Scott and Candace Hill heard strong call here
Today The Corydon Democrat starts a new series, ‘Your New Neighbors,’ that will run each week for a year. The purpose is to introduce you to a family that’s recently made its home in Harrison or Crawford counties.
If you know of some new folks who have an interesting story or lifestyle that we can share with our readers, please call The Corydon Democrat newsroom at 738-NEWS.
Scott and Candace Hill’s romance began with a conversation several thousand feet in the air, on a non-stop flight from San Diego to Pittsburgh in February of 1997. They were in Row 14.
By the time the plane landed, the two had talked non-stop for 4-1/2 hours about everything: their personal lives, their divorces, their grandmothers, their favorite candy (chocolate), and their favorite passages from the Bible, which, wouldn’t you know, came from the same book, Jeremiah.
They started calling and writing each other (he sent chocolate). She lived outside Pittsburgh and directed children’s ministries at a large urban Presbyterian church. He lived in Ithaca, N.Y., home of Cornell University, where he was associate pastor at a Presbyterian Church.
They fell in love, became engaged in July of 1998, and married a year later.
Hill, 43, is the new pastor at Corydon Presbyterian Church, succeeding the interim pastor, Dr. Wayne Willis of Louisville, and the Rev. C. David Cliburn, who was called to a church in Kansas City.
Hill got to Corydon by way of his hometown, Milwaukee, Michigan State University in Lansing, Egypt, San Francisco, Morocco, Ithaca, and Kankakee, Ill.
It happened like this. After he graduated from MSU in 1982 with a degree in biochemistry, he worked in a medical college lab in Milwaukee for a year before he decided to pursue a Peace Corps-type of dream: He wanted to do a year of volunteer mission service overseas. He went to Egypt and taught seventh, ninth and 11th grade English and science at a girls school in Cairo. He taught for another year in Assiut, a city of half a million on the Nile River six hours south of Cairo. He enjoyed his work and the new culture so much that he thought about staying for a third year.
‘It was a life-changing experience in many ways,’ Hill said last week. It gave him a new perspective on his own life and culture as well as Egypt’s. ‘You see how much we have and you learn that there are other ways of doing things, different values.’ He noticed how people ‘lived their faith every day, every hour,’ and he admired the ‘joyful, powerful faith that I saw in Christians and Muslims alike. I saw something I hadn’t seen before, and I wanted it.’
Hill added, ‘I had had in my mind that standard of living equals quality of life. I saw people who were more joyful because they had less, they had more of a sense of gratitude.’
Hill got engaged, came back to the States and worked in an electroplating factory in Milwaukee. Married in 1986, Hill and his wife headed for San Francisco Theological Seminary. The Presbyterian seminary is part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, which meant that Hill could plug into about 10 local seminaries representing many faiths, which he liked.
He studied there four years and then felt a call back to the Middle East, this time to Rabat, the capital of Morocco, to learn more about the Arab world and to build bridges between cultures. He taught English and worked on ‘interfaith dialogue’ during a very difficult time. The U.S. had invaded Iraq for having invaded Kuwait. Many Americans were leaving the Middle East, but Hill chose to stay.
After a year, Hill returned home and became associate pastor at the church in Ithaca. He was there 7-1/2 years.
Candace Carol Curbo, 53, grew up in a Southern Baptist home in north central Texas and studied education at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. She taught fourth grade for 14 years in Lubbock (now home of Bobby Knight and the Texas Tech Red Raiders). Candace and her first husband and their two children moved to Murrysville, Pa., near Pittsburgh. Candace was director of Christian education at a Presbyterian church there. Following her divorce, Candace became a single mom in 1987.
That same year, Candace accepted a position as director of children’s ministries at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, a large church with 2,400 members. She was working there when she met the Rev. Scott Hill. After they married in 1999 and moved to Kankakee, she became an early intervention developmental therapist for infants with special needs, a challenging job that she enjoyed.
She was also president of the Friends of the Library and was on the board of directors of the Kankakee Public Library.
About a year ago, Hill started looking for a new church, one that was, he said, committed to its community, had strong leadership, wanted to grow in faith, and was also open to things that were important to him, like different cultures and faiths, not to mention the arts.
One day Hill got online and found a posting that had been placed within that hour. Hill said he read the CPC mission statement and the church information form and felt a physical reaction like ‘I had never had before. I thought I was going to cry,’ he said. Hill responded to the posting immediately.
When John Hodges, co-chair of the CPC pastoral search committee, saw Hill’s personal information form ‘the first one he had seen ‘ he had a similar reaction: ‘I had an overwhelming feeling that this is the guy. Boom! This is him! This is him!’
Hodges couldn’t believe it. He made himself do something else for a while before he returned to his computer and read Hill’s resum’ a second time, just to be sure. Again, he felt it was the perfect match.
The Hills moved to Corydon in August and have been embraced by their congregation. In church, Hill is an imposing figure: he stands 6-5 and wears a monk-style robe with long, colorful stoles. His sermon style is upbeat, friendly and conversational. He walks around the sanctuary and delights in audience participation.
Candace is now starting a Christian education consulting service for churches with little or no paid education staff. She calls her business C3, for Creative Christian Consulting. (Remember, her maiden name was Candace Carol Curbo.)
She has a passion for helping churches and church families grow in their faith. And she’s trying to find a way to use her early childhood intervention skills with children with special needs.
Hill said he feels at home at a church that says it’s called to ‘a season of growth,’ wants to take stands on social issues, and reaches out to everyone in the community. Hill said he appreciates a congregation whose members like being together for more than just Sunday worship.
The Hills have bought a house on Walnut Street and, said Candace, they enjoy being able to walk to work, shop, run errands or just visit with people. ‘We feel very welcome; people have been very helpful … We like the sense of community here. That’s very valuable to us,’ Candace said.
And what were their favorite scripture passages?
For Scott, it’s Jeremiah 29: 7: ‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you.’
For Candace, it’s Jeremiah 29:11: ‘I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’
Scott grinned broadly and agreed: ‘Preach it, sister!’