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Evangel alumni perspective: Michael Gehring

Name: Michael J. Gehring

Graduation Year: 1983

Major: Biblical Studies

Current Position: Senior Pastor of Broad Street United Methodist Church and Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Theology at Hood Theological Seminary

City and State: Statesville, North Carolina

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

My vocational journey has been filled with plenty of roundabouts. I was raised Roman Catholic and am a graduate of a Benedictine High School, Subiaco Academy. From childhood, I felt a sense of call and had an intense spiritual experience the first year in college. Friends of mine who attended Evangel recommended it and I transferred there my sophomore year. Reconciling the Roman Catholic faith with the Protestant world sometimes felt like cognitive dissonance. However, the sense of call remained and eventually, I ended up at Princeton Theological Seminary. After graduation, I took my first full-time appointment at Cavanaugh United Methodist Church in Fort Smith.

Approaching now the third decade of pastoral ministry, I am grateful to God for the journey and the blessing of it all.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

There are so many; I cannot narrow it down to just one. Listening to the guest lectures of poets, novelists, and theologians, having late night coffee with friends at Shoney’s, discussing philosophy, missions, world events, campus occurrences, and the frivolities of life, road trips with Bruce Cockburn, U-2, and Bob Dylan blasting, serving as co-chair (along with Lorne Swain) of World Missions, and living in the Bohican House with a great group of guys—the friendships made at Evangel have immeasurably enriched my life.

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

Though my sense of call was present before attending Evangel, Evangel graciously provided professors who were passionate about the Gospel as it intersects with our world and the quest for truth. Twila Edwards, Larry Williams, Sandra Vekasy, Larry Nelson, and James Edwards influenced me in ways that they never knew but for which I will always be grateful. Twila introduced me to and gave me the great love for C.S. Lewis’s works.

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

Evangel prepared me well to pursue post-graduate studies.

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

I am reluctant to give advice as Rhonda (my wife) says I too freely dispense recommendations and considerations. With that said, life is a journey and our Lord reveals his purposes for us in all the roundabouts, wrong roads taken, and detours. Don’t allow cultural templates or other external forces to tell you who you should be. Listen to that voice, sometimes still, and sometimes roaring like a lion. 

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

A passion to bear witness to God’s love in all that they do.