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The vision for the Village Church goes back a long way — perhaps as far as 1986 when the Rev. Cheri Holdridge began studying at Emory University's Candler School of Theology.
A native of Abilene, Texas, Ms. Holdridge stayed in her hometown while earning a bachelor's degree from McMurry University.
Although she had always been involved in church activities as a teenager, she thought she was too “radical” to enter the ministry.
That was in Abilene. Once she moved to Atlanta to study at Candler, Ms. Holdridge realized there were other like-minded Christians who wanted to change the world.
She became involved with a thriving urban Atlanta church, Trinity United Methodist, which ran a homeless shelter, fed the hungry, and championed social justice issues.
She also met some students who were “gay and Christian — I never knew any gays in Abilene.”
That led Ms. Holdridge to become an advocate for homosexual rights in the church.
After graduating from Candler with a master of divinity degree, she said she “shopped around” for a United Methodist conference where she would feel at home, and settled in Ohio.
Ms. Holdridge was ordained at Lakeside in 1992 and served as a pastor in Cincinnati before moving to northwest Ohio. She was pastor of Christ Church in Findlay and from 1999 to 2008 was pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Toledo's Old West End.
Ms. Holdridge, 46, and her husband, attorney Kurt Young, are the parents of two children — Rebecca, 10, and Jamie, 6.
— David Yonke