Today, Abbi, Noah, Thaddeus and I begin our new season with Pea Ridge UMC in Huntington, W.Va. We have been blessed by their warm welcome and hospitality in this season of socially distant living. I’m excited to see what God has in store for us as we begin this journey together.
Growing up at Perry Memorial UMC in Shady Spring, I remember we would receive new pastors from time to time. When the new pastor came, my family and I would often wonder what the new pastor was like and, if, we had any similar interests. As I grew older and started to attend churches on my own, those similar thoughts would come to my mind with each new appointment or when I would try to meet a new pastor. What is this pastor like? Will we have any shared interests?
So, with beginning a new adventure and season of ministry and life today I know many have those same questions. What is this new pastor like? Will we have any shared experiences? In recognition of that, I felt it would be helpful to offer 10 simple, perhaps even fun, things to know about me as I begin this season at Pea Ridge United Methodist Church.
Here they are in no particular order:
- I am an ordained elder in the West Virginia Annual Conference. I was ordained in the Kentucky Annual Conference in 2017, but had my orders transferred this year.
- I believe the Great Commandment and Great Commission are not counter missional statements, but are the work of the church deployed to be the hands and feet of Christ. We are to love God, love our neighbor, and be the church in making disciples. You’ll also hear me say a lot that our purpose is to love God, grow in faith, and serve the Lord.
- I love sports. My favorite is baseball, but I will watch just about anything. I am a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and Carolina Hurricanes. For college, yes, I am a West Virginia University fan (hey, I am an alum), but I will root for Marshall (as long as it is not playing WVU).
- I believe that there is more that unites us in the church than divides us. I believe that the church universal needs to do a better job focusing on what we hold in common than focusing on what we disagree with one another on. That is the key to building ecumenical and deeper relationships with one another.
- In my previous career, I was a reporter and covered everything from high school sports to elections. My favorite interview was with Kevin Harvick in 2001 at Pocono Raceway. It was his rookie year and only a small group of us were interested in talking with him. One person, not me, wanted to spark some controversy in a question. Harvick caught onto that and walked out of the interview. I didn’t blame him and, as a result, I became a huge fan of his.
- I believe in the connection of the United Methodist Church. It is important for me to serve, as your pastor, on district and conference teams to help strengthen our connection and to learn how best we can be involved in the larger mission of the church. I am thankful that we have the connection, which reminds us that we are not alone and are truly apart of a larger church.
- I’ve had some interesting run-ins with celebrities in my lifetime. Billy Ray Cyrus, when I was a teenager, stopped me from getting kicked out of an amusement park in Tennessee. Security was not too happy that I tried to get close to Cyrus with a video camera. Cyrus said I was fine, and let me move on. As well, during the 2005 US Open in Pinehurst Tiger Woods shushed me for being too loud. Let’s just say … he was very firm with telling me to be quiet. I obeyed.
- I believe it is important for the church to be active in the community. We are not here to be a social club for like-minded Christians. We are called to go forth into the community to share the love of Christ.
- I love traveling to Israel and visiting the places where Jesus walked. My favorite place is the Church of All Nations at the Garden of Gethsemane. There you will find a large rock in the chapel, which we believe is where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest.
- I am thankful for this new season and opportunity. I trust that God is at work in this time, and we will go with God in a mighty way. I am looking forward to where the journey will take us.