‘My first impressions are great’

Published 11:39 am Friday, July 8, 2011

The Rev. Marilee A. Benson took over as the new pastor of First United Methodist Church in Austin after the Rev. Patricia Toschak retired June 14. -- Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com

Rev. Marilee Benson is the new pastor of First United Methodist Church


It’s what every pastor must get used to in his or her career.

For the Rev. Marilee A. Benson, new pastor of First United Methodist Church in Austin, change has been good thus far. She’s taken over for the Rev. Patricia Toschak, who retired June 14.

Email newsletter signup

“I’ve only been at this a couple of weeks,” Benson said.

Though Benson’s first Sunday preaching in Austin was less than three weeks ago, she’s taken well to Austin. First United Methodist is the sixth parish she’s preached at in her 31-year career, and she likes it here in Austin.

“I love the town,” she said. “My first impressions are great. Everybody is so friendly. … From what I’ve seen, I like it very very much.”

Benson was pastor of Annandale United Methodist church for eight years before coming to Austin, so she knows about strong bonds with her congregation. However, Benson also knows she can’t replace Toschak, as Toschak was pastor of First United Methodist for 14 years and previously Benson’s district superintendent.

“It’s brand new, and I know Pat,” she said. “She’s a personal friend of mine. I don’t think I can ever fill her shoes.”

Yet Benson added she’s going to walk in her own shoes and form a new bond with her new congregation. That’s because after 30 years of preaching, she still loves what she does.

“I think it’s just the ability to travel life with people in the good times and the bad times,” she said about why she still does what she does. “… and reminding them God is still with them.”

Though pastors can potentially be reassigned to different churches once a year, they may stay if things are going well. If things keep going well with Benson, as they already have, perhaps she’ll spend another eight years at her new church — right in the middle of Austin.