Pastor Karen Muntzing
I am not a “child of the church.” Church was not our family’s practice or expectation. I had a profound experience of the love of God when I was in high school. Unfortunately, within a year or so, I had an experience that sent me running from God and the church for about 17 years. My journey back involved deep healing and a continual growing in understanding of God’s love for me, even despite me. That there is nothing in heaven or on earth that can separate me–or anyone else–from God’s amazing love in Jesus Christ is good, even great news. As I have served in ministry, I am compelled that all receive the news that they are beloved by God. I believe that love is the most transformative force in the universe, and I believe at its best, the local church is the strongest outpost for sharing, proclaiming, and enacting that love in the world.
Though my family bounced around a bit, most of my childhood was spent in Medina, Ohio. I graduated from Ashland College with a degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management and Marketing. From there I enjoyed a busy career in restaurant management and specialty food sales, distribution, and management. I love books and have a problem with them—they multiply quickly. I am an avid learner, which is one of the reasons for my book “collection.” Water is my source for rejuvenation, whether river, lake, stream, ocean.
I met my husband Brook, who is a former chef and an excellent pitmaster, through my food-industry career and we married in 1987. If you guess that we like good food, you are right. Together we have one daughter, Sarah, who is a college student studying Public Policy. Brook and I operated a mini-farm together for 10 years: sheep, cows, chickens, turkeys, guinea hens, dogs and cats…neighbors with whom we shared land and had llamas…and more dogs and cats. As that adventure was winding down, Sarah was born and I sensed God was calling me to something new.
In 2000, I “tested the waters” by enrolling in seminary. By 2004, I had a Masters of Divinity and my first pastoral appointment at Westgate UMC in Columbus. From 2008 to 2019, I served as Executive Pastor at Hilliard UMC. And now, God has brought me here, to Christ United Methodist Church, and I am full of hope and excitement!
As a church, we share a common desire for social justice and community outreach. Together, we believe the church belongs “in the world,” that in fact we exist for the sake of the world, not just behind our own doors. Our congregation’s theological and ideological diversity is one of my draws to United Methodism…the notion of a “Big Tent” where there is room for all.
“We need not think alike to love alike,” and “If your heart is as mine, lend me your hand,” are simple sentiments from John Wesley which speak to my heart. Together we can “do good,” “do no harm,” and “stay in love with God,” loving each other over and beyond real or perceived differences, modeling a vision of shared life for the sake of the world.
Degrees/Certifications: 1985 B.S./B.A. Ashland College; 2004 M.Div. Methodist Theological School; 2004 Provisional Elder; 2007 Elder Ordination
Pastor Cheryl Arnold
I was licensed as a local pastor at Christ UMC in 2014. I received my theological training through the required Course of Study program—a 20 course curriculum taken at United Methodist seminaries.
I grew up a life-long Methodist near Wadsworth, Ohio. I majored in Psychology at Westminster College (New Wilmington, Pennsylvania) and spent the best two summers of my life with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (Rocky Mountain in Colorado and Acadia in Maine).
During graduate school at the University of Georgia, I felt God was calling me to teach. Hendrix College in Arkansas hired me in 1991; I taught Psychology and Animal Behavior courses and involved students in my research on golden hamsters and elephants. In 1998, my spouse Bob Westbrook and I moved to Marietta. I served as adjunct faculty in Psychology at Marietta College for the next 10 years.
Christ Church hired me in 1999 to begin our Christ Cares ministry and over the years, more responsibilities were added to my position. This is when I sensed that my call was changing. I entered Wesley Theological Seminary’s Equipping Lay Ministry program in 2006 and believed my position at Christ Church as Lay Ministries Coordinator was right where God wanted me to be. Around 2011, I started feeling like God was calling me to something different—and I was terrified it might be pastoral ministry.
I eventually talked with my pastor at the time, Don Archer, who explained the local pastor option and assured me that I could drop out at any time. But the further I went in the pre-licensing process, the clearer God’s call became. By God’s grace, my 27 years in Psychology opened my eyes to discrimination, violence, and mental illness…and throughout my various roles in ministry, the Holy Spirit has increasingly opened my heart to those society overlooks. Clearly, God used my past to prepare me to preach mercy, forgiveness and love.
Following Jesus’ example, I’ve learned to take Sabbath in order to listen to and stay connected with God. I usually do this on Mondays. In my free time I enjoy fishing whether I catch anything or not, gardening even when I kill the plants, snuggling with and singing to my cats, and tending my worm farm in the basement.
Degrees/Certifications: 1985 B.A. Westminster College; 1987 M.S. University of Georgia; 1991 Ph.D. University of Georgia; 2009 Lay Ministry Certification, Wesley Theological Seminary