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Kathy Chesney new United Church minister

On Sunday, July 6, Kathy Chesney will be giving her first sermon as the new minister for the United Church in Philip and for the First Presbyterian Church of Interior.

"For many years I struggled and passed by the calling to be a pastor," said Chesney. "Finally I just couldn't say no anymore. Since, it has been great; there is no other word for it, even with the insane schedule." Even before that decision came in August of 2005, her schedule had been full.

Chesney was raised in Michigan. After she graduated from Margarat Upton Conservatory of Music - Olivet College in Olivet, MI, she was a band instructor at White River High School from the fall of 1988 to the spring of 1991. Then she hired on as the band director at Jones County High School in Murdo.

She joined the Murdo Ambulance Service and the Murdo Fire and Rescue and has been with both for 16 years. In 1998, she stepped up from her Emergency Medical Technician rating to being a paramedic with a certification from the Avera McKennan School of EMS.

In 1995, Chesney changed position within the school system to become a guidance counselor. A year later, she completed her masters in counseling at South Dakota State University. She had nine years in as a counselor when the school district went through a period of personnel cuts. Chesney's position was one of several that were eliminated. In 2006, she returned as a part-time instrumental music instructor.

In January of 2006, she began her seminary studies. Now that Chesney is responsible for a full-time parish, the United Methodist Conference stipulates that her continuing seminary studies may not be on a full-time level. For seminary studies, taking nine credits at a time is considered a full load. As a part-time student, Chesney should be able to complete all requirements in three and a half years. While fulfilling her duties as a pastor in Philip and Interior, she will be in Sioux Falls on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for her continuing seminary studies.

The United Methodist Conference operates on a pastoral appointment system. The district superintendent matched up Chesney's credentials with requirements given by the Philip and Interior session councils. Those councils reviewed her resume and held a face-to-face introduction-interview. Both she and the councils believed it was a good match and the appointment was made at the end of May.

Chesney said, "With transitioning out of my responsibilities in Jones County, I haven't had much time even for moving." She has transitioned out of working full-time for the Murdo Ambulance Service and part-time teaching of EMS at Sanford Sioux Valley Hospital. She has concluded any congregation-member commitments with the White River church where she has been affiliated. She has ended her part-time teaching of band, of which she said, "There is no such thing as teaching band 'part-time'." On June 25, an open house celebration was held in Murdo to recognize the contributions Chesney has made to that community.

Chesney has moved into the parsonage in Philip. "I hope people feel that they can call or stop in any time," said Chesney. "I consider it a sacred honor to be invited into situations."

"I think the Methodist and Presbyterian churches are close enough so there should not be any real issues between them. I may use some phrases that are more Methodist, but I will work on that. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is two sets of annual reports, double the paperwork," she said.

"I will encourage people and let them perform their talents. We have two, three or even more people who are highly qualified in music and definitely know what they are doing," said Chesney. "We all can start together and go on this journey together. My first sermon will be on my call to the ministry and its relationship to the 91st Psalms."