Dr. Karen Hastings-Flegel, Associate Pastor of Music and Pastoral Care


karen-hastings-flegel-2016Dr. Karen Hastings-Flegel joined the staff in March 2015. Karen earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Performance Practices (organ) at Stanford University. She also holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. In addition, she has a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Karen is passionate about music ministry and has served a number of churches throughout the Bay Area. Most recently, she has been at East County Shared Ministry in Pittsburg, CA where she was organist, director of music, choir director, bell choir director, and a youth group co-leader. Karen also plays the cello and occasionally sings solos. She was university organist, carillonneur, and adjunct professor of organ and harpsichord at University of the Pacific in Stockton from 1991-1996.

In 2011, Karen was a pastoral intern at Grace. During that time, she worked with Pastor Roger Reaber and then Associate Pastor Charie Reid in various aspects of ministry, including preaching, pastoral care, and teaching adult classes. In March 2014, Karen led a hymn sing at Grace, featuring the hymns in our new Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God. Karen served on the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song, which actually selected the hymns for the hymnal.

On September 24, 2016, The Rev. Dr. Hastings-Flegel was installed as the Designated Associate Pastor of Music and Pastoral Care at Grace Presbyterian Church. Rev. Hastings-Flegel follows in the footsteps of Pastors Emerti, Rev. Robert Williams and Rev. Charie Reid. Rev. Roger Reaber serves as Head of Staff and welcomes Karen Hastings-Flegel as Associate Pastor at Grace Church, which was established in 1958. The Rev. Dr. Hastings-Flegel has already been serving the church as Music Director for the last two years.  With her recent ordination and installation, pastoral care will be added to her previous responsibilities.

Karen Hastings-Flegel was born in Chicago, IL.  When she was a child, her family moved to Campbell, California.  From a young age, she was interested in music and began playing cello at age nine.  At age fifteen, she was compelled to play the piano which led to a passion for the organ and decades of music education and eventual ministry. Karen Hastings-Flegel earned her M.A. in organ music at San José State. At age twenty-two, she traveled to Paris to study with organist/composer, Jean Langlais.  That year culminated in a recital at Notre-Dame Cathedral, which included the world premiere of Langlais’s “Noël I” from Noëls avec variations, which is dedicated to her.  She returned to California, where she earned a D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) degree in organ at Stanford University. This journey afforded her the opportunity to study with many prestigious organ teachers, both in the United States and abroad.

Karen Hastings-Flegel’s rich experience includes serving as Organist at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, and Organist/Director of Music at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Concord, and also First Congregational Church of Antioch. During this time she took up choir directing which she continues with as part of her current role at Grace Presbyterian Church. “Choir directing changed my life by forcing me to talk in front of groups, transforming me from a painfully shy person to one who is quite outgoing.  I joined the church, started hand-bell and children’s choirs, and eventually became a deacon,” says Hastings-Flegel.

It was while taking a year off from directing choirs that she began to hear the call to pastoral ministry.  In 2004, Dr. Hastings-Flegel entered Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley with the goal of becoming a pastor.  She graduated with a M.Div. in 2010 and an M.A. in Biblical Languages in 2012 (emphasizing Greek). Her pastoral internships were at Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg and Grace Presbyterian Church of Walnut Creek. From 2008-2013, she served on the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS), which chose the contents of the most recent Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, which is used in Presbyterian Churches throughout the United States.