A warm welcome to Pastor McIver “Mac” Mullins
In March, the congregation voted to call McIver “Mac” Mullins to a two-year placement as part of the Pastoral Residency Program. Born and raised in North Carolina, Mac is currently at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. He begins his call in August 2023.
▶ Tell us about your family/where you grew up/ went to college
I was born and raised in North Carolina. I’m an only child. My mom and stepdad live in Concord, North Carolina with my grandmom.
I was very musical growing up. Band and choir were a big part of my life. I was the drum major of the marching band and first chair clarinet player. I’ve sung in many choirs throughout my life.
I’m a huge baseball fan. Growing up in Raleigh, NC, the Durham Bulls were our baseball team, but from second grade onward, it was the Chicago Cubs for me. Attending college in Chicago was exciting because I lived right down the street from Wrigley Field. I was in Chicago when the Cubs won the World Series!
For college, I went to DePaul University in Chicago. I wanted to go somewhere other than the area I grew up in. I wanted a different perspective and environment. It was like Goldilocks and the Three Bears when I was selecting where I would go. New York felt a little too big, Los Angeles was a little too spread out, but Chicago was just right.
I attended DePaul to study biology but I eventually decided calculus was not for me. That’s when I began my religious studies. My focus was less on theology and more on the study of religion. We studied Judaism, Daoism, Buddhism, and everything in between.
I grew up Episcopalian but in college I read The Book of Concord, which is part of the Lutheran tradition, and that was it for me.
▶ What makes you, you?
I am joyful. I like to laugh a lot. I like to make jokes. Sometimes they land, and sometimes they don’t, but I like a good laugh. And yet, I also like quiet. I’m very outgoing and people don’t often believe me when I tell them I’m an introvert at the end of the day.
I once attended a four-night silent retreat in Boston. I thought it would be incredibly hard but I loved it. You have no one to talk to but God for four nights. You get your tea and you start praying to God. I appreciate that reverent quiet.
▶ Why did you want to become a pastor?
The thought of becoming a pastor came out of a conversation with my pastor. After graduating from college and moving back home, I began attending St. James in Concord. I was working in higher education and thought about doing a doctorate in Theology. That’s my bread and butter. I’d grown quite close with the pastor at St. James. He asked if I’d ever thought of going to seminary. He said he saw in me a lot of the gifts that are looked for in a pastor and he planted the idea of going into seminary.
▶ What intrigues you about St. Paul?
What doesn’t intrigue me about St. Paul? What excites me is that because of its size and resources, St. Paul has a significant impact in the community in which it lives. It works to support many causes and the congregation makes it possible so St. Paul doesn’t have to choose one mission over another. St. Paul supports the neighborhood school AND the music program. Mental health AND earth care.
It’s a very member-driven, not just staff-driven, church, relying on the whole body of the church. St. Paul has heard the call of the spirit and is working to live that out. From what I’ve seen, St. Paul focuses on building community together so they can be God’s church in the world. I feel incredibly blessed that both St. Paul and the spirit are calling me to have the privilege of coming to the Quad Cities.
Another thing that draws me is that because of the residency program, I know I’m going to be a very different person two years from now. I know I’m going to be blown away. The mission of God is happening at St. Paul and I’m excited to get there. There’s energy and excitement. St. Paul seems excited to do God’s mission. That’s the best way to put it. I want to be a part of that excitement; to participate in it and be shaped by it.
▶ What are you passionate about?
One passion that is very clear to me is teaching. Teaching theology, especially. To steal a quote from my call committee: “As soon as Mac learns something new, he has to share it with somebody.” I’m also passionate about spiritual formation. It’s not something I’ve nailed down at all. My big question is what does spiritual formation look like for Lutherans in the 21st century? We’re a reforming church so God is always calling us to something new.
I have a problem and it’s owning too many books. I’m intentionally trying to read more contemporary fiction. I really enjoy the author Becky Chambers. Her books are science fiction based but unlike a lot of sci-fi books, they’re all optimistic. I like books that ask good questions.
FUN FACT: Mac is currently a student at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with fellow student and St. Paul member Christine Vincent Taylor! Christine even encouraged Mac to apply to the residency program.
Pastoral Residency Program
St. Paul is privileged to be the only Lutheran church in the country currently hosting a Pastoral Residency Program. The church’s first pastoral residents arrived in 2006. The program previously brought two residents to St. Paul every other year. In the past few years, that schedule has changed to one new resident coming into the program each year. Pastor Megan Eide arrived in 2021 with Pastor Max Franks following behind in the fall of 2022.
As St. Paul awaits the arrival of Pastor Mac, Pastor Megan reflects on the ways the residency program has provided growth opportunities during her time here.
“Through the residency program, I’ve experienced and grown in all sorts of areas of ministry without needing to carry the weight of it all on my shoulders,” Pastor Megan reflected. “It’s one of those ‘best of both worlds’ scenarios made possible by the grace and generosity of St. Paul people.”
As Pastor Max looks forward to his second year of the residency program, he’s already seeing the way the program is forming his skills as a pastor.
“The benefit of this program is its many mentors from whom to learn and receive feedback while providing numerous learning opportunities,” Pastor Max said. “The residency helps sharpen our skills and develop a well-roundedness in various ministry tasks and responsibilities, be it preaching, teaching, pastoral care, writing, or any other ministerial activities. Expedited growth sums up this program in a nutshell, and that’s a tremendous gift.”