Laura Michelle Foley
Minister with Youth and their Families
“Laughter is carbonated holiness.”
There is something to be said for a family of four to have three ordained members. I think that something might be that we needed to get out more! Church and being in church and talking about church have always been second nature for me. Therefore the decision to attend divinity school after studying Art and Outdoor Education at Appalachian State University seemed logical. Perhaps by what some might call the mighty hand of God, or maybe the Universe’s providential persuasion, depending on your theological flavor palette, I managed to fall into and even graduate from a divinity school that felt tailor made. Wake Forest taught me the value of academia, the blessing of community, and the beauty of church. With that in mind, I could not be more thrilled to be a part of the Pullen family and to be doing justice, loving kindness, walking humbly, and surviving lock-in insomnia alongside the youth.
I joined Pullen for good in 1987. I remember walking into the church holding Audrey’s hand (she was 18 months) saying that if we didn’t like it, we didn’t have to stay. When we got to the toddler’s area Donna Steely was waiting in the rocker. The decision was made.
Because I am a musician I have floated in and out of Pullen. I have “played around” at various churches in the area while still trying to be involved. Currently I am playing on Sunday evenings at Fairmont United Methodist. I have served as interim organist at Pullen and as a substitute before being hired in 2009. But music is not all I do. I work full-time at the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education as the Finance Manager. I have worked at Poe since 2005.
I have two children, Audrey and David, who are pretty much grown, and Oliver (the bird).
I was born in Chapel Hill, NC, but grew up in Fuquay-Varina where I graduated from high school. I have four children–two sons and two daughters—and I am a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Past work experiences include being a manager in a large commercial maintenance company, but I really enjoy working at Pullen where I am able to get to know the people I serve.
Nancy E. Petty
If we want to have all our bases covered before we act, nothing exciting will happen. But if we dare to take a few crazy risks, because God asks us to do so, many doors, which we didn’t even know existed, will be open to us.
I often think about this quote when I am asked to reflect on my life journey, especially my journey with Pullen Church. While the risks I have taken in life have not always been intentional, I have been fortunate that most of them have opened exciting doors for me.
When I arrived at Pullen in 1992 I was 28 years old—a young minister ready to change the church. Over time, I learned that that process would work the other way—Pullen church would change me. While my time as a youth minister, first at Greystone Baptist Church in Raleigh (1985-88) and then at St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte (1989-92), had somewhat prepared me for the challenges of ministry, nothing could have really prepared me for the exciting and meaningful journey I have had with the folks of Pullen church.
I started my ministry at Pullen as Minister of Christian Education, which gave me the opportunity to engage my love of learning and supporting others as they nurtured their spiritual life. My seminary training at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary prepared me well for this endeavor. As the needs of Pullen began to change in the mid-1990s the church decided to change my job title and responsibilities. I became the Associate Pastor with increased responsibilities in the areas of pastoral care and organizational/institutional support. Realizing that I could benefit from continuing education as I moved deeper into my new role, I began the Doctorate of Ministry program through McCormick Theological Seminary—a parish-based doctorate program. The work I did through that program opened new doors for my ministry. It was during that time that I realized that parish ministry was truly my calling and what gave my life meaning and purpose.
Now, after nineteen years and yet another change in my job title and responsibilities, I continue my journey with you as your senior pastor. I do so with excitement and hope that the risks we continue to take together will further God’s love and grace in the world.
Larry E. Schultz
Minister of Music
In 1992, while sitting in my office at the church I served following seminary, I read an article about Pullen in my copy of Baptists Today – and I vividly remember thinking out loud: “I’d like to be a part of such a brave and autonomous congregation someday.” Nine years later I had the privilege of becoming Pullen’s Minister of Music!
Since 2001 I have enjoyed the opportunity of equipping Pullen for an expansive music ministry that seeks to engage all persons in the church’s worship and congregational life. It is fulfilling to discover ways in which Pullen’s distinctive identity can be explored and expressed through congregational, choral and instrumental music.
I developed an interest in music ministry at an early age, and was nurtured in that interest by the Baptist churches of my childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After the happy surprise of winning the high school division of a choral anthem contest sponsored by Oklahoma Baptists, I decided to study music theory and composition for use in my ministry. I graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1986 from the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts at Oklahoma Baptist University.
In continued preparation for music ministry, I moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where on the first day I met Cindy Smith. Three years later, in 1989, we walked the aisle of the seminary chapel for two joyful occasions: to receive our Master of Church Music degrees and to marry!
After our time in Kentucky, Cindy and I served together in music ministry in South Carolina where our children, Ryan and Kelly, were born. The timing of our move to North Carolina provided us the meaningful opportunity to raise them from early childhood among the people of Pullen.
The new art installation that will soon adorn the Pullen sanctuary exclaims our congregation as “ever-embracing” and “ever-becoming.” I have found these significant descriptions to certainly be true and find in them inspiration for my ongoing ministry in this place.
Who would’ve known in 1992 that my spontaneous, wishful prayer would come to be!
I join Pullen as the Communications Specialist to share news with the congregation through the website, Sunday updates, monthly newsletters, Monday emails, sermon podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I also help the broader Raleigh community (and the world) know Pullen and how our faith informs our mission to be a worshiping, learning, caring, serving and welcoming community. Formerly, I was VP of Social Media at a Raleigh advertising agency and then Social Media Manager at Lulu.com, the self-publishing house on Hillsborough. I freelance for mission-driven organizations, offer prison meditation retreats, do aerial silks acrobatics, walk nature trails, travel and dance. It’s a joy to have my work match my vision for a meaningful life. Thanks for inviting me into the Pullen family!
Minister with Children and their Families
Being in full-time church ministry is my third career. For nearly ten years, serving as staff to Pullen’s outreach ministries and adult education was my ideal job. My current role as Associate Pastor allows me to be involved in a wide range of ministries that I find both challenging and fulfilling.
In high school, I felt called to be a teacher and coach, so I earned two degrees in physical education, one from UNC-Greensboro and one from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Following that path, I came to Raleigh in 1978 to serve as assistant women’s volleyball coach at N.C. State. I enjoyed the work, but exposure to poverty while on a church work team in rural Appalachia sent me down another path.
After pursuing a law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, I began my second career as a legal aid lawyer in downtown Raleigh in 1986, providing civil legal assistance to low income residents. I understood my flavor of lawyering to be ministry and stayed with it for eleven years. During that time, I was a student as my clients taught me what it’s like to be poor in our community. I also became a member of Pullen Church during this period because of its commitment to social justice and its willingness to wrestle with hard issues.
As the years passed, I felt increasingly drawn to full-time ministry where I could be explicit about the connection between my concern for the poor and my faith. So at the age of 44, my career path took another turn that led me to Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. I relished my seminary experience as I studied in a diverse environment, worked in an inner-city church, and experienced the nation’s capital in all its shame and glory.
I returned to Raleigh and Pullen after graduation from Wesley, and was hired by the church in 2001. Since then, I have loved being a part of this wonderful faith community and our gifted staff. Because Pullen people are deeply committed to worship, learning, and ministry beyond our walls, the job keeps me very busy. But I am inspired daily by the faithfulness of our staff and congregation as we try to join our efforts with what God is doing to bring justice and peace to our world.
I share my life with Felicia and our two cats, Brie the Magnificent and Annie the Bold. In my spare time, I like to garden, read, and return to the South Carolina beaches where my childhood heart is at home.