Part 3: Discovering church
Mike Hoback recalls that his church prayed for the local boy recuperating from a terrible accident, just as many congregations prayed. In 2002, nine years later, Scott Spence was appointed to pastor the church where Hoback is lay leader.
Blackwell Chapel UMC had recently begun a benevolence ministry for neighbors needing assistance with utility bills, food, medical trips, home repairs, and more. The congregation was ready for a leader to help them reach their potential in the community, Hoback said.
“Scott was very respectful of where we were at that point,” Hoback said. “He wouldn’t ask us to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. We worked together.”
The first-time pastor was thrilled to be appointed to Blackwell Chapel and Mahanaim, not only because both churches were within 13 miles of his home. “I couldn’t believe they were going to pay me to do something I loved,” he said.
As a child, Spence attended a Baptist church but “drifted away from the church as a teenager.” His wife’s parents were members at Mahanaim, where Scott and Diane were wed.
Before the accident, the young couple “didn’t make time for church,” Scott admits. After the accident, they visited churches and found a home at Robert’s Chapel UMC in Broadford, Va. There, Scott discovered joy in teaching Sunday school and working with the youth. He used his lay-speaker training to share his story with both religious and secular groups. He was encouraged by his pastors, the Rev. Bill Cahill, and later, the Rev. Ray Neese.
“I fell in love with the people. I fell in love with the church,” Spence says.
When he was invited to speak at an ecumenical revival, the feedback was so positive that Spence spent the next year realizing (and resisting) God’s call for him to become a pastor.
“I thought my scars would be a hindrance at first,” he said. “I thought about visiting sick people in the hospital who would think, ‘He ain’t much better off than me.’”
See Part 4: Play ball
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