The Rev. Meredith Tobin Heffner (right) at her installation May 20 as the fifth rector of St. James' Episcopal Church, Potomac. The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde (left), bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington presided.
“I was looking for a joy — and I have truly found it at St. James Episcopal Church in Potomac,” said newly installed rector, Meredith Tobin Heffner. “I was called to be the Hand of God there and I am thrilled because I can truly feel the sense of the Holy Spirit in this church.”
Heffner’s path to joining the priesthood and becoming a rector has been non-traditional. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts from Smith College, she became a legal assistant for Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering in Washington D.C. Next, she entered the field of finance and banking — and then moved on to the National Association for Professional Saleswomen as its vice president. Her next position was as sales manager for DataPlus in D.C. However, throughout her career and while she and her husband raised their family, she served her church, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Annandale, Va. as an active volunteer.
However, after Sept. 11, 2001, she decided she needed to foster her desire to serve the church community through the ministry. She wanted to “share God’s word and love, as well as encourage life transformation through Christ.” Her experience working with both individuals and families through the church had changed her life — as well as theirs.
She enrolled in the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria and received her Master’s in Divinity in 2008. She served for close to nine years as associate rector at St. Mark's, Alexandria, Va. She has continued to train as a seminarian supervisor and as a preaching fellow at the Virginia Theological Seminary.
“My ministry objective is to lead, share, love, build and inspire,” Heffner said. “I want to lead by sharing God’s love, building a community that works together to discern and live through God’s call and inspires people of every age in their faith journeys. My passions include mission, preaching, teaching and pastoral care.”
In her new church, she hopes to help each member of her congregation learn more about who he or she is and what they are called to do and be. Her personal goal is to do her best at “being the hands of God.”
During her few moments of spare time, Heffner enjoys ancestry research, reading, boot camp athletic training and spending time with her husband, Doug, three grown children and her cat. Last fall, she trained for and completed 148 miles of the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage in Spain – The Way of St. James. She said, “I walked about 13 miles a day with three friends — it was an amazing journey and an exceptionally moving and spiritual experience. At the time, I had not yet been offered this rector position. So now, walking the Way of St. James makes it a doubly powerful experience.”