The Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath

Denomination: United Church of Christ (UCC)
Organization: The Congregational Church in Exeter UCC, Exeter, NH


Rev. Emily C. Heath, Pastor

Pastor Emily began as the senior pastor of our church in July 2014. A native of Virginia, she grew up in Winter Park, Florida. After majoring in English and Religion at Emory University she went on to Columbia Theological Seminary. At Columbia Emily received a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology and then served as a chaplain specializing in trauma. Before coming to Exeter, Emily was the pastor of a UCC congregation in southern Vermont, as well as the chaplain and volunteer firefighter on the local fire department.

Outside of the parish Emily is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in leadership at Andover Newton Theological School. In the wider church she serves on the national Board of Directors of the United Church of Christ. She is also a writer whose work is regularly featured in the UCC's Still Speaking Daily Devotionals, as well as the blogs of the Christian Century and Huffington Post's Religion section. Her hobbies include fly fishing, golf, watching the Red Sox, and managing a fantasy football team that manages to regularly implode spectacularly during the first round of the playoffs. But, most of all, she enjoys spending time with her wife, Heidi Carrington Heath, an ordained UCC minister and the associate pastor of First Parish Church in East Derry. They make their home in downtown Exeter and are thrilled to be serving this community.


Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath

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Resurrection Phobia

Tuesday May 31, 2016
When Jesus healed the dead man in Luke 7, the Rev. Emily Heath says that Luke noted "fear seized them all." The people had never seen anything like this. And in the same way even today there is a phobia about resurrection. We Christians live our faith knowing of the resurrection--new life is possible, we believe--but we often don't believe it when we see it.

Articles by The Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath

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Emily C. Heath: Out of the Depths

Thursday February 01, 2018
My first call out of seminary was to a children's hospital. I was a chaplain in a pediatric emergency room, and I spent most of my time meeting families on what were often the worst days of their lives.

Emily C. Heath: The Beginning of Wisdom

Friday January 26, 2018
A few years ago I began adding something new to my prayers every evening. Instead of asking for things to work out the way I wanted, or for nothing to go wrong, I began to pray instead for wisdom. That one small change to my prayer life has made a tremendous difference in my life.

Emily C. Heath: Holding on a Little Too Tight

Tuesday November 14, 2017
I hope that my death is still many years away. Age and actuarial tables tell me that's probably true, but you never really know. Friends and classmates I thought I'd grow old with have been lost in the blink of an eye. I don't live in fear or anxiety, but I do know that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

Emily C. Heath: Humble

Sunday October 22, 2017
Humility gets a bad rap. We think it's the same thing as humiliation, or self-degradation. But that's not true humility. True humility is not about putting yourself down, but rather about realizing that the people who surround you are no less special than you.

Emily C. Heath: Disagreeable

Saturday October 07, 2017
Malcolm Gladwell, the journalist and author, has a theory. He believes that the people who truly create social change in this world are always a little 'disagreeable.' Far from people who seek peace and unity at every cost, disagreeable people are willing not to be liked by everyone. They are also willing to break a rule from time to time in order to do what is right.

Emily C. Heath: Ready to Move

Thursday September 14, 2017
Do you ever feel like God's not paying attention? I've felt that way before. Sometimes I'll look at the unfairness of the world, and the way that evil seems to win out, and I'll wonder, 'Doesn't God care?'

Emily C. Heath: Baking with the Pharisees

Thursday September 07, 2017
Jesus was trying to tell the disciples to be wary of the false teachings of religious authorities like the Pharisees and Sadducees. He compared them to the yeast that makes bread rise, telling them to be wary of what they end up baking.

Emily C. Heath: Armor

Sunday August 27, 2017
If you're like me, Scripture passages about war and armor are difficult. I don't like the idea of violence. I don't want to encourage militaristic ways of looking at the world, and I especially don't want to perpetuate some idea that Christians need to arm ourselves against others. Every time I read this Scripture, though, I wrestle between these fears and something else: hope.

Emily Heath: The Most Stressful Part of Sundays

Friday July 14, 2017
I would rather write five sermons than lead the children's lesson at church. That's not really true, but I can say that I would have a whole lot less anxiety over those sermons than I would about the children's time.

Emily C. Heath: Remembering Grace

Friday July 07, 2017
Perhaps this is wrong, but I have a hard time trusting church people who never admit imperfection.

Emily C. Heath: Chosen Family

Saturday June 10, 2017
I believe in the idea of chosen family. That's no slight to my family of origin, whom I love dearly. But I love the idea that my family is made even larger by the fact that there are people dear to my heart with whom I share no legally-binding connection.

Emily C. Heath: Learning New Languages

Saturday June 03, 2017
Every year on Pentecost Sunday I get the feeling that the church misses the point.

Emily C. Heath: Laughable

Friday May 05, 2017
Abraham and Sarah had given up on having children together. Years past the age of fertility, they knew it just wasn't possible. So when Sarah heard that she is going to have a child, her response is a natural one: she laughs.

Emily C. Heath: I Was Provoked

Wednesday April 19, 2017
Have you ever heard someone say, 'I was provoked'? Sometimes you hear it as a defense after a fight: 'He provoked me!' The idea is that whatever response came next, it was somehow justified.

Emily C. Heath: 168 Hours

Saturday April 01, 2017
One of the things I find myself preaching about the most is time, and how we choose to use it. In one of the few equalities of life, we all are given 168 hours per week. How each of us uses them varies widely, but few of us ever feel that we have enough hours in our week.

