REv. Dan Commerford
Looking back, it’s not hard to see God’s wonderful love supporting and guiding me through every moment of my life. I was born and raised in Minnesota, spending the vast majority of my childhood in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis. Although I didn’t grow up Presbyterian, having faith in Christ was a central part of my family and quickly became a central component to my life as well. When I was young, I remember having a conversation with my mom about Jesus. It was a short and simple interaction that gave me the opportunity to express my initial beliefs about God and desire to grow in my faith. We were members of a large nondenominational church in my neighborhood, where I was very active in Sunday School and youth group. Some of my closest friends and mentors come from that time of learning and growing in my faith.
After graduating high school, I felt the need to explore different denominations as I continued to discover where God was leading me. I spent time with Lutheran, Assemblies of God, and Baptist churches while attending Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was at this Baptist college that I realized how presbyterian I was! I joined a Presbyterian Church in my hometown and began meeting with one of its pastors to explore my faith and sense of call. After some time, she encouraged me to continue developing my sense of call in seminary.
While attending Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA, I continued to grow in faith while learning more about the Reformed tradition. I still cherish the friendships that began with those whom God brought into my life during that time! There, I began to discern what God had in store for me. Through classwork, as well as many hours of conversations with professors, friends, peers, and my pastor, I felt a strong desire to help others grow in their faith in the same way others helped me. That desire began my journey to pursue a call to church ministry.
Since then, God has called me to two wonderful congregations. My first call was to serve as Pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church in Covington, Georgia, where I learned firsthand the daily rhythm of ministry. My second call has been to First Presbyterian Church of Tequesta, Florida, where I have served for the past five years. There, I have continued to rely on God’s grace, grow in my faith, and help others to do the same. In all those years, God has given me the privilege of walking the journey of faith in Christ with those whom I serve, celebrating incredible joys and persevering through incredible challenges along the way. God’s love has been so amazingly transformative to me, and I have a strong passion to help others discover that same love. The more I grow and learn, the more I realize how amazing God’s love is and how freely God gives it to us every day.
It’s with that sense of purpose and call that I humbly seek to become the next Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia. Over the last year, all of us have faced challenges that we never thought possible to overcome. But throughout it all, God has been faithful, just as God has always been faithful. As we move forward, I am so excited to see what God has in store for us next! We have a wonderful opportunity to proclaim the power of God’s love to each other and our community, and my prayer is that God is leading me to walk that journey with you as your next pastor.
When I am not at church, you can most often find me with my family. God has blessed me with a beautiful wife, Rachel, with whom I will celebrate ten years of marriage this summer! She is a constant source of support and counsel (with which she has also blessed the church as an ordained deacon), as well as a model of Christlike love I admire every day. God has also blessed us with a beautiful daughter, Hannah (5) and son, Micah (1 ½). Being a husband and father has taught me so much about God’s love, which has impacted the way I live out my faith and minister to others. In my free time, I love to enjoy the outdoors in any way possible, create music, grill a mean steak, and explore new places.