Meet Rev. Elizabeth Duffin: Joining TAC Staff this Summer

6/11/2015

As Rev. Michelle Hall heads to serve as Associate, Christ United Methodist Church Sugar Land, Rev. Elizabeth Duffin prepares to step into the role of Associate Director of the Center for Clergy Excellence.
 
Her face lights up when she talks about how the Texas Conference clergy recruitment effort changed her life and made ministry a fulfilling reality after she graduated from Duke University. Rev. Elizabeth Duffin is more than excited to “pay it forward” by encouraging other up and coming clergy to join our conference. Since she has chaired the conference Clergy Recruitment Committee for several years, this role will expand when she assumes the position of Associate Director of the Center for Clergy Excellence next month. “One of my passions is meeting young candidates and understanding what they are excited about,” she shares, “then there will always be the challenges of finding the right mix of clergy that help us meet existing needs while discerning the environment years away.” Adds Elizabeth, “Seeing college pastoral interns experience ministry firsthand is also an exciting part of this new role.”
 
Elizabeth grew up at St. Luke’s UMC, Houston and pursued an art history degree from Davidson College before serving as a US2 missionary in a domestic mission project based in Salt Lake City, Utah. “I worked directly with clients of the food pantry for part of the week and did advocacy work in between,” she adds. During this phase of her spiritual development, she attended a young adult retreat with others in the Rocky Mountain Conference where she was serving. “That was what I call my inner calling moment, and my outer calling affirmation took place at St. Luke’s.”
 
She met husband Seann while at Duke, they got married and she persuaded him to talk to the transfer committee that provided him his first appointment in Liberty, Texas, followed by her appointment to Wesley UMC Beaumont. Soon thereafter the Duffins shared a double appointment to Lakewood UMC, Houston.  Now that Seann is moving to Bellaire UMC, the parsonage will soon be their next destination – convenient also to the Texas Annual Conference offices.
 
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
“I will greatly miss preaching where I know the congregation, but will get that experience to some degree with Seann, and I will enjoy being a guest preacher on behalf of the TAC,” she says. “I will also miss getting to lay hands on the kids on Confirmation Sunday and 3rd grade Bible Sunday, and I must say it was an awesome experience to get to lead worship with Seann, work closely with him all week and be a part of what he does best.”
 
Adds Elizabeth, “One thing I am really looking forward to as Associate Director, is to get to work with clergy development and learn from Gail Ford Smith’s wisdom and experience. I will be receiving a great deal of on the job training, which will be exciting for me.”
 
She is also excited to continue partnering with Eddie Erwin, incoming Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Texas Annual Conference, who is also transferring from Lakewood UMC. “In June, we began meeting with others on staff and the committees to discuss how we can nurture, mentor and connect with students who experience a call to ministry since that might occur at camp, a retreat, at Sunday school or Texas Youth Academy among many other places. We have a very big conference and there is lots of movement with youth and personnel, so we are excited to design a system for keeping up with them through their various phases of student life.”
 
Elizabeth and Seann have a toddler named James, whose favorite story is currently that of Samuel being beckoned by God. “I’ll be the first to admit that the special urging to enter the ministry can happen early,” she says, from experience.