiritual formation, adaptive change, teaching Bible, bridge-building, and deep listening. My recent training as a Spiritual Director and Reiki Master have deepened my commitment to contemplative connection as the foundation for all social action.

As a poet, preacher, teacher, and healer, I was thrilled to learn of the ministry of Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church. Although I was “not actively seeking” to leave my ministry in upstate New York, I just couldn’t shake the sense that God might be trying to bring us together. In many ways, Shepherdstown already feels like “home.”