The Rev. Victoria J. Starnes assumed her new position as senior pastor of the Epworth United Methodist Church April 1. Starnes replaced the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Baker.
Starnes received her bachelor’s degree in 1978 from West Virginia Wesleyan College, and a master of divinity degree in 1990 from Wesley Theological Seminary.
Starnes is married to John Ewald, superintendent of the Laurel Delaware School District. Her father, the Rev. Thomas Starnes, is currently pastor of Hickory Hill United Methodist in Millsboro. Her father-in-law, the Rev. John (Jack) Ewald (deceased), was also a pastor.
Starnes began her ministry as a student pastor in 1986 at Boring United Methodist Church, a small church in Baltimore County, Md. In 1990, Starnes was named lead pastor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. She led the congregation through significant growth, including establishment and implementation of a building program for a new sanctuary and educational facility; the addition of full and part time staff including a deacon in Christian education, an administrator, a youth director and a musician; and the implementation of a program of contemporary worship.
In 2004, Starnes was assigned as lead pastor of New Hope United Methodist Church in Brunswick, Md. She was responsible for merging two churches into a single congregation. Starnes was also instrumental in leading the church through a capital campaign to raise funds for the new facility.
In 2010, Starnes joined the Baltimore Washington Conference, where she was responsible for supervising 33 pastors and churches in the Annapolis Southern Region.
Starnes preached at all three April 7 services. She said, “This feels like a family reunion, and I am glad to be a part of the family called Epworth.” April 1 marked the fifth anniversary of Epworth occupying its new church on Holland Glade Road. Starnes told the congregation she was at the old church on Baltimore Avenue to watch the oldest church member close the door for the final time, and the opening of the new church on Holland Glade Road.
In a formal ceremony at each of the April 7 services, members of the congregation presented Starnes with symbols representative of her ministry: The Membership Directory; a Bible, cross and praying hands; a stole, hymnal and the Book of Worship; a globe; a statement of the church’s core values; the church’s strategic plan and The Book of Discipline; a chalice and paten; and finally a bowl and towel, as a sign of Epworth’s servant ministry.
Rev Starnes said she was very happy to become a part of a Reconciling Ministries Network church, which includes members of all sexual orientations and sexual identities as an expression of Christ’s inclusive love.
Starnes said her priorities over the next few months would be to get to know and become more involved with the congregants and staff, as well as all of the church’s ministries and Pathway Committees. Epworth is at 19285 Holland Glade Road, Rehoboth Beach.