In 2008, 25-year-old seminarian Kathy Wolf Reed was the youngest person to become an elected member of the Committee on Theological Education (COTE).
Although at first uncertain about serving on a committee with seminary presidents, Wolf Reed soon discovered that committee members listened carefully to her points of view and responded to the issues she voiced.
She also found it helpful as a student who was engaged in the daily routine of seminary life to get a bird’s-eye view of theological education within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Now an ordained teaching elder serving as an associate pastor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Wolf Reed is also COTE’s chairperson. While aware of the stereotype of young adults being spiritual but not religious, she is confident about the role of young adults within the church.
“The role of the young adults is to live out our callings and be not just consumers of theological education and consumers of church, but producers of theological education and producers of church, producers of ministry,” she said during COTE’s fall meeting.
Wolf Reed’s experiences as a young adult and working in ministry with young adults and youth have shaped how she approaches the work that COTE does.
“What [young adults] are really drawn to is genuine expressions of community and genuine expressions of Christ’s service and genuine expressions of worship,” she said. Young adults do not want to be passive in the church but want, she said, a “deep spiritual connection to God and a real understanding of how Jesus Christ is at work in their life.”
What that looks like for theological education is still in development, Wolf Reed said, adding that her dream for COTE is to help seminaries be “more adaptable and dynamic to how the Spirit is moving throughout the church.” She wants to see theological education expanded to meet the needs of a changing world and be more accessible to the greater church.
Three other young adult members of COTE — Nicholas Yoda, pastor of Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati; Alan Bancroft, Presbyterian campus minister at Vanderbilt and Belmont universities in Nashville; and Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, ruling elder at First Spanish Presbyterian Church in Miami — were also present at the meeting.
Asked about her plans for COTE, Wolf Reed responded, “I think we’re going to create leaders who have a stronger understanding of their calling and that are more effective in ministry.”
Under Wolf Reed’s leadership, COTE is not only working in partnership with the Presbyterian Mission Agency to develop transformational leaders ― one of the agency’s highest priorities ― but is also empowering young adults to be those transformational leaders on the committee and in the wider church.