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Dr. Richard W. McCarty

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Dr. Richard W. McCarty

Senior Pastor

Raised in Iowa and from a Catholic family, Rich McCarty has been ordained since 2001 after graduating from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Rich has served congregations in Michigan, Iowa, and Pennsylvania in various capacities. He also chaired the Holy Relationships group from 2003-2009, planning national, regional and local conferences on theology, diversity, and ethics, with a focus on LGBTQ+ inclusion. Through Holy Relationships, Rich had the opportunity to work with a leadership team from around the country, hosting events from the East Coast to the Midwest. 

In 2009, Rich accepted the call to serve Community United Church, then as a volunteer assistant pastor. For six years, Rich offered the Open and Affirming scripture and theology courses at the church, while also assisting the senior pastor for Sunday morning worship. During that time, Rich was a co-founder of the Greater Erie Alliance for Equality and also frequently served as a guest speaker for the Unitarian Universalist Church in Girard, Pennsylvania—where he still maintains good relationships to this day.

In 2014, Rich was called to serve as the senior pastor of Community United Church. Over the next several years, Rich and the new staff at Community United Church would oversee a renovation of the church facilities, as well as to launch some of the church’s (now) beloved programs, including our midweek Resonate services, the annual Holiday Cheer community outreach project, Spirits & Spirituality (a pub theology experience), a quarterly study group on popular culture issues of Christian theology and paranormal subjects, as well as an annual Interfaith Service for Peace and Justice with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders. 

When it comes to ministry, Rich believes the way of Christ is multifaceted: in worship, devotion, study, service, and above all, seeking the path of unconditional love. In his preaching, Rich blends a method of teaching the contexts and depths of scripture with thematic lessons. As clergy within the United Church of Christ, Rich enjoys bringing the best of his Catholic heritage in conversation with the Reformation motto of being “ever reforming.” His hope for Community United Church is that it will continue to experience growth spiritually—and in membership—so that no one in Erie will ever have to question if God loves them, or if Christ is for them. The unconditional love of God—as demonstrated by Christ and revealed by the Holy Spirit—is the bedrock and heart of Rich’s faith. It is this faith that motivates Rich when all else falls or fades. And it is this faith that will continue to fuel Rich’s ministry, whether in preaching, teaching, serving, or standing for social justice.

Rich also holds a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and has served as a full-time faculty member at Mercyhurst University since 2008, where he is a tenured Professor of Religious Studies. He is an author through the State University of New York Press, with books on Christian theology and sexual ethics. Outside of his clergy and academic vocations, Rich is married and enjoys spending time with family and friends, taking opportunities to travel as much as possible.

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