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Couple share responsibility as co-pastors of church


The small congregation of South Carroll Church of the Nazarene has doubled its usual pastoral leadership with new co-pastors Thomas and Verna Cahill.

The couple began their new jobs the first Sunday of July. The South Carroll church is the first where the Cahills have worked as co-pastors since Mrs. Cahill was ordained two years ago.

"Co-pastoring is a more cooperative type of pastoring," Mr. Cahill said. "We talk over things and agree on how things should be done."

Mrs. Cahill said each has areas of responsibility. "He is primarily administrative and growth-oriented, and I'm involved with visitation, the church office and music for the services."

The two take turns preaching, on alternate Sundays. Mrs. Cahill, the only pianist in the congregation, plays the piano every week. Mr. Cahill also preaches Sunday evenings. On Wednesdays, he leads the teen group and she takes over with the adults.

Since starting their new pastorate, the Cahills have plunged into life at the little church. Mr. Cahill has the church board thinking about increasing the congregation to the point where a larger sanctuary would be needed.

"That's one thing that attracted us to Eldersburg," Mrs. Cahill said. "The church owns 6 acres and the church wants us to grow, and we want people to come here."

The Cahills plan to survey the community about what it wants in programs and worship for young people and adults. "We're trying to develop a family and youth program," Mr. Cahill said.

To encourage growth in the church, which is off Liberty Road just east of White Rock Road, Mr. Cahill has suggested the board consider offering two Sunday morning worship services to accommodate new members. "As we find out what the community wants, that will determine what we do in programs down the road," he said.

During his 29 years in the ministry, Mr. Cahill, 54, has started several new churches. In 1969, he began a Nazarene church in Woodsville, N.H.; later, in Philipsburg, Pa., he was pastor for a church that doubled its size, and created two more congregations.

Mr. Cahill was administrative assistant to the district superintendent in Ellicott City for 4 1/2 years before moving to a Florida church for nine months. Both Cahills missed their family and friends in Maryland, so when the South Carroll position became vacant, they applied.

While at various churches, Mr. Cahill worked in the community with handicapped adults and literacy programs, was a teacher's aide and has driven a school bus, which he is doing this fall.

It was in Philipsburg that Mrs. Cahill became an associate pastor with her husband, later earning her certification for ordination. When she was young, she had rejected the notion of becoming a minister because it simply wasn't done by women then. But she married a preacher, and after the couple's four children were grown, she accepted the call.

The Nazarene Church was founded in 1908 and has about 595,000 members in the United States and 1.3 million through the world.

That figure will grow if the Cahills have anything to do with it.

"We're praying to God for six new families and a piano player [at South Carroll]," Mr. Cahill said. "Then we have an additional responsibility to bring six more families in for an even dozen."

The church has Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Sundays. Information: 795-0979.

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