Passing the Torch

Nate Devlin (right) is the new pastor of Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church. Pastor Rick Wolling (center) pictured with his wife, Mary, retires this month after 33 years. /photo: John Schisler

At a time when it’s rare for a senior pastor to last five years, Rick Wolling has served Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church for 33 years. During that time, he shepherded the congregation while his wife, Mary, served the parishioners as a teacher and principal at Jubilee Christian School, led children’s ministries and directed the choir.

The couple will retire in October, but say they are leaving behind a strong congregation and stable faculty that will continue the work they started.

Rick Wolling knew in high school that he wanted to devote his life to the church and graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1985, while serving as a pastor in Oklahoma, he learned of the opening at Beverly Heights.

Wolling says the senior pastor tends to get the most criticism, but also the most credit. In the next breath, he says he owes the credit to the faculty and volunteers who have been

with Beverly Heights and will carry on the work the Wollings are leaving behind. “It’s because they’re staying that we’ll have this longevity,” he says. Associate Pastor Nate Devlin will become senior pastor.

“I’m pleased that we have had relative peace in the congregation and not everyone can say that,” says Wolling. “We have enjoyed a great collegial and familial congregation

in the church.”

“We have a profound fellowship of people at Beverly Heights,” Mary adds.

Devlin, who has worked with the Wollings at Beverly Heights since 2004, hopes to preserve the progress Wolling has made over the years, as he integrates into his role. “My task is not just to be innovative, but to honor the quality and excellence of what has been established before me,” says Devlin. “[Wolling] has been a mentor to me and I’ve learned a tremendous amount about what it means to be a pastor.”