On Sunday April 30, Dr. Kate Gillooly transitional minister of Heights Christian Church in Shaker Heights is preaching at Church of the Redeemer. Dr. Gillooly has worked in Christian Formation and Congregational Development since 1987, serving churches in the United Methodist, American Baptist and Episcopal traditions. Kate earned her Master of Ministry from Ursuline College and her Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development from Bexley Seabury Seminary.
She became the transitional minister of HCC in June 2022, after the church sold their building to East View UCC and began renting space from Plymouth UCC.
About Dr. Kate Gillooly
Kate grew up in Cleveland Heights and was raised Unitarian. As a teenager, she fell into the Episcopal Church and met her husband, Greg. After 30 years of coordinating Christian Formation in a variety of different congregations, she sensed a broader call. When she left the staff of St. Paul’s Episcopal, she enrolled at Bexley Seabury seminary in Chicago. She was able to complete her coursework in biannual intensive sessions, and spent a year working on her thesis on stories of call to lay ministry. In 2016 she began working part time for Heights Christian Church as Director of Congregational Development, and in 2019 she earned her Doctor of Ministry degree. Kate has directed Deacon Formation and Lay Preacher College for the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, traveled the country as a trainer for Education for Ministry, offered workshops in South Africa and Ecuador, and served as adjunct faculty for Ursuline College. She has a long-held passion for lifting up lay ministry in the church and the world. Ironically, a year ago, HCC called Kate to be their transitional pastor, and she was commissioned (not ordained!) in October.
Kate and Greg enjoy being empty-nesters, and visiting their two young adult sons as time permits. Kate has a BA in Religion from Case Western Reserve University, a MA in Ministry from Ursuline College, and a Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development from Bexley Seabury. She is Practitioner member of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, and has created an online course for discernment to lay ministry.
About Heights Christian Church
Heights Christian Church was formed in 1929 to start a new congregation in Shaker Heights. It took a few years for the building on Van Aken to be completed, but by the late 1940’s they were able to start the first cooperative preschool in Shaker and the Education wing and Tower were added in the early 1950s. HCC has always had a commitment to education and ministry with children + youth, employing Ministers of Education from the beginning.
A watershed moment occurred in 1965 when some members of the church invited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to speak at the church. Other church members were very unhappy and fearful and suddenly the sanctuary was scheduled to be remodeled, preventing the gathering from taking place there. Instead, Dr. King spoke from the porch, and many more people were able to attend than would have fit inside. This event caused division and some members left. Ever since then the congregation has been diminished in number but steadfast in continuing the call to racial justice and to peace.
Over the years, our membership and financial contributions have continued to decrease. Like many small churches, we don’t raise enough revenue to be sustainable and must rely on a portion of our endowment to cover expenses.
In 2016, HCC leadership voted to hire Kate Gillooly as part time Director of Congregational Development for a period of three years. Her job was to strengthen formation within the congregation and to increase community engagement to help the congregation discover new ways of being church.
Recently the congregation recognized it needed to make a change to its budget and mission. Just before the pandemic hit, it appointed a Steering Committee to explore options, including selling the aging, oversized building. In 2021, HCC sold their building to East View UCC and began renting space from Plymouth UCC. When Rev. Roger Osgood announced his intention to retire in June of 2022, after serving as the pastor for 16 years, the congregation called Kate to be their Transitional Pastor for a 3 year term, during which the congregation will continue to discern its mission and vision. At the end of 3 years, if both parties are in agreement, the congregation may call Kate to be their settled pastor.