Weaver Welcomes the Privilege to Serve

The Reverend Connie Weaver's favorite part of ministry is being present with people at tender times of life. Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot

By Maggie Beamguard

Insider Editor

When it comes to calling God’s people to serve, the immutable, infinite and eternal One — the Alpha and Omega — is no respecter of sleep. 

Call stories in the Old and New Testament feature dreams, voices and disturbances designed to grab someone’s attention — to rouse them from slumber. This pattern seems true to form for the women who have been called to serve churches in the West End, not the least of all, the Reverend Connie Weaver. 

Roused From Slumber

When Weaver’s awakening began, she was expecting her second of three children. And while sleep problems are common in pregnancy, Weaver felt like hers originated from a different kind of discomfort, a spiritual one. 

“I knew it had something to do with my relationship with God, but I didn’t know what it was. I would get up, and I would sit and I would read,” she said. She remembers asking God why she was lying awake at night and what  God wanted her to do.

“One night this happened. I was praying and just had this really strong sense that the Lord was calling me into ministry and ordained ministry as a pastor.” 

Her response? “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Weaver started bargaining a little. “Ok, I will do this, but I don’t want to pastor a church. That’s too hard. I will be a chaplain.” 

She slept peacefully for a few nights before it started up again.”Ok. I will be a chaplain or a pastor, but do not give me the enormous responsibility of working with teenagers.” 

Back and forth, she argued. Finally, Weaver realized what she would have to do if she was to ever get a full night’s sleep again. She surrendered, saying “Lord, I will do whatever you want me to do now. I will do whatever you want me to do. And that was that.”

A Dream Deferred

Weaver grew up in East Tennessee, south of Knoxville. Faith featured prominently in her Southern Baptist upbringing. She felt nudges toward ministry in college, but also sensed that there was not an easy path for her as a woman to ordained ministry. 

In her tradition, women more often served as Christian Educators or in the mission field.

A worship service she attended during college sharply outlined in a new way the traditional roles of women in the Southern Baptist churches she had long attended. Language emphasizing how the Deacon’s wives were invited to a fellowship event communicated to her in a succinct way that there were no women in ordained ministry in the congregation.

“I knew this. But it was just a moment when it was in front of me so clearly.” 

This was a pivotal moment for Weaver, who left the service fully alive to God’s calls upon everyone to serve in any capacity God needs.

Weaver notes that there are female pastors in Southern Baptist churches because individual congregations make decisions about who they ordain. “But it’s still very difficult,” she said.

“When I would go to talk to pastors about feeling a tug on my life and asking about my options for being a pastor, there was never an option that was mentioned to me. And so I just went on and did other things. Then when I was in my 30s it just came roaring back. That’s the only way I can explain it.”

But for many years, she put thoughts of ordained ministry to the back of her mind. 

She earned her undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Tennessee. Her first professional job out of college was with an AM-FM radio combo in Winston Salem. She worked in advertising, news media and even real estate. 

Eventually she and her husband, Joe, settled in Morganton  to care for his parents. Along the way they started a family and a bookstore and coffee shop. It was a hectic but fun time.

“We had storytelling on Saturday morning. We were in a community location where people would come through and meet each other and talk. It was just nice.”

But owning and running a small business did not coincide with family life. They closed up shop in 1996.

The Reverend Connie Weaver, Culdee Presbyterian Church. Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot

Awake to the Call

Having gained a variety of professional experiences, Weaver entered a season of spiritual exploration. 

Her family had joined First Presbyterian Church in Morganton and she also attended a course at the local Episcopal church called “Education for Ministry.” 

In the Presbyterian Church, a call to ministry is felt inwardly, but is confirmed by the larger church. A good friend, the rector of the Episcopal church who knew nothing of Weaver’s wakeful wonderings, approached. He told her that he and his wife had been noticing Weaver’s gifts. “We don’t know how you feel about this,” he said, “but we both feel like we are seeing you called to the pastorate.”

The affirmation blew Weaver away. “It was what I needed.” Her husband’s response to all this was wry. Joe told her, “I don’t have anything against preachers, Connie, I just never thought I’d be married to one.” He has become her biggest support and cheerleader. 

She also received the blessing of her grandfather, a Southern Baptist Deacon when he was in his 90s. When she told him her plans, he reminded her of two important doctrines from the Baptist church: the priesthood of the believer, meaning respecting an individual’s relationship with God and the ability to communicate with God directly, and the autonomy of the local church. 

Because of those principles of independence, he gave her his support.

“It was just one of the sweetest things that he could have said at that time because I loved this man so much. He had so much to do with my spiritual upbringing, and it just was really wonderful that that all came from full circle with him.”

Within a year of closing the bookstore, Weaver found herself sitting in Greek school at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia — often the first step in pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.

She graduated in 2000 and was ordained to serve as associate pastor of Fort Hill Presbyterian Church in Clemson, South Carolina. She has also served churches in Asheboro and near Richmond, Virginia. 

Weaver’s first Sunday at Culdee Presbyterian, located on N.C. 73 among the old farm land and just past the Eastwood Fire Department, was June 5, 2022.

Surrendering to Service

Weaver, with over 20 years of ordained ministry, long ago ran out of bargaining chips. Her children are long grown and now she has three grandchildren to visit. 

In her free time, she enjoys reading for pleasure or antiquing with a friend. Treasure hunting in antique or consignment stores gives her a tactile break from the cerebral aspects of ministry. “It uses a different part of my brain, and I find it very relaxing.”

She has surrendered to the call to serve. There is challenge in the call and joy. Her favorite part of ministry is hard to explain. 

“It’s going to sound odd to someone who has not done this,” she said, “but it’s the privilege of being present with people at tender times of life: when babies are born, and when people go into hospice and when people have life transitions. It’s a privilege to be with people at those times.”

It is also a privilege to stand in the pulpit, Weaver said. “I take it very seriously. It’s not that important words can’t be said at any other time, but I have the privilege of walking up there on Sunday morning and speaking words about the holy scriptures, and to me that is a very serious responsibility.”

Another privilege of service is the opportunity to create community with others.

“The only perfect human who ever lived was Jesus,” she said. “And all the rest of us are just trying to do this life together the best we can.” Congregations are made of imperfect people with opportunities to show love and compassion. “I try to do everything I can to love people.” 

Culdee Presbyterian has a long history in Moore county with strong family ties to the community. “This is a very generous church,” Weaver said. “The members take a lot of ownership. There is a lot of volunteer readiness here. I see a lot of evidence of the love of Christ in this place.” 

Culdee Presbyterian Church meets for worship at 10 a.m. on Sundays. For more information about the church and its ministry in West End and beyond, visit the church website at culldeechuch.net.

Contact Maggie Beamguard at maggie@thepilot.com.