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Long journey leads pastor to Collinsville

In late June 2017, Carol Gullatt moved to Collinsville to begin her job as pastor for the First United Methodist Church. This would be her second appointment to a church and her first full-time position as a pastor.

The Huntsville native began taking seminary classes in 2011 while teaching in Huntsville City Schools. “It is kind of a return to the path I was already on,” Gullatt said.

Gullatt said she always felt the call to ministry. “As a young person I had a desire to do ministry and be in ministry.”

However, she added, “I had a job in youth ministry right after college. I had a really difficult time and burned out really quickly, so I went back to school to become a teacher.”

Within the United Methodist church there are many steps in order to become a pastor. Years of seminary education, letters from church members, and background checks are just a few of them. In 2015, Gullatt made herself available to be a local pastor in Huntsville.

In 2017, she became a provisional elder and was put into the pool of people eligible to be sent out to district churches. It was then that she was sent to serve in Collinsville.

Transitioning from teaching to ministry was a difficult time, especially considering financial obligations. “I was afraid of not being able to provide for myself,” said Gullatt. “That has been a challenge,” she said, “but also a gift because I am so much happier.”

Before being appointed to Collinsville, Gullatt called Huntsville home for most of her life. Moving was difficult, but Gullatt quickly grew to love Collinsville.

“When I was assigned, I said I wanted to stay where I was place at least four years. After getting to know the people of Collinsville, I said I wanted to stay 20 years,” Gullatt said with a laugh.

Although many protestant denominations have female pastors, the group is still fairly small in the South. Gullatt admitted being a female pastor in the South can be a challenge.

One of the first churches she served at did not want a woman pastor. “For a year I served that church knowing that they were not open to my leadership.”That was not a problem in Collinsville.  “I was welcomed with open arms by the church I serve. They were prepared to receive me as their pastor,” Gullatt said.

Gullatt was ordained this year, completing an eight-year journey, and she began her third year serving Collinsville at the end of June.