A Philadelphia native and Texas transplant has taken the helm at Palestine's First Presbyterian Church.
The Rev. Woody Meredith has been serving as the pastor since January. He's lived in Texas for the past 14 years.
“I enjoy Texas very much and have no desire to be any place else. I enjoy small towns. I really enjoy that atmosphere — people know you, care about you, help you when you need it, like one big family,” Meredith said during an interview with the Herald-Press.
Meredith was born and raised in Philadelphia, attending college at Presbyterian-affiliated Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn. He later attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
“I served as a pastor for 20 years, then went into higher education administration, doing that until 2008,” Meredith said. “I've been going church to church as needed since then.”
He served at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University as the vice president for advancement. He also served as vice president for development at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and director of planned giving and church relations at his alma mater, Tusculum College.
Before coming to Palestine, Meredith served at First Presbyterian Church in Cleburne and First Presbyterian Church in Athens. He and his wife, Donna Foster Meredith, moved to Athens last June.
“My wife has Palestine roots — she's related to the Fosters in Palestine,” Meredith said. “It's good to have family in the area.”
Meredith's calling came early in life.
“I always knew I was going into ministry from a very young age,” Woody said.
But before entering the seminary, most of his work skills he gained from summer jobs and after-school jobs were all physical labor.
“That's all I had before I went into the seminary,” Meredith said. “That background keeps me going. I appreciate that now very much because I'm able to relate to all people. It was very beneficial.”