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The Rev. Douglas Hood was the top choice to take over
at First Presbyterian Church. Photo provided



By  Tim Pallesen

The Rev. Douglas Hood knew he wanted to be First Presbyterian’s new senior pastor when he read the help-wanted request.
The congregation near the ocean in Delray Beach said it was searching for someone who could lead them to be more like Christ in the community.
“My greatest passion is coming alongside people and nurturing their personal spiritual formation in the character of Christ,” Hood said.
First Presbyterian selected Hood on May 5 to replace the Rev. Theodore Bush, who retired last year after 27 years in the pulpit. Hood begins June 15.
“There was a match between what they wanted and what I wanted to pursue,” Hood said. “That’s why I got excited.”
Hood, 52, has served a Presbyterian church in New Britain, Pa., the past 12 years. He previously served congregations in Bartow, Fla., and Irving, Texas.
He graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg in 1982, and received his divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., in 1987.
He focused his studies on spiritual formation and discipleship at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., where he earned his doctorate in ministry last year.
Then he turned down two job offers in California and Florida in hopes that he would be chosen from more than 150 applicants for the Delray Beach ministry.
Bush retired in January 2011. Hood’s application to replace him was one of the first that the Pastor Nominating Committee at First Presbyterian received when it began its search in June 2011.
“From that time until late December when we narrowed our selections to three, he always led the pack,” committee co-chair Rob Tanner told the congregation on May 5. “We listened to dozens of sermons of various candidates. Dr. Hood always stood out as the best of what we heard over months of evaluation.”
Tanner said the committee also was impressed with Hood’s administrative leadership skills and the fundraising campaign that he led to raise $1.2 million to renovate his church in Pennsylvania. His wife, Grace, whom he met in a seminary Hebrew class, is a missionary’s daughter who became a missionary herself in Brazil and the Congo.
But the new pastor’s ability to teach members of First Presbyterian how to become better Christian disciples proved to be most important in his selection.
“He understands the needs of vision and driving the church with purpose,” Tanner said.
Hood’s doctoral dissertation, titled Faith Journey: A Strategy for Nurturing Discipleship, is now the curriculum at three churches near Philadelphia.
In it, he outlines five practices to become a true follower of Christ: worship regularly, pray daily, apply God’s word to your life, be involved in an active ministry and give financially.
Bush and his wife took Hood and his wife for a tour of Delray Beach before the May 5 vote.
“The congregation was looking for something and I think they found what they were looking for,” Bush said. “We hope they will feel as blessed by the wonderful people at First Presbyterian as we were.”                                


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