Through the glass ceiling, there is Sky. The Rt. Rev. Carol Foltz is known for many things. Those who know her best, know that she has always loved animals. Often at her side, you will find a faithful furry friend and partner. Two-year-old Sky (pictured above) is her current sidekick. Secondly, Bishop Foltz has successfully passed through her share of glass ceilings.
From an early age, Bishop Foltz discovered she had a capacity to care for animals. She also discovered that the human-animal connection works in two directions, benefitting both the human and the animal. In 2000, Carol trained a patient therapy dog, Sarah Grace, who was certified through the Delta Society. The Rt. Rev. Foltz served as a chaplain at Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest Baptist Hospital.
Dogs have also played a role in her ministry with children and camp. “I have often relied upon the perspective of the dog to communicate with children,” Foltz said. “Receiving a letter from the dog and from the dog’s view can be a comfortable and creative way for children to learn and express themselves.” Animals can have a calming effect, provide affection and be a partner in exercise.
In the glass ceiling department, The Rt. Rev. Carol Foltz became the first female ordained minister in the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America more than 40 years ago. She also became the first female bishop in the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America in June 2018.
As a single woman, her journey and experience has been different from some of the other Amazing Moravian Women in this series. Unlike The Rt. Rev. Blair Couch and The Rev. Patricia Finks Garner, Foltz was never advised that the appropriate response to her call was to marry a pastor.
“I grew up at Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, and there were plenty of strong, independent women who influenced me,” she said. “I never had the idea that women should or should not do one thing or another. I have never considered myself to be an activist or someone who was out to set new precedent.”
She was, in fact, already attending Moravian Theological Seminary to receive training in Christian Education and Moravian History when she received her call to ministry.
“My call was personal and undeniable,” she said. “I knew this is what God wanted me to do.”
Even so, in 1978 it was not at all clear what kind of opportunities would be available for her. Her provincial service includes being Director of Christian Education and Youth at the Board of Christian Education & Evangelism (the predecessor to what is now the Board of Cooperative Ministry). The Rt. Rev. Carol Foltz served as associate pastor at Calvary Moravian Church in Winston-Salem and at Friedland Moravian Church. She served as interim pastor at Rural Hall and Redeemer Moravian Churches. She was pastor at Covenant Moravian Church in Wilmington, NC and is currently pastor at Moravia Moravian Church in Oak Ridge, NC. In her experience as a single woman in ministry, she did feel it was more difficult for her to get a congregational call than her male contemporaries. She also expects there is still a disparity for women.
She describes her ministry style as contemplative and experiential. She wants to help people discover solutions by asking questions. You may not find her in possession of sermon outlines or speaking notes. She often uses a picture or other visual prompt instead. But she is first and foremost a student of scripture. She is in the scripture every day. She likes group study. And she likes to connect people and their current experiences to scripture.
At the Rt. Rev. Carol Foltz’ consecration as bishop, The Rt. Rev. Blair Couch made the connection between Carol’s love of animals and the bishop’s role as shepherd of the flock. Patience, loyalty, discipline and grace make The Rt. Rev. Carol Foltz one of our Amazing Moravian Women.