Triple threat: Rev. Lisa Hawkins is a multifaceted person

October 8, 2018

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Some people call the Rev. Lisa Hawkins a triple threat.

She certainly is a dynamic and multifaceted individual who has spent her life taking care of others. Hawkins is not only trained to care for one’s soul but their mind and body as well.

“She is very giving and has a heart of gold,” said Cheryl Roberson, the administrative assistant at Centenary United Methodist Church.

Hawkins earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1980 from Clemson University, a Master of Science in clinical psychiatric nursing in 1990 from the Medical University of South Carolina, and in answering God’s call into full-time ordained ministry, she earned a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

She does double duty as pastor of Centenary and Kingsville United Methodist churches in Hartsville.

Her path to becoming a Methodist minister is not the norm.

Born a New Yorker, raised a Charlestonian, Hawkins was 8 years old when her parents returned to their native South Carolina. As a child she attended Immaculate Conception school in Charleston from third grade through eighth grade. She graduated from Bishop England High School.

Hawkins said she was raised Catholic, educated in Catholic schools and almost became a nun. She said her mother didn’t particularly like that idea.

“My mother played the organ for a Methodist church,” Hawkins said. “We would go to Mass and walk around to the Methodist church and catch the end of the service.”

In 1984, Hawkins married a man who belonged to the AME church.

“We moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and he wasn’t comfortable in the Catholic Church,” Hawkins said. “We couldn’t find a good AME church, so I said let’s go to the Methodist.”

Hawkins said people might be surprised to know that the two churches have some similar traditions.

“We even have Catholic hymns in our hymnal,” she said.

When the new Methodist hymnals came out in 1989, Hawkins realized it contained songs she learned in the third grade at Catholic school.

It was while attending a Christian Renewal Weekend recommended by her minister at the time that she was called to follow his career path. She said it was three days of talks about Christianity, fellowship and communion every day.

“At the end of it, you didn’t want to leave,” she said. “I realized without a doubt that God was calling me. It was undeniable.”

When she expressed her desire to become a minister to her mother, Hawkins said this time she didn’t object.

In 2003, Hawkins was ordained an elder in the South Conference of the United Methodist Church. She served as the first African-American female director of a Wesley Foundation in the South Carolina Conference from 2000 to 2014. She was the director/ campus minister of Charleston Wesley Foundation which serves College of Charleston, The Citadel, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston Southern University and Trident Technical College.

Hawkins serves Kingsville UMC with a 9:30 a.m. Sunday service and Centenary UMC with an 11 a.m. service. She preaches the same sermon to both congregations.

“It doesn’t come out the same, and that is the Holy Spirit at work,” she said. “It takes me about a week to prepare a sermon. I select a text and pray about it. I try to always bring it (the message) out of biblical times into today.”

She is fortunate the churches aren’t far apart, but she still doesn’t get to participate in Sunday school.

“I do a lot of running around,” she said.

Hawkins also serves as a volunteer chaplain at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center.

“I love doing that,” she said.

She likes that it pulls in her nursing background.

Laughingly, she said that she has to remember when visiting the hospital that she can’t stop and look at IVs or read charts.

“I have to remember I’m not the nurse,” she said. “That is not my duty. I was a nurse for 17 years, and it was hard to leave it.”

She said in the seminary they taught her not to throw away her nursing but to bring it into her ministry.

“I am happy,” she said. “My life is very full. As a United Methodist minister, we don’t stay any place very long. I don’t look forward to the day I have to leave this community and start all over at my age.”

Hawkins is involved in many aspects of the Hartsville community, including Community Theater. She developed a love for theater when she was just 6 years old.

“My mom took me to a Broadway play,” she said. “What I remember was the colors, the costumes and even the smells of the theater. It was magical. I fell in love with it there. I never thought I’d be on stage. I’m very shy, but I loved going to the theater and became a box office volunteer. Then I heard about adult acting classes in Charleston.”

She was an adult and a campus minister when she signed up for acting classes.

“I had a blast,” she said “I learned so much about the art of acting and how to learn your lines.”

Her acting debut didn’t occur until she moved to Hartsville. She auditioned for a part in the Hartsville Community Players’ production of “ ’Til Beth Do Us part.”

She said she had auditioned before in Charleston but never got called back for a part.

“Lenora (Lefew) gave me my first break,” she said. “It has only heightened my love of theater. When I get on stage, I am that character. I am no longer Lisa.”

She has performed in several other productions, has been an assistant director and is a member of the board of directors of the Hartsville Community Players.

“It takes a lot of time,” she said. “Each one is going to be my last, but it pulls me back in.”

She said she’d like to take a class in directing so she can one day direct a play.

Performing in a musical is out of the question, she said, because she couldn’t count on her voice. However, she is a member of the Hartsville Community Chorus.

Her musical talents don’t stop with acting and singing. She also plays the piano, flute and the dulcimer.

She played flute in high school and has purchased one to refurbish.

“I don’t have the breath that I had at 17,” she said. “But my goal is to practice enough that I can play in a group.” She already plays in a dulcimer group.

Hawkins’ extracurricular activities don’t stop there. She volunteers as a tutor for the Florence County Literacy Council, tutoring one-on-one with a woman from Mexico.

“I would like to get fluent in Spanish so I can understand and speak it back,” she said.

She likes to read, paint, cross-stitch and bake when she has the time. She also enjoys archery.

She said painting is a great way to relieve stress.

“I go to painting classes at Artbug,” she said. “And the stress rolls off of you.”

The pastor is the mother of a 30-year-old daughter who followed in her footsteps as a registered nurse at MUSC’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit and of a four-legged, 10-year-old son, Miguel Ramon, who has her “wrapped around his front paw.”

“I rescued him when he was 2 years old,” she said. “He was abandoned at the vet’s office.”

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