She sang soprano as a star in her high school musical this spring, and now 17-year old Kira Geary of Somerset will have a voice in national policy at the United Church of Christ, a 1.3 million-member denomination.
“It’s just really cool to see one of our young people take an interest in something, step up and lead,” said the Rev. Matt Deal, pastor at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Somerset, where Geary has been a member for the past few years. “It’s been inspiring and fun to watch her.”
Geary was one of two youths elected to the denomination’s 52-member national board, which will handle governance for United Church of Christ congregations across the country and guide policy between biannual meetings of the national organization’s general synod members, Deal said.
“She has quite an interest in governance and how organizations work and function,” Deal said of Geary, who also is active in the church’s youth group, youth choir and chancel choir. Deal chaired the nominating committee that selected the national board members, but he said he let Geary’s accomplishments speak for themselves.
“I was able to sit back and watch (the nominating committee) sing her praises,” he said. “They were impressed by her desire to serve the church.”
Geary, also elected student council president for her senior year this fall Somerset Area High School, said she was drawn to the idea of being part of the church’s activism on issues such as green energy and outreach programs. Two weeks ago, she attended the church’s national conference in Long Beach, Calif., where she got her first taste of the duties she’ll experience as a board member. The board also will meet twice a year in Cleveland to make decisions.
“There were so many people there,” Geary said. “There were tables set out from different regions, and they would send people with resolutions up to discuss them. It was kind of like watching Congress.
“I was really happy because I saw how our national church is working to do good. It’s nice to see what your church is doing on a broader scale.”
Geary, who hopes to become a lawyer one day, said she’s always enjoyed public speaking, a talent that helped her feel comfortable accepting a national leadership role. She’s been involved in forensics since seventh grade, she said, and made it to states and nationals three times.
“Even when I speak in class, I don’t get nervous,” she said. “It’s something I’m proud of.”
That same confidence compelled her to try out for the part of Maria in Somerset’s high school musical, “The Sound of Music,” this spring.
Though it was her first attempt at joining a musical, she landed the starring role in the three-hour performance.
“The biggest thing to know with public speaking is the people you’re standing in front of are there to support what you’re saying,” she said. “It’s the same with the musical, too. You have to realize no one is there to judge you or criticize you.”