Alice Nkatha of Kenya has become the first Methodist elder to be ordained in Utah.
After attending theological college and seminary school in Kenya, she came to the United States to study psychology.
A family in Idaho shared their home with Nkatha while she earned her master's degree of education in counseling and human services at the University of Idaho last year. A Utah couple and their children are doing the same this year as she pursues a doctoral degree in psychology at the University of Utah.
Nkatha, 29, was ordained June 24.
"This has always been my dream," Nkatha said. "I have always wanted to work with people. I love helping people, ministering to people."
"This has been one of the high-water marks of this congregation," said the Rev. Ron Hodges of Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City. "This is, within the life of ministry in the church, the pinnacle. To share this with Alice and the bishop, who is a dear friend, and the congregation, is just phenomenal."
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church, headquartered in Colorado, ordained Nkatha at the request of Bishop Zablon Nthamburi from Kenya.
"I know the bishop in Kenya," she said, "and it was just very special, especially for Salt Lake City, to have someone from the University of Utah be the focus of the ordination."
David Brenchley, a former teacher of Nkatha's from Kenya, was able to attend and participate in the rite,
"I'm very proud of her," he said. "She had a dream. She is fulfilling it. That's the way we're supposed to do things," he said.