New Interim Pastor Named

Rev. Dr. Ken McKenzie

First Presbyterian Church, Dalton, has called an interim pastor to serve until a permanent pastor is called.  The Rev. Dr. Kenneth B. McKenzie, a retired Presbyterian (PCUSA) pastor, will assume his duties Thanksgiving Week on Monday, November 21, 2022.

Dr. McKenzie and his wife, Vicki, are no strangers to the Dalton church. In the summer of 2021, he filled the church’s pulpit for two consecutive weeks while the Rev. Dr. Will Scott was on sabbatical. Dr. Scott accepted a call in June 2022 to serve as the senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, La.

Mrs. McKenzie considers Dalton her hometown.  Her father, Joe Davis, was principal of Dalton High School during the construction of and move to the Dalton High School campus on Manly Street in 1976. She grew up here. The McKenzies were married at First Presbyterian Church, Dalton in 1978, so in many ways, they really are just coming back home.

The role of an Interim Pastor in a Presbyterian Church (USA) is more involved than holding worship services and meeting with the Session and various Sessional Committees.  The interim pastor is trained to lead the congregation and staff through self-examination of the church to evaluate the past and plan for the future. This helps the congregation to define its priorities as well as to determine the desired characteristics of the pastor they will call.

While the search for the interim was occurring, the Rev. Dr. Walter Jones and the Rev. Dr. Dick Neelly, both retired Presbyterian (USA) pastors currently affiliated with First Presbyterian, Dalton, shared the pastoral duties of the church with Jones focusing on worship services and day-to-day administration and Neelly concentrating on visitation and pastoral care.

Dr. McKenzie is an Atlanta native and a graduate of the University of Georgia and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.

The retired Presbyterian minister has served Georgia parishes in Atlanta, Bainbridge, Rome, Pooler, Savannah, and Rockmart as well as his first parish in Greensboro, NC. He also served as General Presbyter for the Savannah Presbytery, headquartered in Brunswick, Ga.

Prior to his retirement, he served as a Clinical Trauma Chaplain at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah in 2019.

The McKenzies have two grown sons, Mac and Ian.  Their dad says both young men live “close enough to join them in an emergency but too far away to come and cut the grass!” Maybe that’s why the new interim says he and his wife enjoy working in their yard and volunteering at Faith Presbyterian Church and the Blue Ridge Arts Association in their retirement hometown of Blue Ridge, Ga.