Rev. Cindy Jarvis


Cynthia Jarvis never intended to become a Presbyterian minister. An English major at Denison University, she considered journalism, theater, the writing life or even, in desperation, becoming a paralegal. Instead she received a Rockefeller Trial Year Fellowship in 1971, a grant designed for religious outliers whose questions about God far outnumbered their affirmations. That year was spent in Boston. There she attended concerts, lecture series, protests and, by the way, went to classes in Old Testament, theology and social ethics at Boston University School of Theology. At the year’s end, she was hopelessly hooked on theology and transferred to Vanderbilt Divinity School. She completed her M.Div. degree in June of 1974 and was awarded the Tillet Prize in Theology. Like all cradle Presbyterians, she had learned to love God with her mind.


Ordained in September of 1974 to be the assistant minister of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wooster, Ohio, a congregation in residence at The College of Wooster, Cindy’s responsibilities included campus ministry. During those years, she gathered students who were uneasy with the institution of religion and invited them to wrestle weekly (often late into the night) with questions of faith. Many of those students are now colleagues in churches throughout the country. In 1979, she became Director of Field Education and Assistant Professor of Ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago where she loved teaching theology and literature and where she spent two years missing pastoral ministry. Therefore in 1981, when the search committee of Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey asked her to be the Associate Ministry for Pastoral Care, she leapt at the chance to return to a congregation. With most of the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary in the pews, her understanding of the church’s faith was tested and deepened during her time in Princeton. In 1996, the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill asked her to be the minister and head of staff. Through many dangers, toils and snares, she has been taught, by the congregation whose teacher she is, how to love God with her heart too!


Cindy enjoys spending time at their cottage in Maine where Cindy reads theology, literature and the New York Times. Currently, she is co-editor of a seven volume biblical commentary for Westminster John Knox Press entitled Feasting on the Gospels. She is also co-editor of two books: Loving God with the Mind: The Pastor as Theologian and The Power to Comprehend with All the Saints: The Formation and Practice of a Pastor-Theologian. Currently she is writing a book of personal theological essays on the frescoes of Fra Angelico in the Cloisters of San Marco in Florence. With Mark A. Anderson, former Minister of Music in Chestnut Hill, she has written the text for Hear Now Our Praise with All Creation, the AGO Hymn of the Year in 1999 and Love’s Mystery, written for the 100th anniversary of the Philadelphia Chapter of AGO.