Westfield pastor chosen for Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program


Rev. Kara Bussabarger sees great benefits in her participation in the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program.

The pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Westfield was selected to participate in the highly competitive two-year program, a Lilly Endowment-sponsored initiative for the purpose of leadership development and theological reflection. The program engages pastors in the exploration of critical economic, educational and political challenges that face Indiana communities and help them develop the knowledge and skills to become stronger leaders in their congregations and communities.

“By being a part of this prestigious program, I hope to experience transforming encounters, make lifelong connections and gain invaluable leadership experience, while growing greater in the understanding of God’s purpose for me and those whom I serve,” Bussabarger said.  “And I sincerely love learning from and engaging with other people. I am a believer and seeker in hearing people’s stories. I believe stories can transcend. We all have a story, you, me, all of us. And, we are all more alike than we imagine. I seek to be a person that looks past outside appearances, stigmas and barriers and sees people’s deeper stories, and make space for the other.

“As a fruitful leader, I want to rise where others have put me down and to encourage, uplift, and help others rise with me. We are not alone, and everyone’s story matters.

After being nominated, Bussabarger went through an extensive application process.

“I was attracted to the program because I am always looking to learn and expand my horizons in order to transform and grow in my pastoral ability,” she said. “I long for opportunities in which I can improve and increase my professional development and awareness in life, but most importantly, continue to deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ.

“I also desire to have deep, thoughtful conversations in brave spaces with others so that we can work together to figure out how to make lasting adaptive transformation and (let) change take foothold in our Indiana communities and the world.”

Bussabarger, who previously served a congregation in Fort Wayne, became Christ United Methodist Church senior pastor in July.  The Westfield resident said she is a pastor and leader to the entire community in which she resides.

“John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was famous for saying, ‘I look upon all the world as my parish,’” Bussabarger said. “Thus, he concluded that he would minister to anyone and in all the places to which he went. So, I have come to believe that my mission field of service is wherever my feet reside at that very moment.”

Bussabarger, who graduated from North Harrison High School in Ramsey, completed and earned her bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University. She earned a master’s of divinity degree from Louisville Seminary, where she was won the Melanie Lane Preaching Award.

During the program, the pastors will learn about a range of topics, such as statewide efforts to strengthen public education, Indiana economic initiatives, the impact of immigration on local communities and advances in medical research and their impact on health care.

Pastors in the program are scheduled to participate in a study tour to the Mexican/American border to examine immigration issues during the first year and an international study tour to South Africa in the second year to learn about transnational contexts.

For more about the program, visit pastor.wabash.edu.