Springfield, MO— Pastor Tracey Wolff, pastor of the Historic Pitts Chapel on 600 N. Benton Ave., added Grace United Methodist Church on 600 S. Jefferson Ave. to her pastoral duties in July.
The United Methodist bishop in Missouri, Rev. Robert Farr, asked Wolff to accept the second ministerial appointment. Given the churches’ proximity to one another and Rev. Wolff’s connection with the Springfield community, it seemed like a good fit.
Wolff has been serving as Pitts Chapel’s pastor since 2021. Prior to that, she facilitated college-age ministry for The United Methodist Church in Springfield. But her ties to the area go even deeper. Wolff is a Lady Bear alumna, graduating in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree. She walked onto the Missouri State women’s basketball team in the mid-1980s as a sophomore before becoming a full scholarship student athlete by her senior year. Following graduation, she spent two years as a graduate coaching assistant for the Lady Bears before leaving for Milwaukee in 1991 to serve as Marquette University’s assistant women’s basketball coach, a post she held for 10 years.
After Marquette, Wolff worked as Director of Women’s Basketball with Athletes in Action, the sports ministry of Cru Ministries, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. Her experience working with students helped her realize a call to ministry. She pursued that dream and graduated from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis in 2017. Prior to her move back to Springfield, she served St. Andrew and North Hills United Methodist churches in north St. Louis County.
She is looking forward to engaging with new people in a city she already calls home. Wolff is Grace’s first Black pastor.
The United Methodist Church in Missouri considers Wolff’s appointment to Grace UMC as cross-racial and cross-cultural. Cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments are assignments of clergy to congregations in which most of their constituencies are different from the clergyperson’s own racial/ethnic and cultural background.
“In cross-cultural appointments, we are inevitably confronted with differences and when it happens it is usually in unexpected ways. That’s where challenges arise because they catch us off guard,” said Wolff.
Wolff’s weekly experience is unique. She is pastor to both a Historic Black congregation and a majority White congregation. The roles allow her to explore the diversity of God’s creation.
“Difference is not bad. Difference is part of God’s beautiful design,” said Wolff. “We are all made in the image of God, even in our differences!”
While Wolff is Grace UMC’s first Black pastor, the church has been led by several women. The United Methodist Church has been ordaining women since 1956. Methodists have been a part of Springfield since the 1830s. The building where Grace UMC currently worships was erected in 1923. For more information, visit www.yourgraceplace.org.