Joseph Moore joins Foundation as Ministry Relations Officer

January 21, 2020 by Erin Dunigan

When Rev. Joseph Moore looks toward the future of the church he sees one of hope and possibility.

Moore is the Presbyterian Foundation’s new Ministry Relations Officer for the South Central Region, replacing Sherry Kenney, who recently retired. His territory includes Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.

His path, as often seems to happen, has been a circuitous one, but he loves the opportunity to work with many different churches and see how each is serving Christ. “Visiting with pastors and church members and working with them is a wonderful calling, and I’m grateful to have the chance to serve in this new way,” Moore said.

Ministry Relations Officers are financial and gift planning professionals who are called to work with pastors and church leaders to cultivate generosity and promote stewardship within their congregations. They are also church leaders, often having served as pastors, elders, and in other capacities throughout the denomination. Moore recently served as a Presbytery Moderator.

A second career

Joseph Moore and Sherry Kenney

Prior to attending seminary at Austin Theological Seminary, Moore raced as a professional triathlete and worked as a hiking and mountain biking guide while his wife, Shelley, was in her medical residency.

“It was as a guide that I got to spend a lot of time in the wilderness and found myself beginning to think of going to seminary,” he said. His thought was not to become a pastor, but rather to earn a doctorate and teach.

He didn’t see himself as a natural fit for seminary, but once enrolled, he made lifelong friendships and began to discern a new path for his life.

“I saw people who deeply cared about the church and who really believed that it can still change the world,” Moore said. He found himself thinking that he wanted to be part of just such a movement.

His first call was to a downtown church in Austin. “Great things were happening there and ministry was vibrant,” Moore said. It was a church that had decided that it would stay a downtown church, and minister to its longtime neighborhood.

When his wife received a new job opportunity in Ft. Collins, they moved with their three kids from the city to a rural mountain community nearby.

Moore accepted a call to serve as pastor of Buckhorn Presbyterian Church in Masonville, Colo., which was as different a congregation from his downtown Austin congregation as Moore could imagine. Moore’s new congregation was the only church in the valley. When people needed something, regardless of whether or not they attended worship services, they considered it to be their church.

After a few years pastoring the rural congregation, Moore left to become a Parish Associate at a large congregation in Ft. Collins. He also recently served as a Presbytery moderator.

Moore’s service as a pastor has introduced him to different kinds of congregations – from downtown, tall-steeple congregations to rural churches, each with their own ways of serving in ministry. The mix has allowed him to see quite a wide cross-section of the church – something which he thinks will serve him well in his new role with the Foundation.

Making a difference

When Moore was initially asked to consider the opening at the Foundation he said an immediate no. “I was happy doing what I was doing and didn’t really feel a call,” he said. But, when he hung up the phone, there was something that wouldn’t quite let him rest.

So, when approached again, Moore agreed to at least have a few conversations. During one of those conversations Moore was struck by a statement he heard from one of his interviewers. “She said, ‘My experience working for the Foundation is that they really invite us to make a difference in churches.” That was the moment that Moore realized that God might in fact be calling him to be part of that difference.

Moore will be covering the South Central region. The region is culturally diverse, and Moore feels that his previous roles have in some part prepared him for that. “My hope is that my experience as a pastor is helpful in being able to listen and to guide congregations in mission and ministry and resource development,” he said.

Moore is excited to join in encouraging, and telling the stories of faithful ministry in the PC(USA). “I don’t want to downplay the fact that the church is changing,” Moore said, “but there are also amazing things happening in the life of the church.”

Erin Dunigan is an ordained evangelist and teaching elder in the PC(USA). She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary. She serves as a photographer, writer and communications consultant and lives near the border in Baja California, Mexico.