Professors who preach: Union employs several who enjoy dual roles

By Kathleen Hartsfield
Staff Writer

At the end of a long day, it’s nice to come home.

For Dr. Kelvin Moore, professor of Biblical Studies, the day lasts a little longer than it does for other professors.

Moore, first called to ministry at age 16, is pastor of Idlewood Baptist Church, and on his 30-mile commute home to Bradford, he often stops in the rural community of Idlewood, Tenn., to visit members of his congregation.

Moore is one of a few Union faculty members who are pastors outside of the classroom.

Other professors who are current or former pastors include Dr. Paul Jackson, Dr. George Guthrie, Dr. Taylor Worley and Dr. Ray Van Neste.

Dr. Walton Padelford, Porter Family professor of business and economics, is an elder at Christ Community Church in Jackson.

Padelford came to Union to teach economics in 1980 but has been teaching the Bible for 35 years at church and in his home to groups of students.

He became an elder nine years ago at the prompting of two other elders: Dennis Williams and Ross Guthrie.

Padelford said he has been able to help the church with budgeting and finance in addition to teaching from the Bible.

Dr. Taylor Worley is involved in both the School of Theology and Missions and the Office of Spiritual Life as the assistant professor of Christian thought and tradition and the associate dean for spiritual life.

In addition to these roles, Worley is an elder at City Fellowship Baptist Church in downtown Jackson. He has been an elder since February 2011.

The roles of teaching students and pastoring a church have similarities and differences, Worley said, explaining that Union has a “more holistic way of teaching” that can be a “form of life coaching.”

This type of relationship is similar to that which occurs between a church elder or pastor and church members.

Many Union students attend City Fellowship and know Worley as pastor rather than professor. A few students know him as both.

In those cases, Worley said he seeks to maintain consistency of character whether he is talking to a Union student as his student in class or a member of his church.

“I want to be the same person wherever I am,” he said.

For these professors, taking on another role as a pastor has been just another part of their calling. Moore said he felt called to ministry at 16.

He was first a pastor and became a professor 10 years later.

Worley said that as a Christian, fulfillment was not going to come just from his vocation.

“You can’t find all the fulfillment and all the energy and all the joy you want out of life in just your vocation,” Worley said. “You have to be rooted in a community of people that you’re living life and practicing the Christian faith with.”

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