Fred was born in Taipei, Republic of China, and considers himself stamped with "Made in Taiwan" despite his familial composition of American Presbyterian materials imported directly from Chester, South Carolina! He is an eighth generation Presbyterian, but like the apostle Paul, he does not rely on his past as his security of salvation. Instead, his security is the love of God through Jesus Christ: a love in which he continues to learn and grow as he goes on his journey through life.
Growing up all over the world (Taiwan, the UK, and Thailand, in addition to stints in Florida, California, and Alabama), Fred gained a rich global and ecumenical perspective before returning to South Carolina for High School and Winthrop College. Being actively involved in the Presbyterian Campus Ministry at Winthrop, Fred was sent by Bethel Presbytery (now Providence) as a Youth Advisory Delegate to the "Reunion Assembly" of the Northern and Southern Presbyterian churches. It was also at the Assembly the following year that he answered the call to go as a Volunteer in Mission to the French Reformed Church in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France after graduating Winthrop with a degree in Foreign Languages.
Returning to the States, Fred taught French for 15 years, piloted the teaching of Foreign languages in the Elementary Schools in the Durham, NC Public School system and joined First Presbyterian Church, a vibrant, nurturing congregation in the inner city of Durham where he learned to see all God's people as ministers of God's grace, doing lay visitation, teaching Sunday School, helping establish an Hispanic Ministry, planning worship and singing in the choir.
Supported by this congregation of nurture, Fred attended Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. Then, taking a year off from the seminary, he worked as Assistant Minister to the Old Parish Church of Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland which allowed him to grow and lead the youth of the Church as well as provide pastoral care to the large retired population of that community.
After graduation from Columbia, Fred was called to pastor Rogers Park Presbyterian Church, a loving, racially and culturally diverse inner-city church in Chicago, IL. He was ordained by New Hope Presbytery in 2002 to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. In this new environment, he learned more about urban ministry and how we, as smaller congregations, can serve Christ creatively and faithfully. But, because that facility housed several other smaller communities of faith (Haitian Church of God, a Ghanaian Presbyterian Church, a Spanish 7th Day Adventist Group, a Reconstructionist Synagogue), Fred learned to deeply appreciate that while these people were different in beliefs, each tradition had something to reveal about the face of our Triune God. Fred found the church's joint celebrations of Pentecost/Shavuot especially moving.
In May of 2005, Fred was called to return home to SC to be near family and friends in his hometown of Chester, where he sought to serve God and God's people in the place that he loves so much. During those six years, Fred was privileged to work with Uriel Presbyterian Church, a rural congregation of great faith and love. Also during that time, he served as a staff member of Providence Presbytery, working as the Mission Advocate, leading medical and teaching teams to Central America and raising money annually though a grassroots program called "Dimes for Hunter". There, Fred was responsible for crafting the material, supervising the volunteers and leading the annual campaign, which raised more than $5 million since its beginning for hunger alleviation.
On St. Patrick's Day 2012, Fred arrived in New Orleans to serve the First Presbyterian Church as her 16th pastor since 1817. He deeply loved serving this congregation that embraces the city and seeks to better it through member initiatives and partnerships. While in New Orleans, Fred helped First Church to revitalize after Hurricane Katrina. To celebrate this continuing process, in 2015, the Church hosted a very lively two-day Presbytery meeting (complete with an evening of Cuban Salsa dancing--thanks to a group that is nested in the Church). Fred introduced and shepherded many events that are now monthly features of the New Orleans Church and neighborhood; Young Adult Volunteer events, creative education opportunities, and participation in social justice initiatives. It was a joyful experience for Fred to network with other fledgling Churches that nested in the large building that also hosted mission groups from all over the country. The now-growing First Presbyterian Church has become a wedding church for scores of marriages; not to mention ministering to the French teachers and children in the immersion preschool that was located there.
Since returning to the Carolina's last year, Fred served Tirzah Presbyterian Church in Waxhaw, NC as their temporary supply pastor and has worked to help them as they find the mission and direction that God is preparing for them. At the same time, he has returned to work at his Alma Mater as an archivist, processing the huge French collection of documents originated by an 18th Century French priest, economist, historian and philosopher who was dealing with life before, during and after the French Revolution. This priest was a friend of Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, and Abbe Andre Morellet.
In Fred's spare time, he enjoys travelling, learning new languages and cultures, gardening, restoring old homes, historical reenactments, reading and trying his hand at new hobbies and skills while serving the God he loves.
A wonderful addition to our Community Church family, please welcome Pastor Fred Powell!