The Reverend Nancy J. Benson-Nicol is a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Prior to her March 27, 2022, call to Fourth Church, Nancy served as director of philanthropic engagement for Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She has served the national agencies in her former ministries on behalf of Presbyterian seminaries as associate director, Theological Education Funds Development (Presbyterian Foundation), and on behalf of the marginalized as associate for Gender and Racial Justice (Presbyterian Mission Agency).
She is the author of the 2012–2013 Horizons Bible Study Dispatches to God’s Household: The General Epistles. From 2006 to 2013, she served as university chaplain of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. Prior to that, Nancy served as Associate Pastor of First United Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and as a Lilly Resident in Parish Ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Nancy’s substantial leadership in the areas of pastoral care and spiritual formation for and among diverse groups include her experiences as a Stephen Ministry Leader and coordinator of the Deacons ministry as an associate pastor; as a frequent workshop presenter and worship leader among congregations, mid councils, and for national events; and as a spiritual discernment facilitator for Austin Parable, a L’Arche USA–affiliated group dedicated to modeling intentional covenant community among individuals with and without intellectual disabilities.
A native of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Nancy holds a bachelor of arts degree with honors from Swarthmore College in sociology, anthropology, and religion. She holds a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. While at Harvard, Nancy served as seminarian in The Memorial Church, Harvard University, under the direction of the late Peter J. Gomes.
Nancy’s editorial and liturgical submissions have been published in a variety of Presbyterian venues. She contributed to the domestic and international social policy initiatives of the denomination through her three-year term (1996–1999) on the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy. In its July 2004 cover story, the publication Presbyterians Today featured Nancy in “40 Under 40: Ones to Watch” as a “rising star” in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
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“My happy response to the call of the Holy Spirit to serve the saints of Fourth Presbyterian Church is informed by my demonstrated commitment to three prominent areas of ministry: drawing awareness to the presence of God; cultivating and celebrating the inward presence of God’s grace in individuals and among groups; and facilitating the outward expressions of discipleship, rooted in the context of community, for the care and nurture of souls.
“From contemplating God’s promises to Abraham with a horde of teens sprawled on a tennis court under a starry sky while leading vespers, to sitting in quiet prayer at the bedside of an elderly matriarch at the end of life, to equipping ministry teams for services spanning disaster relief to visits to the homebound, to leading the planning, preparation, and delivery of national conferences on behalf of the connectional church, I am profoundly grateful for the breadth and depth of my experiences in ministry that equip me ‘for such a time as this’ to serve as Associate Pastor for Caring Ministries and Spiritual Formation.
“I am moved by the unique witness of the body of Christ at Fourth Church, where ordinary and extraordinary aspects of the bustling city of Chicago—past, present, and future—inspire God’s people to join hands and hearts in service
to God’s realm.”
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