Our New Pastor
My name is Matt Price, and I have been a United Methodist pastor since 2013. I was born and raised in wild, wonderful West Virginia, where I grew up as a preacher’s kid in the West Virginia Conference of the UMC. My faith in Jesus, along with a love for the Bible and the church, has been central to my identity ever since I was little. I’ve always been thankful that I attended a Christian school while growing up that encouraged much memorization of Scripture, because verses I first learned at that time stick with me to this day. But, as a child, I’ll be honest that I had no sense God would call me to become a pastor like my dad. Actually, I entered college at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA with the intention of becoming a professor of English literature. The Lord had other plans for me, though!
I graduated from Washington and Lee in 2009 with a B.A. in English and Medieval & Renaissance Studies, after which I entered Duke Divinity School in North Carolina, where I graduated with both a Master of Divinity (2012) degree and a Master of Theology (2013). Even at the start of seminary, I thought I could best use the gifts God had given me through teaching. But, during my time serving as a chaplain at an Urban Ministry in NC, the Holy Spirit showed me I have gifts for pastoral ministry as well, gifts God intended for me to use. I’ll always be amazed that God gave me my call to be a pastor while I was in ministry among the hungry and those suffering from homelessness. It reminds me that God so often speaks to us when we remain connected with folks on the margins, those whom Jesus speaks of in Matthew 25 as “the least of these who are members of [his] family.” If someone is struggling to hear God’s voice, then volunteering time with those who are in need is certainly one way to fix that, because it happened for me at Greensboro Urban Ministry in North Carolina. But, I’m thankful that, since that time, God led me to become a pastor, and I have served the wonderful people of the South Hills Partnership of Pittsburgh, PA in that role since 2013.
During my six years in ministry so far, I have particularly developed my gifts for preaching, teaching, pastoral care for those who are sick or grieving, and discipleship. In addition, being the lead pastor of a group of four churches for several years has certainly developed my skills in church administration. I have also found much joy and fulfillment in leading members of my congregations into Christian community. One way I did that was through starting a small group based on the class meeting of early Methodism. It’s the kind of group where members check in on each other every week in order to pray for one another and encourage each other’s continued growth into Christlikeness. That group ended up being a blessing to each of my churches; since those who joined not only found personal support for their own Christian walks from that group but also went on to start new missions and ministries in their congregations. I believe that we all need that kind of regular support and accountability from brothers and sisters in Christ if we are to grow in our faith.
God also calls us as Christians to be active in our communities, seeing the needs around us and doing our part as the people of God to address those needs. I am blessed that God used me to lead each of the churches I’ve pastored to new ministries for their community, including through prayer walks in their neighborhoods, the construction of a Little Free Library and Little Free Pantry, Summer Feeding Programs, community block parties, and the offering of various support groups and means of fighting back against the opioid epidemic that has ravaged the South Hills of Pittsburgh. During my time there, Fairhaven UMC has become especially known for its ministry to addicts and those who love them. That’s what being the church is all about.
I also must share that one of my proudest moments of ministry was organizing a marathon reading of the Bible out loud in the sanctuary of Hill Top UMC in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh. That event came about after that congregation suffered a devastating fire in their church building in 2014, a fire that left them for a year with no place to worship except for the community room of an apartment building down the street. But, once the new church was nearing completion, I planned a marathon reading of the Bible as a means of blessing the new sanctuary. The way it worked was that members, friends, and neighbors around the church signed up for reading shifts. Then, for a week leading up to the opening worship service in the new sanctuary, we took turns reading the whole Bible out loud from Genesis to Revelation. One other thing that made that event so special is that the congregation of Hill Top UMC is inter-racial, located in a diverse community. And when I look back at pictures from that event, seeing people who are black and white, young and old, of all backgrounds and levels of education, gathered in that sanctuary for the reading of God’s word, I see a picture of God’s kingdom on earth. To this day, I still thank God for the privilege of participating in that event.
Of course, I am also immensely blessed to be married to my high-school sweetheart, Jessica, for nearly ten years. We have two beautiful daughters: four-year-old Naomi Rose and one-year-old Lila Joy (as well as two dogs: Willow and Ladybug!).Jessica is a pediatrician, working at the Northside Christian Health Center of Pittsburgh. I love serving God’s church and helping to form disciples in the image of Jesus. By the grace of God, I’m still following God’s leading on this journey of faith, and I’m looking forward to the coming years of ministry!