In Her Own Words: A Q&A With Janice Six

Editor’s Note: Janice Six, associate pastor of First Central Presbyterian Church, is retiring effective June 1. Following is a Q&A with Janice. Click here for stories and photos from Janice’s retirement luncheon.
Janice and Gene Six

Q. Where did you grow up and what church did you attend?

I was born and reared here in Abilene. My grandparents and their 10 children moved to Abilene from Barstow, Texas, around 1925. My dad was the youngest of the children at age 18 months. They arrived on a Thursday and on Sunday morning the entire family walked to First Presbyterian Church and occupied one entire pew. They promptly joined the church that day and a photographer from the newspaper came to their home that afternoon and shot a stairstep photo of the family. The headline accompanying the photo read, “Presbyterian Church Increases by a Dozen” My dad never moved from Abilene, and one of my brothers and I have reared our families here, too. This makes our granddaughter the first of the fourth generation of our family to be at FCPC. I graduated from Abilene High School in 1974. My name at the time was Janice Allen. 

Q. Tell us about your family.

Gene and I married at FCPC in June 1983. We have one son, Greg, and his wife, Trudy. They have a 3-year-old daughter, Greer. We have one daughter, Julia, who will marry Jace Aldriedge, also of Abilene, on Friday, May 20, at First Central Presbyterian.

Q. Tell us about your Presbyterian heritage.

In addition to what I wrote for the first question, my ancestors as far back a the 1700s (and probably forever back in Scotland from whence they came) on both my mother and dad’s side have all been Presbyterian. The Allens were charter members of the Hawfields Presbyterian Church in Mebane, North Carolina. It was founded around 1755 and built the building where  they continued to worship in 1852. My mother’s family, the Alexanders, also came from the Carolinas and were active Presbyterians. 

My mother grew up at Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church in Albany, Texas, so when she and my dad decided to marry they did so in the manse of First Presbyterian Church here in Abilene. 

Q. What in ministry will you miss the most?

That’s hard to know right now. I’ve enjoyed all aspects of ministry here at FCPC and also in Palo Duro Presbytery and Synod of the Sun. Relationships with so many incredibly wonderful people of all ages are what I will miss the most. I continue to remind the congregation that Gene and I are not moving out of Abilene. After some time away, I’ll return as an active volunteer and worship in the pew right beside other members.  

Q. What ministries and interests do you think you will pursue after retirement?

Aside from home and family, which tops my list, I intend to take some time before delving into anything. I’m sure at some point, I’ll volunteer at the Presbyterian Food Pantry across from FCPC, also at B.O.B.S. on Thursday mornings when the FCPC gang prepares biscuits and gravy, and I will help in the Garden of Hope, which is overseen by Presbyterian Women. I have a couple of other possible pursuits but I’m not ready to say what they are yet. 

Q. Church attendance in all mainstream denominations has been dwindling for years. What are some positive signs? Do you see an entirely new look for “church” in the future?

The good news is that Christ’s church will prevail—in some form or another! Granted, mainline denominations have been steadily declining in membership over the past several years and there are numerous theories and observations as to why this might me. Thankfully, FCPC is an anomaly. We have continued to add new members to our family of faith even during COVID. We even have a few people who live in other parts of the state, who have joined FCPC via Zoom! Interestingly, most of our members are young adults (under 40 years) and have been very intentional about knowing what it means to be a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), since authenticity is highly valued, as is serving Christ by serving others. A strong value of FCPC that resonates with Gen X and Millennials is our commitment to mission efforts both locally and abroad. For years we have been able to give the equivalence of more than 33 percent of our annual budget, and this includes these past couple of years during Covid. Many are also attracted to FCPC because we offer traditional worship, which some might find surprising; however, the pendulum continues to swing from one edge to the other, so some younger members are now attracted to liturgy, and having an order of worship that includes such things as confession of sin and assurance of pardon. Since Presbyterians are known for the phrase, “Reformed and always reforming,” we keep an ear to the ground and continually weigh the issues of society in regard to what we know of God through Scripture. As a pastor and teacher, it’s important to me that we treat Scripture as the living word of God and not a historical document. I refer to this as applied theology—prayerfully thinking through how we can apply what we know of God’s nature and the teachings of Christ to our daily lives. 

Q. What are your immediate plans after retirement?

In the immediate future, we have plans to spend a few days in Ruidoso and after the first of the year go to a music festival on board a cruise ship. Eventually, we plan to visit Scotland and the Isle of Iona, and we’re also looking forward to resuming our annual family vacation to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2023! 

Q. Anything else?

I was born in 1955, which is the same year that the Presbyterian Church made way for women to be ordained as pastors. Fifty years later as the PC(USA) celebrated the ordaining of women as pastors, I was celebrating my 50th birthday and my ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament, and the first female pastor to be called to FCPC. I hope many women will be called by our congregation in the years to come. 

At age 60, I received the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I came on staff at FCPC on June 1, 1997, and my first official day of retirement will be June 1, 2022—25 years later!

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