As a child, Beth Lefever experienced a more conservative God in the Church of the Brethren, an Anabaptist tradition.
As an adult, she experienced a more liberal God in the United Church of Christ, a Reformed tradition.
Neither tradition felt right to her.
“I needed room for a broader spirituality,” said Lefever, “one that didn’t try to fit the infinite into one box.”
Lefever found the room she needed in the Unitarian Universalist church, a liberal religious tradition with Christian roots.
Sunday, Rev. Beth Lynley Lefever begins work as the new pastor of 150-member Neshoba Unitarian Universalist Church in Cordova.
The Indiana native was ordained last October after completing her Master of Divinity degree at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.
Lefever has lived nearly all of her life in and around Elkhart, Ind., population 50,000.
“This is a big city so it’s a big change for us,” Lefever said, “but the people are warm and caring and they love to laugh and so do we.”
Lefever was elected unanimously in May. She succeeds Rev. Cynthia Prescott, who has been serving as interim pastor since 2010.
“Beth was a great fit,” said Merilynn Rowan, a member of Neshoba’s search committee. “She is intelligent and engaging. She has a great sense of humor and a way of incorporating the everyday lessons and trials of life into her sermons.”
Lefever is moving to Memphis with her husband, Evan, and their two dogs. Before Lefever applied for the Neshoba position, she’d been to Memphis once, on a civil rights tour, in March 2006.
“It’s a little hotter than I remembered,” said Lefever, who will preach her first sermon in August.