HAMPSTEAD — Presiding over congregations at two churches can be daunting enough.
But the Rev. Laura Lee Wilson also squeezes in the role of spiritual guide to 1,200 Western Maryland College students.
Wilson is pastor of Shiloh and Dover United Methodist churches and campus minister at the college. The reverend can manage the dual role because she's committed to "sharing the good news."
The PersianGulf war has had an impact on the spiritual needs of people in Wilson's congregations and on campus.
"People are struggling with moraland ethical views about war," she said. "They have a lot of theological questions about what is just and moral."
Wilson said she can'tnecessarily provide the ultimate answer. Instead she offers support and guidance.
"I help individuals come up with their own decisions," she said.
As pastor of the two-church charge, she especially likes to preach messages from the first four New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
"These Gospels relate the teachings ofJesus and how they apply," she said.
Sermons give her opportunities to explore deeper into scripture.
"It feeds my spiritual growth," she said.
Wilson's Sunday schedule includes rising at 5:30 a.m.to review scripture passages and her sermon. At 9 a.m. she preaches to about seven people inside the 30-member Dover Church located 11 miles east between Butler and Reisterstown in Baltimore County.
Worship at Shiloh begins at 10:30. Afternoons are devoted to hospital andhome visitation and meetings. Twice a month, she conducts evening chapel services at Western Maryland College.
Wilson described Dover,founded in 1842, as having a "sense of community," while 108-year-old Shiloh is friendly with a lot of talent and "sense of family" and an active congregation.
Weeknights are busy, too, with church committee meetings, pastoral counseling or advice for college students.
Wilson has been campus minister at WMC for 3 1/2 years. She is coordinator of the Religious Life programs at the college. She assists student religious organizations.
The mix of religions represented on campus is diverse, and includes Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist and Muslimfaiths.
There are seven recognized student religious groups. Wilson serves as a resource for students pursuing religious vocations. She also supports other student groups, too, such as the Black Student Union, the Lesbian and Gay Student Alliance and the WMC Coalition forPeace and Justice.
The reverend also provides pastoral counselingto students and spiritual leadership in worship twice a month.
Wilson is the third of four children born to the Rev. Joel W. Cock and his wife, Blanche, of New Brighton, Pa. The family moved to Carroll in 1950 when Joel became pastor of the Westminster First Church of Godon Center Street. He also taught history and was librarian at Manchester High School.
Following graduation in 1962 from Westminster High School, Wilson trained as a legal secretary at Baltimore Business College and worked at Hahn's of Westminster and as a C & P Telephone Co. service representative.
She married and had two daughters -- Shari, now 21 and a Hood College senior, and Becki, 18, a North Carroll High senior.
"I was a full-time mother," she said. "I love to dothings with my daughters."
But her course was to change.
Around 1975, when she was a member of Westminster Methodist Church, Wilsonsaid she began feeling a call to ordained ministry.
"I tried to talk God out of it," she said. But within two years, "doors opened andevents affirmed my call."
After a year at Carroll Community College (then located in Catonsville, Baltimore County), Wilson graduated from WMC in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in religious studies. Wilson commuted to Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., for three years to earn a master's of divinity degree in 1987.
She served as a student pastor at Flohrville and Gaither churches in Sykesville and was appointed to Shiloh-Dover duty in 1986.
Wilson said she hopes to pursue a doctorate degree.
The reverend still places a high priority on spending time with her daughters. In other spare moments, she enjoys playing the piano, walking and baking.
She's also involved in "A Shared Journey," a Baltimore Conference clergy group that writes and performs songs and liturgy.