Kathleen is a native of Orlando, Florida and received her BA in Christian Education from Pfeiffer University in 1979. Following graduation, Kathleen served three churches in Albemarle, Morganton, and Charlotte as an educator with a primary focus in youth ministry and adult and family life. Kathleen completed an M.A. in Community Education through Appalachian State University (1986) and fulfilled the educational requirements to be consecrated diaconal minister of the United Methodist Church through a unique partnership between Pfeiffer and The Methodist Theological School of Ohio in 1995. Kathleen to returned to her alma mater in 1997 to become the first full-time Director of the MA in Christian Education at Pfeiffer University. This unique program, one of only two designed for working adults, grew to be the largest MA program offered throughout the UM system. In 1998 Kathleen was ordained Deacon in Full Connection and devoted her energy in pursuit of a seminary who would partner with Pfeiffer to offer deacon education for working adults. After eight years, The Center for Deacon Education launched in 2006 as the result of the signature partnership between Pfeiffer and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., that has prepared more deacon candidates than any other program in the UM system. In 2010 the MCE degree was expanded to become the Master of Arts in Practical Theology degree program and offers tracks in four areas of specialized ministry that include age level ministries, pastoral care, mission/evangelism, and leadership/administration. As the Center for Deacon Education continued to grow, another groundbreaking partnership was launched between Pfeiffer, Wesley, and Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Charlotte Campus so that United Methodist students pursuing elder ordination could also achieve this goal as a working adult.
After 18 years of serving the local church and 21 years in extension ministry with Pfeiffer University, Kathleen officially retired on June 30, 2018. “I hoped that coming home to Pfeiffer would offer me the opportunity to connect the two institutions that had profoundly shaped my life. I have grown so much through this experience and am grateful for every step of this journey that I know will continue to shape my life and ministry for the rest of my life.”
Kathleen shares life and ministry with her husband, Ed Kilbourne, singer/storyteller and folk theologian, and they make their home now in Englewood, Florida. They are the proud parents of three wonderful daughters and are enjoying the blessings of six grandchildren.