She body surfs and rappels tall buildings with a single bound. Is it superwoman? No. It’s The Rt. Rev. M. Blair Couch from Allentown, PA. And she did indeed rappel a 12-story building in May as a fundraiser.
Blair Couch is the 7th Moravian Bishop in her family line. She is, in fact, a double direct descendant of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf himself. Her parents, The Rev. Paul deSchweinitz Couch and Marian Blair McCuiston Couch, are third cousins once removed. So, The Rt. Rev. Blair Couch is both the four-greats granddaughter of Count Zinzendorf (on her father’s side) and the five-greats granddaughter (on her mother’s side). She’s a seventh and eight generation descendant.
She recalls three special moments of calling and revelation. The first came during one of the Family Night Dinners at Calvary Moravian Church in Allentown, where her father was pastor. She was just in 6th grade when missionaries from India, the Vitroys, were the guest speakers. She was so inspired by their message she felt called to ministry. Since women were not being ordained in the Moravian Church at the time and she didn’t feel called to mission work, she thought the only option for serving the church that matched her sense of call was to marry a minister.
A little later, she felt the Holy Spirit’s calling while a camper at Camp Hope in New Jersey. She remains Dean of Middler Camp there even today.
But then, she was in attendance at the Ordination of The Rev. Dr. Mary Matz, the first woman to become a minister in the Moravian Church in America. As the Rt. Rev. Ed Kortz gave Mary her charge, a new revelation came. “I don’t have to marry a minister, I can be one,” she heard in her head.
She attended Moravian Theological Seminary alongside our two other women, who were really the first generation of women who could accept a call to ministry anywhere, separately from their husbands. One of the other women in seminary at that time was
Carol Foltz, who recently became the first woman consecrated as bishop in the Southern Province. The Rt. Rev. Couch was there to give her the charge.
“When we were in seminary, I didn’t feel like we were forging new ground,” Bishop Couch said. “But there was uncertainty about how easily women who were not married to a pastor would get a call to a congregation on their own in those days. Everyone who had gone before was married to a pastor.”
But the call did come. Bishop Couch’s first congregation was Rio Terrace Moravian Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Her husband, Warren Gericke, is an engineer.
She served as interim pastor at four congregations in Canada, as pastor of the Edmonton Moravian Church from 1986 to 1995, and also at Calvary Moravian Church from 1995 to 2015. Today she serves on the Interprovincial Faith & Order Commission, the Candidacy Review Committee for the Eastern District, and the Episcopal-Moravian Dialogue Committee.
Stewardship is important to Bishop Couch. “I learned as a child to give 10% to my church and to give beyond that to support other ministries and my community,” she said. “Tithing has been very important to me and it is part of the counseling I provide couples.”
So, maybe The Rt. Rev. M. Blair Couch is superwoman after all. She most certainly is an Amazing Moravian Woman and we are proud to honor her today.