Rev. Dr. Nathaniel D. PhillipsSenior Pastor | Head of Staff
Pastor Nate serves as the fifth Senior Pastor/Head of Staff at Kirk in the Hills and is the primary preaching pastor and worship leader at the Kirk. He also offers leadership and vision to the church session, trustees, personnel committee, strategy team, and worship committee. He meets weekly with the church staff in large group and one-on-one settings for connection and coaching. Pastor Nate also leads a daily huddle with all of the Kirk staff; the huddle includes scripture, prayer, and connective planning.
Nate grew up in the hills of central Maine, the son of a logger and wedding dress seamstress. He was shaped by the church through Mission at the Eastward (MATE)—a nine church cooperative parish in rural Maine. Though each of the churches is very small, he enjoyed the fruits of their cooperation at the summer camp, partnership with churches in South Africa, housing ministries, and youth group.
After receiving his B.A. degree from the University of Maine at Farmington, he received his M. Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Nate was ordained and called to serve Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church in 2006. As Co-Pastor, Nate led at Red Clay by preaching, worship design, small group facilitation, pastoral care, and staff leadership.
Nate received his D. Min. from Columbia Theological Seminary where his focus was Gospel and Culture. He was the recipient of the John Nelson Award for the best Columbia Seminary Doctor of Ministry thesis project: The Bible and the Missional Church, focusing on scripture in aiding the transformation of a congregation into a missional church.
Previous ecclesial leadership includes serving as the chair of the Committee on Ministry for New Castle Presbytery, but he is especially proud of establishing the F.I.R.S.T. (Freeing the Imagination of the Recently Seminary Trained) Initiative for the Presbytery. F.I.R.S.T. offers a mechanism for churches to connect young ministers with church plants and emerging ministries in and around New Castle Presbytery.
Nate has published a book called Do Something Else (Wipf and Stock – Cascade Books). It profiles some of the most hopeful innovations in the mainline church. He has also served as Presbyterian consultant to Ian Markham, Virginia Theological Seminary President, as he worked on a new textbook for practical church ministry.
Nate and his wife, Ari, have four children, Grace (14), Lily (10), Max (5), and baby Lucy. He enjoys the Boston Red Sox, mountain biking, jogging, volleyball, Wendell Berry, and growing email@example.comFollow Nate on Twitter
Rev. Fernando RodríguezPastor for Missional Renewal
Fernando Rodríguez began his work at the Kirk in June 2017. He received his Masters of Divinity in 2008 from Princeton Theological Seminary. Most recently, he served as Innovator for Emergent Ministries at New Castle Presbytery in Middletown, DE. He and his wife, Kecelyn, have two young children.
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Rev. Angela Ryo Pastor for Christian Formation
Angela began her work at the Kirk in July 2017 with experience as a teacher at many levels, successful developer of small groups, and rich experience in working with children. She received her Masters of Divinity in 2013 from McCormick Theological Seminary, and a Masters in Teaching in 2006 from National Louis University. Most recently, she was the Lilly Resident Minister at First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She and her husband, David, have two children.
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Rev. Jasmine Smart Pastor for Community and Care
As our current Pastor for Community and Care, Jasmine began her work at the Kirk part-time as the Director of Adult Christian Education in August 2016. In April 2017, we celebrated together as she was ordained to begin pastoral ministry. She especially enjoys worship leadership, Christian education, and congregational care, and she serves as pastoral support for Kirk Women. Originally from the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, Jasmine first moved to Michigan to receive her BA at Calvin College in Interdisciplinary studies (Philosophy, English, and Church, Society & Ministry). There she met her husband, Jonathan, who is from the Detroit-metro area. After graduating from Calvin, Jasmine went straight to Princeton Theological Seminary and earned her MDiv. During that time, she served churches and the community in youth ministry, prison and psychiatric hospital chaplaincy. In May 2017, she completed Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital where she was a chaplain at the Oakland/Pontiac location. Jasmine and Jonathan moved back to Michigan in 2015 where Jonathan could pursue a job in his field, Market Research. They are happily settling down in their first home and keeping busy with their dog, Sandy.