Rev. Rachael Margaret McConnell preached her first sermon with us on September 5, 2021. She is the first female pastor in our 128 year history! Watch her October 10th Service of Ordination and Installation.
Rachael McConnell, a Texas native, comes most recently from Cary, NC, where she serves as director of children’s and family ministry at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh. She and her husband, Josh, have four sons: Isaac, 15; Esmond, 12; John, 4; and Willie, 18 months. Rachael came to faith in Christ as a teenager after her best friend in high school asked her to sing in her church choir when she was 15 because of her love of singing. She began attending the church, and on her 17th birthday, was both baptized and ordained as an elder on Session.
Rachael says her ministry is about “creating a community where people are centered in Christ, but also are loving one another while serving their community.” She credits the Rev. Dr. Jeanie Stanley and her first church community for recognizing her leadership gifts at a young age, while walking her through developing her faith and recognizing God’s calling for her. “That was the mustard seed that started my calling to ministry and very much shaped my ministry,” Rachael said. She describes her ministry as nimble and ready to move where the Spirit leads, and she is open to hearing people’s ideas, which helps in preaching, leading and listening.
A woman of many talents, Rachael earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in music from the University of Texas at Arlington. She has an enriched background in which she has done many things, from being a speech competitor and opera singer to teaching music and Spanish, and performing improv comedy. After graduating with her undergrad degree, she, Isaac and Josh moved to Argentina for two and a half years before returning to Texas where Rachael enrolled in seminary. She completed her Masters of Divinity at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and served in various capacities at churches in Texas before moving to North Carolina for Josh’s career.
Rachael knew she was called to be a pastor as a 21-year-old new mother, teaching at a Christian school and working on her undergrad degree when she heard God tell her she was a pastor. She heard the same words again after returning from Argentina, and with the support of Josh and other ministry leaders in her life nurturing that calling, she entered ministry work. After feeling an urging to find where God was calling her, Rachael and Josh recently visited Boone to unplug and spend time in prayer and discernment. Their last day there, they decided to pray over different churches in their search and contacted Banner Elk Presbyterian around the same time our PNC independently became interested in Rachael’s candidacy.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to be able to serve,” Rachael said. “I feel like my whole life has been equipping me for this point, and I’m just so ready and so excited to step into the next chapter.”
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with a minor in music: University of Texas at Arlington, 2008
- Masters of Divinity: Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 2017
- 2018 Children’s Pastor Conference
- 2018 Mid-Winter Lectures Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
- 2018 APCE Southwest Regional Seminary 2019 Mid-Winter Lectures Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
- 2019 Orange Conference
- 2020 Mid-Winter Lectures Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
- 2020 Walking the Mourner’s Path Facilitator Training
- Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, North Carolina: Director of Children’s and Family Ministry (June 2020-Current)
- Covenant Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas: Congregational Care Intern (January 2020-May 2020) & Associate Director of Children and Family Ministry (August 2017-January 2020)
- Riverbend Church, Austin, Texas: Pastor to Adults Intern (August 2016-May 2017)
- IF: Local Leader
- IF: Burleson, Burleson, TX, Austin Seminary and Covenant Presbyterian Church, Austin, TX (September 2014-Current)
- HESED Conference Student Leader, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (2016-2017)
- Children’s Choir Director, Preschool Worship Leader, and FX Praise Team Leader FBC, Georgetown, TX (2011-2015)
Pastor Nominating Committee Report
Watch the video of the special Congregational Meeting on July 18, 2021. to hear the PNC report.
Q&A with the McConnells
Favorite food? Indian food.
Favorite parable of Jesus? The Mustard Seed. Even though it is a short parable, it shows up in three Gospels. I just take such great comfort in the fact that the Kingdom and our faith, in the same manner, can have such humble beginnings and grow into something so huge. The Gospel and the Kingdom of God offer us shelter; a home to grow and thrive in.
What song makes you want to dance? The Other Side by Justin Timberlake and SZA, or Makeba by Jain
How many languages do you speak? Two, English and Español
What is your favorite vacation, past or future? My favorite vacation that we have taken was to Argentina in 2018 where we visited the penguins of Punta Tombo, the End of the World in Ushuaia, and spent Christmas with old friends in Esmond’s hometown of Esquel. My dream vacation would be either a week in Iceland or Italy.
Coke or Pepsi? Coke. But I will take Sweet Tea over soda any day.
What’s your favorite zoo animal? In San Antonio, we had the chance to see swimming Hippos. It was amazing. But I also always love Giraffes and Chimpanzees.
What is the last book you read (or favorite book)? I am currently reading The Testaments, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and Dusk Night Dawn. My favorite novel is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Other than Jesus, which person from the Bible would you most like to have a conversation with? As a mother, I would love to have a conversation with Mary. How it was to raise and care for a child, who was also God and your savior. I believe her story is such a true example of our relationship with the Holy. It is close and dear, yet mysterious, something we do want to control and understand, but something that we cannot.
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life? Tina Fey
Do you love or hate roller coasters? I love roller coasters, I am so excited to try the alpine coaster!
What’s your favorite family tradition? Spontaneous family dance parties in the living room.
What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you? It is hard to pin down just one thing. Our church family in Austin walked with us during the very short but dear life of our son Nathan. I had friends who served with their gifts of art, laughter, presence, bravery, prayer, and hospitality. They loved us in grace and courage that only Christ could provide.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? Candied Vegetables (green beans, tomatoes) from one of my mom’s work colleagues in China.
What is your favorite worship song/hymn? The Canticle of Turning (hymn) Build My Life (modern worship)
- Favorite food? Mexican Food
- Favorite hobby? Traveling & snow skiing
- Favorite sports team? Texas Rangers
- What are 3 fun facts about you? I am fluent in Spanish, I went to church and school with Kelly Clarkson, and I enjoy coaching baseball and basketball.
Son Isaac, Age 15
- Favorite food? Brisket & Sausage
- Favorite hobby? Baseball, Legos, video games
- Favorite sports team? Texas Rangers
- Favorite movie? Star Wars
- Fun Fact? I went to the State Robotics Championship in Texas
Son Esmond, Age 12
- Favorite food? Spaghetti
- Favorite hobby? Baseball, basketball, and inventing games
- Favorite sports team? Texas Rangers
- Favorite movie? Ready Player One
- Fun Fact? I was born in Patagonia, Argentina
Son John, Age 4
- Favorite food? Cookies
- Favorite game? Imaginative play (make-believe)
- Favorite tv show? Paw Patrol
Son Willie, Age 1
- Favorite food? Bananas
- Favorite game? Bouncing on his horse
- Favorite tv show? Baby animal
THANK YOU to our fantastic Pastor Nominating Committee!