Life for this Scottish Presbyterian began on the prairies of the Midwest on a farm just north of Peoria, Illinois. Yes, I had a herd of sheep and a horse. After graduation from Monmouth College, a Presbyterian school, teaching in elementary schools in Chicago suburbs and marriage, then came graduate school in NYC. Culture shock for a farm girl! Surviving, even thriving in NYC, and a master’s degree in my pocket, the teaching continued. This time at NYU in their international nursery school. A short and splendid stop in Washington, DC, then off to Pittsburgh working on a research project at the U of Pitt. There I became a mother to son number one. Sixth Presbyterian Church in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh invited me to serve as Elder. I was ordained and served.

Itinerate life continued back to Illinois and closer to family at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Son number two was born. Again, I served as Elder at Second Presbyterian Church which merged with First Presbyterian in Evanston. I represented Second Presbyterian Church congregation on Session. Shortening the story, my term on Session at Westminster in Albany represented Session number eight (8).

A longer stay at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana, leading an agency which served six counties in east central Illinois offered abundant opportunity for learning, growing, developing, expanding and exploring – not just a career – me as well. My turn. First Presbyterian Church of Urbana found me on Session again, attending the Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois meetings as Commissioner for years. Serving as Presbytery Commissioner to GA in Richmond, I chaired a GA committee. Imagine my surprise! A humbling honor indeed. Me! Standing between Susan Andrews, outgoing Moderator of GA and Rick Ufford Chase, incoming Moderator. The Urbana church was developing a robust sister church relationship and mission with a church in Domasi, Malawi Africa. Twice I traveled with the mission team to build shallow wells for clean drinking water, complete painting of the new church building and cementing friendships with our Malawian brothers and sisters.

Clearly, my faith and church represent a significant and one of the most consistent components of my journey. What a journey! Joy. Family. Love. Friends. Adventures. Pain. Fear. Sadness. Travel. Education. Moving vans. Lots of moving vans. Back and forth between the Mississippi and Hudson Rivers several times, returning to Albany in 2008 where I believed my future awaited.

You see, those two sons, their respective wives and my two super (smart) granddaughters reside in the Albany area. We enjoy celebrating birthdays, holidays, cooking and eating, camping trips, boat rides, dogs and laughing – oh, and cooking and eating! When I’m not with family other interests include riding my bike, hiking, gardening, playing Bocce ball, live music, friends, walking, sewing, exploring NY history and volunteering fill my days.

Just a pilgrim on a journey with Jesus…join me!

About Judy Hartley

Judy Hartley is Albany Presbytery's 2020 Vice Moderator. She has served on Session in a total of eight churches, most recently at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany. Judy enjoys spending time with her two grown sons and her two granddaughters who also live in the Albany area. When she's not with family, other interests include bike riding, hiking, gardening, playing Bocce ball, live music, friends, walking, sewing, exploring NY history and volunteering.

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