Her path to the ministry came out of the Rev. Dr. Brandi Casto-Waters desire to help and serve others.
It wasn’t necessarily at the top of her career list when she was growing up.
“I never said, ‘Someday, I’m going to be in the ministry,’” said Casto-Waters, who recently took over as the senior pastor at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church on Walton Way.
As she was nearing the completion of her undergraduate degree at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., Casto-Waters realized that she’d inadvertently double-majored in sociology and religion. That led her to take another look at her life’s goals, and she entered Columbia Seminary, where she’d eventually meet her husband, Andy.
The more she became immersed in her seminary experience, the more she realized becoming a pastor was her ultimate calling.
“It’s the thing I can’t not do,” she said.
She resisted the idea of being a pastor early on in seminary. She could see herself in youth ministry, but she wasn’t sure being in the pulpit was the place she belonged. As part of her studies, she was required to take a preaching class, and she discovered she loved it.
After graduating, she found herself to be a trailblazer for women. At every church she’s serve, she’s been the first female senior pastor.
She recalled a segment on “Sesame Street,” where “One of these things is not like the other.” And most of the time she’d think of that when entering a new church and seeing the photographs of all the previous pastors on the wall, all of whom were always men.
At Reid, there are other female clergy, but she’s still the first woman to lead the congregation.
Prior to taking the position at Reid, she’d served as a church in a community in western Florida. It was a relatively new community, established only 60 years ago. Most of the residents were transplants from other places.
No one had roots, she said.
Reid is much different, and it’s a difference that she embraces.
“It has a rich history,” she said. “It’s rooted in the community. There are generations in this congregation.”
Casto-Waters first Sunday was Feb. 27. An installation service is scheduled for June 5.
Right now, her husband and youngest daughter, Lucy, are still in Florida to allow Lucy to graduate high school.
Their other daughter, Ella, is a freshman at Casto-Waters’ alma mater – Presbyterian College.
Her husband has degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary as well as Union Presbyterian Seminary. He has served in a variety of roles including youth and education, campus ministry and as a part time supply pastor.