Autobiography for Rev. Marie Edwards Branigan
I grew up outside of Albany NY in the suburban community of East Greenbush NY where my parents Thomas and Elizabeth were members of the First United Methodist Church. As a child, I loved Sunday School and singing in the children’s choir. My grandmother gifted me with the opportunity to attend bible camp for one week every summer. I made a commitment to Christ at camp at the age of 7; camp remained a touchstone of my faith well into my teens.
I was active in Methodist Youth Fellowship at church, Music and Drama programs at school and 4H in my community during High School. Being an achieving student and the oldest of five siblings, I felt drawn to teaching children. I entered SUNY Oswego in 1975 and graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education in 1979. Rather than teach in a traditional setting, I accepted a position in a residential school for developmentally disabled children in 1980. Over the next seven years I worked in a variety of settings teaching and providing direct care to developmentally disabled persons with a wide range of ages and impairments. I enrolled in Beaver College in Glenside, PA in 1985 and received an M.Ed. in Special Education in May of 1987. That fall, I accepted a position with the Philadelphia School System teaching in an inner city setting.
At about this time I was embarking on a new phase of my spiritual journey. Church had not been a part of my life for most of my twenties, but following my father’s death in 1986, I returned to the faith of my childhood seeking comfort, assurance, and hope. I was led into the life of Old Pine Presbyterian Church where I became a member in 1988. Spiritual growth quickly became the focal point of my life. As I moved ever deeper into the life of that congregation I felt drawn to a call to ordained ministry. After struggling with this call for over two years, I enrolled in Princeton Theological Seminary in 1992.
I focused on urban and multicultural ministry during my years at Princeton. I found a warm worshipping community at Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church where I served as a part time intern from 1993-94. I then served as a full-time intern at Western Presbyterian church in Washington DC from 1994-1995. My experiences in these congregations led to an interest in Church Redevelopment. Upon my graduation from PTS in 1996, I accepted a call to designated pastor in a struggling congregation, after which I found my way into Interim Ministry. Over the course of 22 years I have continued to assist congregations in transition and/or in need of transformation. I thoroughly enjoy ministering to persons in the midst of changing times and circumstances.
My life since ordination has also been in transition. I met my husband Jim Branigan in 1999 and we were married in 2000. Early in 2002 we began an adoption process that led to our bringing our daughter home from Guatemala in March of 2003. Through the years, I’ve found my triple vocation as minister, wife, and mother a joyous challenge which I seek to fulfill depending on the grace and power of God.