Pastor Katherine Thomas Paisley was born in Chicago at Wesleyan Memorial Hospital, baptized in the Upper Room Chapel in Nashville by her grandfathers, both of whom were on staff at the Board of Evangelism for the Methodist Church and grew up in a series of Methodist parsonages across Northern Illinois. When her father was appointed to First UMC in Dixon, she and Randy met on the first Sunday, but didn’t begin to fall in love until they worked together with the Dixon youth on a lock-in, and then with youth at Rock Falls UMC where Katherine also led the children’s choir.
They married after Katherine’s college sophomore year and she finished at Rockford College while Randy taught math in Belvidere. Two moves later they were back in Dixon with two little girls, Meg and Carol. Randy was working as the Program Director at the YMCA and Katherine was soon working at the Dixon Presbyterian Church. Loving the church and loving her family were constants through her life, but she resisted a call to pastoral ministry until the pastor at the Presbyterian Church persuaded her to preach. She was the Director of Christian Education at the time and argued that preaching wasn’t in her job description! He said that having a Methodist preach on Pentecost Sunday was the closest a Presbyterian Church could come to a revival! Her first sermon, “People in Need of a Pentecost,” convinced her that seminary was the next step. Randy and Katherine packed up and headed to Nashville, TN so that Katherine could begin seminary at Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Randy continued to teach school, a combination of math and P.E., and coach a wide variety of sports after the move. It wasn’t long until he was tapped to teach tennis at several country clubs. Katherine served as Pastor of Evangelism part-time at Dalewood UMC while attending seminary, then at Inglewood UMC and did an internship at the General Board of Discipleship in the Worship Section, and then stayed on as staff while finishing her M.Div. Her first appointment after seminary was to a two-point charge west of Nashville, and one of them had an outhouse out front! It was culture shock all around. Two years later, the family moved to Clarksville, TN to another two-point charge but in a military community. Both churches more than doubled, one tripled in size after 7 years – and the Paisleys added Donny to their family. Katherine developed a model of volunteer-led youth ministry that became a workshop for small churches, and developed the plan for a new congregation that would be intentionally diverse. (One of the two churches she served became the most diverse congregation in the conference during those seven years.) Katherine did the coursework for her PhD while serving full time in Clarksville, and the first three exams, but took a break after Donny was born. During her break from parish ministry she played with Donny, did the research for her dissertation, finished the last two exams, and built a lot of train layouts. When Donny was four Katherine returned to parish ministry, serving a four-point charge with a part-time associate and teaching one course each semester at Vanderbilt with her supervisor. When Donny went to kindergarten they moved to Nashville as she was appointed to a single point charge and she wrote her dissertation on Jonathan Edwards and the Metanarrative of Redemption (It’s on heaven and Edwards’ imagery). After one more appointment in Tennessee they returned to Illinois, this time without the girls. Meg, the oldest, stayed in Athens, TN with her daughter Paisley who was five. Carol was already married and living in Evanston while she attended Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary (with Rob Hamilton as a classmate) and their daughter Katie.
Randy, Katherine and Donny moved to Freeport in 2008 to serve Freeport UMC for four years – wonderful ones for Katherine and Donny, but Randy left public teaching during that time and took a job at Midtown Athletic Club. That pulled them into the appointment at Irving Park UMC for five years and then to Oak Park First UMC for four after he had moved to Willowbrook at the Tennis Director. Donny has now moved to Ann Arbor, MI – and Randy and Katherine are moving to Rochelle for Katherine to serve Rochelle UMC.
This long and winding journey has taken them places they never would have imagined. Katherine believes that each step of the journey teaches us and challenges us, and we meet people who inspire us! God is in the journey -- and with us along the way!
Their children are grown now, and the girls have families of their own. Meg is the proud mother of Paisley Wade (16) and Elijah Johnson (6). Carol and Adrian Hill are the proud parents of Katie (Katherine – age 14), and Rae and Deuce (Adrian Jr) – age 9. Adventures with family are some of the most joyful times we have. Randy’s parents still live in Dixon, where he grew up. Katherine’s parents now live at Cherryvale Place in Rockford.
Katherine still loves preaching and Bible study, and exploring where God is at work already reaching out to folks. And the journey continues!
Our Leadership Council:
Linda Cater (UMW President), Betsy Smith (Lay Delegate), Bill Paulin (Finance), Joyce Manning (Staff Parish Relations), Scott Swartz (Chairperson), Pat Casey (Discipleship), Morgan Yordy (Youth/Young Adult), Merrill Mosbarger (Building & Grounds)
Not Pictured - Rev. Dr. Katherine Thomas Paisley, Mary Ellen Taylor (Lay Leader), Bill Vanstone (Lay Delegate)