New pastor will lead the Methodist congregation

Kathryn Morse is the new minister at the Vashon United Methodist Church. - Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo
Kathryn Morse is the new minister at the Vashon United Methodist Church.
— image credit: Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo

It was not so long ago that Kathryn Morse was regularly teaching a Sunday School class for high school students at a United Methodist Church in Renton, and one of the boys in her class was Darryn Hewson.

Time passed, and both teacher and student are now ordained ministers in the United Methodist Church. And in an unusual twist, in July they swapped pulpits. The Rev. Darryn Hewson, after spending three years as pastor of Vashon United Methodist Church, was transferred to a new congregation in Everett that melded the congregations of the First United Methodist and St. John’s United Methodist into a new congregation — the Spirit of Grace United Methodist Church.

His former Sunday School teacher, meanwhile, now the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Morse, left the First Methodist Church in Everett and moved to Vashon to helm the Vashon United Methodist Church.

Morse, 61, says that the ministry is really her third career. Her first career was in theater management for San Diego State University, a career path she followed for about five years. She spent about 10 years working in human resources for the Bon Marche. There were gaps during both of these positions when she took time to “be a mom,” as she put it, to a son and a daughter.

She had taught her first Sunday school class at age 18, and that may have been when she got “the call,” she said.

As the years passed, she felt increasingly that teaching Sunday School was really the most important thing she did. Someone suggested that if Morse felt that strongly, she should go into the ministry. So in 1997, at the age of 47, she embarked on preparation for her third career.

The first obstacle she had to overcome was one of gender: Very few women were being ordained at that time. She also needed to get seminary training to prepare her for advanced study. She finally managed to persuade the Jesuit-oriented Seattle University to accept her as she prepared to become a Methodist minister. She was the first United Methodist to be ordained by the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, blazing a path that now prepares ministers for more than a dozen Protestant denominations.

She completed her academic training at San Francisco Theological Seminary, earning a Doctor of Ministry degree last May. In addition to her duties at Vashon United Methodist Church, she also is an adjunct faculty member of Seattle University in the School of Theology and Ministry, teaching a three‐quarter‐long section of Ministerial and Theological Integration.

Although her first Sunday service on Vashon was scheduled for July 10, she and her husband Steve, an engineer for the state Department of Transportation, were already at work on Vashon a full week earlier to begin painting the interior of the parsonage. Intending to complete the paint job Sunday afternoon, Morse that morning traded her painting togs for gown and alb to serve communion at the July 3 service.

The Morses have a blended family — he has two daughters from a previous marriage, she has a son and a daughter from a previous marriage, and as a couple, they have one son. Their children are all out of the nest, though, so the couple will have the parsonage to themselves.

The congregation enthusiastically welcomed the new minister, who goes by Pastor Kathy, and her husband. As Morse wrote in her first message in the church newsletter, “We have already discovered that you extend radical hospitality and that you like to laugh.”

— Harry Reinert, a former news reporter and editor, is a parishioner at Vashon United Methodist Church.

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