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Former TSU student returns as pastor of St. Mark’s

Messenger Publisher

The last time the Rev. Marty

Conner lived in Troy, she was a pre-med student at Troy State University.

That was in 1977. This weekend, she returns as the new pastor at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

In between, she has been a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force, an economic planner, a founding partner in an economic and community development consulting firm and a wife and mother.

"As for the calling, God pretty well took care of that for me," she joked recently.

She remembers the time well. "I was in grad school at USM (University of Southern Mississippi) working on the altar party as a chalice bearer, when I got a word from God that I was supposed to be a priest," she said. "It was kind of a surprise to me, and it took a long time to reach a point where I could pursue it."

At the time, she had a newborn son – Sean, who is now 18 – and a daughter, Rachel, who is now 21. And a successful career in economic development.

"It’s not as different as you might think," she said. "In community development you’re helping communities build themselves up. Being a priest is not dreadfully different. You just know who the boss is … and you’re building the people of God."

She began seminary in 1997 at Virginia Theological Seminary and was ordained a deacon and then, last year, as

priest. She served as assistant rector at St. Jude’s in Niceville, Fla., before coming to Troy.

"My husband (Michael) and I were married at St. Mark’s, although we weren’t members of the congregation there," she said. "I always said in the back of my mind, ‘gee, wouldn’t it be nice to go back to Troy.’"

Now, Conner is excited about working with the congregation at St. Mark’s. "We’re looking forward to making St. Mark’s an even more lively and wonderful place to worship and a place where everyone is welcome with whatever doubts, questions, fears or anxieties they have" she said.

Conner has plans to expand the campus ministry programs at St. Mark’s. "The most important thing is getting the students together to worship in an environment in which they’re comfortable," she said.