Rev. Tara Thompson has always felt a pull toward ministry, and for her, the next step on her journey is serving as pastor at the First Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Emporia, the congregation that welcomed her last month.
Thompson is a Springfield, Mo., native who received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo. She earned her Master of Divinity Degree from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa. She moved from Salina after serving at the Belmont Boulevard Christian Church.
“I was very involved in the church back at home [in Springfield], also a Disciples of Christ church, from a young age,” she said.
In her junior year at MSSU, Thompson decided to take a summer class in France. She traveled to Grenoble for a week, and it was in Paris that she made a decision after being at a crossroads in her life about whether to go to seminary or get a master’s degree in counseling.
“We were at Notre Dame, and I went to the corner, lit a candle, prayed and I felt a call to seminary,” she said.
She has now been in congregational ministry for 18 years.
Over time, she said her faith has deepened.
“I have a deeper understanding that God is always there, and I’ve learned I experience God through other people,” she said. “I experience God through the love of other people and through serving other people, and also people loving and serving me as well. We’re all in this together, and when we join forces there’s nothing we can’t do.”
Thompson said she chose First Christian Church in Emporia partly for its service to the community, such as offering a clothes closet, household hut, food pantry and more.
“As people of faith, there is always more we can do,” she said. “We each can grow in our ways, and see how we can grow in our faith walk together, and be community, and God will show us what that looks like.”
Thompson also relies on the strength and support of mentors. She attended Bethany Fellows, a four-year-long mentoring program for new clergy. Two times a year, the program met for a week-long retreat.
“I have so many mentors from Bethany,” she said. “I may not talk to them for a year but somehow my mentor Mark knows when I’m going through a difficult time, and I get a text saying ‘I sense something is going on, I’m praying for you.’”
She also credits Phil Snider of Springfield as an “amazing mentor and supporter” of her.
Thompson is a mother to a 2-year-old foster child to whom she devotes her free time.
“We love the zoo, Peter Pan Park, going for walks, going swimming,” she said. “Really my free time is all about him and doing things with him.”