First Presbyterian happily welcomed Vanessa Hawkins as the new Director of Women’s Ministry in August 2017.
A committee of six women, led by Dr. Mike Phillips, was tasked with locating the right woman for the job. After an extensive year-long national search, the committee unanimously recommended Vanessa to the Session, and the Session unanimously approved her hiring. She accepted the call and was introduced to the congregation via video message on July 16, and officially joined the staff team on August 21.
Elena Boone, a member of the search committee, said the most important aspect of the search was prayer. She said the committee prayed specifically and repeatedly for three things: 1) that God would give the committee clear direction; 2) that he would provide a woman who loves him passionately and who would be uniquely gifted to lead the women of First Presbyterian; and 3) that God would make the decision unanimous, and that all seven members of the search team would agree wholeheartedly on a recommendation. After a second interview with Vanessa, the team agreed that it was time to invite Vanessa to Augusta to visit in person. While in Augusta, Vanessa met with the search committee, the women’s council, the pastors, and several other members of the church staff, and all gave their enthusiastic support of calling Vanessa for the position.
“She thinks biblically and deeply, and is an articulate, winsome, and wise communicator of truth.”
The committee received glowing recommendations from several sources, perhaps most notably from Courtney Doctor, Director of Women’s Ministry at Kirk of the Hills (PCA) in St. Louis, Missouri. Courtney has known Vanessa as a fellow graduate student, friend, and most recently as Vanessa has served as her intern in the Kirk’s Women’s Ministry. Courtney said, “Vanessa is a gifted and capable woman, known for her intellect, insight, and willingness to help. She is characterized by wisdom, and people seek her out for her wise counsel. She thinks biblically and deeply, and is an articulate, winsome, and wise communicator of truth.”
Vanessa worked as Women’s Ministry Intern at Kirk of the Hills for the past two years. She recently finished her Master of Divinity degree at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and continues to pursue her Master of Arts in Counseling degree. She previously studied engineering at the University of Arkansas for two years and completed her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in the School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.
Born and raised in a small farming community, Dumas, Arkansas, Vanessa is the youngest of nine children. She was educated in the Dumas public schools where she met her lifetime friend and high school sweetheart, Marcus, in the third grade. Vanessa and Marcus have been married for 21 years and have added to their union three daughters: Kayla, a rising senior who enjoys singing and poetry, and is attending Augusta Preparatory Day School; Sydney, a sophomore who enjoys volleyball, math, and the sciences; and Chelsey, an eighth grader who enjoys making new friends, swimming, and playing basketball. Both Sydney and Chelsey are attending Westminster Schools. Marcus works in information technology for Express Scripts, Inc., and is excited to begin a new phase of his career working from home in Augusta.
Of coming to First Presbyterian, Vanessa said, “I am simply in awe of the way the Lord has orchestrated my family’s steps to be at First Pres and how quickly he has knit my heart to his people here. I am beyond excited to see what he has in store for the First Pres family in this next chapter!”