April was especially busy for one Queens tax consultant, who found herself also consulting a 350-member Manhattan Valley congregation on their spiritual lives as their newly ordained minister.
Eva Duzant made history last month at Southern Baptist Church, on 108th Street between Manhattan Avenue and Central Park West, when she became the first female pastor in its 90-year history.
Duzant was ordained on March 4 and is currently serving as an assistant pastor under Reverend Keith Roberson.
A native of Mobile, Ala., Duzant has been a member of the congregation at Southern Baptist for the past 22 years. She is a very familiar face for the congregation, so making the transition was smooth.
“She’s been sharing her Godly wisdom with us for years,” Sister Dorothy Matthews, a deaconess of Southern Baptist, said.
For Duzant, it was the natural next step of her work as an active congregation member and teacher in the church.
“You can want to [be a pastor], but it’s really a calling from God,” Duzant said. “Sometimes, we feel like we have other things to do.”
While she said she has always felt called to the ministry, Duzant spent many years doing other work. Before her ordination, she was a teacher for the church and co-wrote a children’s picture book, “The Crate,” in 2009. She is currently a tax consultant at E.G. Edwards & Associates and a student at New Brunswick Theological Seminary in Queens.
Duzant became more involved in teaching at Southern Baptist in 2001 after the death of a previous pastor because she “always wanted to praise the Lord,” she said.
She said that teaching is her favorite part of her work as a minister so far. “It’s like a flower coming to life, seeing souls come to Christ,” she said.
Roberson, who has been serving as pastor of Southern Baptist for five years, called Duzant a “well-respected member of the congregation.”
Southern Baptist congregation members said that it was about time for a woman to come to the forefront of the church.
“I think women need to be more involved in the teaching,” Paralee Feld, a member of the congregation, said.
But she also said that the gender should not be at issue. “I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman, as long as they are teaching me the gospel,” Feld said.
Duzant said balancing her new role as minster with her tax consulting job and her studies is easy because of her faith.
“It’s a life of prayer, a life of humility, a life of practice. It’s a wonderful life,” Duzant said.