Our Minister

Rev. Dr. Jenny Shultz-Thomas
Senior Minister

Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas is a fully ordained United Church of Christ (UCC) minister with more than 15 years of dedicated service to progressive faith communities, always working at the intersection of social justice, spirituality, and community building. Her ministerial path includes serving as Senior Pastor for two large, progressive UCC congregations before coming to Countryside.

One of her notable achievements before coming to Countryside was the development of innovative programs that had a profound impact on her previous congregation’s youth and young adults. Her commitment to engaging young people and families and making the Church a relevant voice in the post-COVID era underscores her dedication to the future of our faith.

Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas holds a Doctorate of Ministry degree in Biblical Proclamation from Emory University Candler School of Theology, a renowned progressive theological institution. Her doctoral research explored the impact of the Maker Movement on congregational vitality, with a specific focus on worship and community engagement. Her belief in the transformative power of creativity and Maker Culture in Christian worship promises to invigorate our spiritual journey.

In addition to her ministry, Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas has a background in non-profit work, most recently serving as the executive director for The ArtsCenter in Carrobo, NC. This experience broadened her perspective on the intersection of artistic expression, education, and social justice, providing valuable insights into the work the Church needs to engage in to make a meaningful impact.

Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas is a lifelong learner. “I am forever a student,” said Shultz-Thomas. “I believe the sacredness of our minds requires the company of those around us to become as fully formed as we might be.”

She is passionate about encouraging others to embrace their sacred worth. Her commitment to nurturing spiritual growth is evident in her creation of the Theologian in Residence program during her time at First Plymouth, which transformed the church into a teaching congregation for seminarians.

Shultz-Thomas is dedicated to interfaith projects and initiatives. She’s worked with both the Triangle Interfaith Alliance in North Carolina and the Progressive Interfaith Clergy Network. “I am passionate about building sustainable relationships with people across the spectrum of human diversity,” she said, “and I am passionate about empowering others who would join me.”

Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas has worked extensively in social justice, anti-racism and creation justice ministries. Her advocacy for climate justice at previous posts garnered awards and recognition for environmental and sustainable activism.

Shultz-Thomas holds a deep, abiding love for the natural world. “I believe the 21st century church is called and equipped to lead the world through, what Pope Francis calls, an ecological conversion,” she said.

“I firmly believe that the church, and faith leaders, are poised to invite others to this conversation, the one that exists outside of any sector in which we have tried to house it. It exists in institutional life, yes, but it must exist in the sacred places where our coffee is brewed, our clothes are sewn, our laws are debated and passed, our children are schooled, our assets are held.”

Her former colleagues, senior pastors, and congregation members have described Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas as bold, forward-looking, strategic, compassionate, and a rising star in the UCC. Their comments reaffirm the congregation’s decision that she possesses the qualities and vision to lead our congregation into a future defined by faith, openness, inclusivity, and community impact.

As we await Rev. Dr. Jennifer Shultz-Thomas’s arrival, we invite you to join us in embracing this new chapter in the rich history of Countryside Community Church. Together, under her guidance, we will continue to grow as a congregation that radiates love, compassion, and progress.

Jenny and her wife, Shannon, are blessed with two children; daughter Quinn, 8, and son Sage, 10.