The Rev. Nancy Sue Meixner was ordained Dec. 30 before an intimate gathering of family, friends and congregation at All Paths to God Church.
Although a culmination of years of study and hard work, for Meixner, the accomplishment was seen as only a beginning.
"My intention has and never will be about growing a church," she said. "My intention is to grow people by empowering them to find joy, peace and love within.
"The goal is truly transformation of the individual. We change the world basically by changing ourselves," Meixner said.
The Revs. Marilyn Earhart and Kathryn Knox officiated the ceremony by sharing heartfelt stories and their personal sentiments about Meixner and her impact on people whose lives she has touched.
For the better part of 10 years Meixner was an active member of Knox's church, The Center for Spiritual Living in Tampa, where she learned the fundamentals of Religious Science, a trans-denominational faith embracing science, philosophy, religion and psychology.
Starting her own church a year ago was not something Meixner had ever thought she would do. The 57-year-old Sun City Center resident earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Va., in 1977, went on to Loyola University in New Orleans to receive her master's and became a licensed mental health counselor.
Meixner worked with behaviorally and emotionally disturbed children and their families for more than 25 years at Villa Maria, a residential treatment center run by Catholic Charities in Baltimore.
In 2000, she founded RKids, an organization that recruited, trained and recognized professionals working with difficult children. The effort required extensive travel.
While she was on the road that year, she came across something that was life changing, she said. Someone had left a magazine entitled "Science of Mind" on an airplane seat that she picked up and read to pass the time. Its message intrigued her. Even more, it stuck.
By 2009 she felt it was time for a change and began her quest for the ministry. She enrolled in classes at the Holmes Institute at the Center for Spiritual Living, and then completed studies online through Emerson Theological Institute of Elkhurst, Calif.
During this time, she did some private mental health counseling and relied on family members for financial assistance. It was truly a journey of faith, she said.
On Oct. 12 she received her Doctorate in Spiritual Studies and Ordination in Religious Science but postponed the ordination until now to wait for her family, especially her parents, David and Gretchen Meixner, to be present.
Meixner is known for her sense of humor and the ease with which she helps others. Her philosophy of taking full responsibility for what one creates in life resonates throughout her congregation.
"Knowing Sue makes me a better person," said congregation member Beverley Paulsen. "She's so much fun to be around. She's all about positive thought, kindness and leading an excellent life."
Dana Dittmar agrees.
"Being a member of her congregation truly changed the way I approach life," she said. "I've learned my thoughts, words and actions create whatever comes to me. When you know that, you can no longer see yourself as a victim of circumstances."
All Paths to God is a new thought church, which meets Sundays at 11 a.m. at the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce building, 1651 Sun City Center Plaza. For information, visit www.allpathstogod.org.