The Rev. Dr. Pat Youngdahl, Ph.D.

The Rev. Dr. Pat Youngdahl
For forty-two years now, I have been a Minister of Word and Sacrament. As a pastor, professor, and writer, I seek to respond to the Spirit's call to grow in lovingkindness toward all.

From 2004-2012, and from 2014-2021, I had the tremendous blessing of being Minister of Word and Sacrament at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York, which included developing a dynamic creative partnership with Dr. Lee Wright, Director of Music Ministry, whose doctoral research and thesis at the Eastman School of Music focused on the development of the concert spiritual in late 19th century America. In this loving community of faith and exploration, rich in diversity of race, culture, spiritual perspective, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, and economic circumstance, we learned together, as pastor and congregation, how to build an authentic and enlivening unity. We devoted ourselves to seeking peace in the world, fullness of life for everyone, and healing for this beautiful, imperiled earth which is God's gift to us all. During these years, I also had the joy of teaching in the Doctor of Ministry Program at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.

Upstate New York is familiar and beloved terrain for me. My first call after divinity school was as Associate Pastor at Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester, where in addition to my responsibilities for worship leadership, pastoral care, stewardship, and teaching, I collaborated with parish leaders to design and implement a comprehensive program for adult spiritual development.

My next call was as Pastor and Head of Staff of First Presbyterian Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Here I worked with members in a process of biblical and theological study, goal-setting, and implementation that resulted in increased membership, growth in monetary giving, and expanding involvement in the congregation's inner-city neighborhood.

Before my return to Rochester to be in ministry at Downtown Presbyterian Church, I completed a doctorate in Rhetoric at the University of Arizona in Tucson. During these years I received a Jacob Javits Fellowship and won the Johnnie Raye Harper Award for distinguished teaching in programs for multicultural students, including first year writers as well as graduate students working on their doctorates. I also preached in many congregations throughout the Presbytery de Cristo and was a frequent guest facilitator of the weekly group meeting at Casa Paloma, a transitional program for women in need of housing.

My doctoral thesis, completed in 1996, was titled Subversive Devotions: Toward a Wholehearted Practice of Christian Faith, and is available through the Main Library at the University of Arizona, Tucson. My book, Subversive Devotions: A Journey into Divine Pleasure and Power, was published by BeanPole Books (Tucson) in 2003.

Born in Chicago, I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, with a double major in English and creative writing, and a double minor in psychology and religion. I was blessed to be awarded a three-year North American Ministerial Fellowship for outstanding promise as a minister-theologian and earned my Master of Divinity degree through studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

I am married to Michal McKenzie, whose kindness and wise counsel help to shape everything I write. We enjoy hiking, birding, cooking, yoga, singing, mindfulness practice, and T'ai Chi. This year (2023), we are celebrating 40 years together.