Laughter and joy are two of the things that drew Holly Paul to the United Methodist Church (UMC). In that denomination, she found a spirit like her own. An emergency critical care veterinary nurse, she went from originally saying she’d be happy to just sit in a pew during services to being put on the path to ministry. As a Licensed Local Pastor, she is studying towards ordination. In July, Paul became the new pastor of Millbrook UMC (Randolph) and Port Morris UMC (Landing). Paul, a champion skeet shooter, resides with her two dogs, a cat, and many fishes in Landing.
Paul grew up in a family which had gotten away from religion, only attending church on high holy days. She sometimes wondered if an explosion would come down from heaven if she took communion. Yet she was always interested in religion; and going out on her own to attend college, Paul felt a drive that God had some plan for her. She started looking at different denominations. However, it was in attending a wedding that she would get on the path to finding her place.
The wedding was to be on a beach, but the weather didn’t cooperate, and Paul found herself part of a roving caravan trying to find a location to have the wedding. During that experience, she and the officiant, a UMC pastor, talked and connected. Also, Paul discovered he was the father of a co-worker. Back at work, Paul asked that co-worker questions about the UMC and he invited her to church.
That invitation changed Paul’s life. One thing her co-worker had forgotten to tell her was that communion would be held that Sunday. It was an open communion, and after taking it, Paul joked to her co-worker that she guessed she was ok, no explosion came down from heaven. Her friend told his father what Paul said. She was sure she’d be in trouble, but instead, the pastor joked with her. “This was the place for me,” she said.
At first, she said she’d just be sitting in the pew, nothing more. However, Paul noted that she always seems to “jump into [everything] with both feet”. She volunteered to work with the homeless ministry and then became a church trustee. However, she felt there was still something more she needed to do. What that was became evident after she returned from a mission trip to help repair the badly damaged home of a New Jersey woman.
Her pastor told Paul that the church would be having a service focused on mission work and he wanted her to do the sermon. When she first came to the church, Paul had told him that she’d be happy to do anything for the church, but speak. Now, he had asked her to do just that. The next two weeks were “the best and worst of my life,” shared Paul in describing preparing to do her first sermon. When the Sunday came for that sermon, the church fell quiet as Paul delivered her message. She took that silence to mean she’d fallen flat. However, that wasn’t the case. “You got them thinking,” explained her pastor of the silence. That was confirmed by the members of the congregation who said the same thing.
After that, the pastor asked to meet with her and from there she was on the road to candidacy for the ministry. As part of that road, she became a Local Licensed Pastor. She has served at Montana UMC, Phillipsburg and at Centenary UMC, Lambertsville and Linvale UMC, Ringoes. She is studying at Drew University towards her ordination.
Paul says she cherishes the connection she can make with people in talking about faith. “I like to show people the many facets of God. God understands who we are and where we are,” she said.
An animal lover, Paul has two dogs, Glitch and Gruff, Albert the cat, three koi fish (Mellow Yellow, Ying, and Yang) plus fantail and comet fish (a type of goldfish).
In addition, Paul is a champion skeet shooter. Since 1999, she has been in the top twenty in the National Lady Ranking; since 2000, she has been a member of the Zone II Ladies Team. She had held the New Jersey Lady High overall title until 2006. Since 1996, Paul has been a member of the New Jersey State Team and since 1997 she has been an 11-time member of the All-American Team.