Emily C. Heath: A Time for Something New

Sunday March 12, 2017
In the 1960's a band put the words of Ecclesiastes to music, and the world came to know them not so much as Scripture, but as song. Whenever I preach on this passage I see a faint look of recognition in the eyes of the congregation. And after church someone always says to me, 'I didn't know that was in the Bible . . . I thought it was just a song!'

Emily C. Heath: A Culture of Character

Thursday February 02, 2017
In her book Quiet, Susan Cain points out an interesting phenomenon. In one century we have gone from a culture that celebrates character to one that celebrates personality. Cain argues that it was what we did in our private lives that was understood to truly define us in the past. But now it's who we are in public that gets us noticed.

Emily C. Heath: Child of Blessing, Child of Promise

Thursday December 15, 2016
What would it be like if parents proclaimed their children's futures this way? Not in terms of whether or not they'd make the Ivy League or get the corner office, but by blessing them on their journey as children of God?

Emily C. Heath: Getting there…eventually

Sunday November 13, 2016
I have an older and wiser friend who gives good advice. I routinely ignore it. At first, anyway.

Emily C. Heath: Do Justice. Love Kindness. Walk Humbly. And Vote.

Sunday November 06, 2016
This election has exposed an underbelly that has lingered undetected for too long. Any national light we may have has been obscured by the baskets that we ourselves have put over it; baskets like hatred, inequality, violence, intimidation, and more. In our worst moments this fall, we have become a shining example to the world of what not to be.

Emily C. Heath: Saint Sammy

Tuesday November 01, 2016
Earlier this year my college chaplain died. Sammy was a United Methodist minister who in the 1950's had left his PhD program at Princeton to go to seminary. A son of South Georgia, he turned down offers of big steeple churches in the north in order to return home to serve as a pastor and work for civil rights.

Emily C. Heath: What Do You Want?

Sunday October 23, 2016
I've never believed that God is a fairly godmother, granting us exactly what we want when we want it. Our relationship with God should never be one where we ask and just expect to receive, nor should our prayer lives be centered on our own needs or desires. But that's not to say that asking God for help and healing is improper. Even the Bible shows us that.

Emily C. Heath: Lukewarm

Tuesday October 18, 2016
Revelation, the last book of the Bible, often gets a bad rap. Fundamentalists have turned it into some sort of playbook for the end of time, full of hellfire judgement. But the reality is that Revelation was written in the midst of a time of historic church persecution. It's full of powerful imagery that is more metaphorical than literal.

Emily C. Heath: The Joy of Not Knowing it All: Why Christian Education in the Church Matters

Friday October 14, 2016
Jesus never told us to become mindless. He never told us to stop exploring. He never wanted a church of know-it-alls who stopped learning. He wanted the curious. And he wanted disciples.

Emily C. Heath: Why I Don't Believe in Karma

Tuesday October 04, 2016
I don't believe in karma. I don't believe that if you do something crummy to someone else you will pay down the line. Conversely, I don't believe that if you live your life like a saint you will get a good break.

Emily C. Heath: Wonderfully Made

Wednesday September 28, 2016
The month I turned 22 I was in the middle of a years-long fight against clinical depression. I had my college degree in hand (double major in four years), I was starting a new graduate program (seminary, no less), and I had loving friends and family. I had everything to live for, and yet, I was fighting against soul-crushing feelings of hopelessness and sadness every day.

Emily C. Heath: Entitlement

Sunday August 14, 2016
The king didn't know this was happening. In fact, he was still trying to figure out how to help Mordecai. And so he asks Haman a question: What should I do to honor someone special?

Emily C. Heath: The Privilege of Giving

Sunday July 17, 2016
I see giving to the organizations I support as a privilege. In some small way, I get to be a part of work that is greater than myself.

Emily C. Heath: Five Things Mainline Christians Need to Stop Doing

Wednesday July 06, 2016
Without clergy who understand that enormity of this call, we will never have leaders who understand the enormity of what God has called the church to do next.

Emily C. Heath: Plowing Ahead

Wednesday June 29, 2016
Every time we look back to what we've left behind, to the distractions that want us to give up and turn back, we risk losing sight of the one we are following.

Emily C. Heath: A Simple Question

Friday June 10, 2016
There is a common saying in recovery communities used when someone relapses and returns to alcohol or drugs: 'Well, maybe they just needed to do a little more research.'

Emily C. Heath: Death in the Time of Facebook

Sunday June 05, 2016
About two weeks ago my college chaplain, a man who had greatly influenced my faith and life, and who helped set me on the track to seminary and ordination, suffered a serious stroke. I found out on Facebook. Now, before you complain about modern technology, let me say I was grateful I found out that way.

Emily C. Heath: The Next Big Thing--An Excerpt from the new book 'Glorify'

Wednesday May 11, 2016
The tide seems to have turned in many ways when it comes to the inclusion of people of all genders and sexualities in both our churches and our country. Doors to ordination are opening, marriages are being blessed, and the church is growing more comfortable with talking openly about sexuality and gender. And so the question is already being asked by some: What shall we work on next? What big issue does the church need to face?

Emily C. Heath: Following the Light

Wednesday April 13, 2016
Have you ever been lost in the dark? If so, how did you find your way? My guess is that you looked for the light, and you followed it back to the path.

Emily Heath: God, Help Me Not to Mess This Up

Saturday March 19, 2016
Every Sunday, before I preach, I ask the congregation to join me in prayer and I repeat this verse from Scripture. Maybe your pastor does too. That's because reciting Psalm 19 is really just the pastor's way of saying 'God, help me not to mess this up.'

Emily Heath: Wilderness

Wednesday March 09, 2016
Ever have an incredible spiritual experience? One where you felt the presence of God so close to you? One where you just knew that God had a plan for your life, and God was walking with you?