IT WAS A BUSY FIRST WEEK for Holston pastors appointed to new churches this year. Yet many found joy amidst the transitions and hard work.
The Rev. Catherine Nance, senior pastor at First United Methodist of Church in Maryville, Tenn., said she was “exhausted, but a good exhausted” after preaching her first Sunday on July 6.
“I was glad that they got to see all three of us,” Nance said, describing how she and her co-pastors, the Rev. Sarah Slack and the Rev. Parker Benson, rushed between three worship services, two of which are simultaneous.
“It was breathless … running down the hall … handing off mics … coming up and down stairs … getting in and out of robes,” Nance said.
Later in the day, Nance said she was “touched” to see how many people returned to the church after morning worship to attend an afternoon ice cream social. She’s also enchanted by the many flowers planted by church members on the parsonage lawn.
“I’ve got a beautiful backyard that I never had, with a swing,” she said. “I feel like a Southern belle.”
The Rev. Anthony Burns arrived at his first-ever appointment at McDonald United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Tenn., to find a congregation enthusiastic about his young age (28) and experience.
“They felt like I brought a freshness to the church,” said Burns, who was praised for his first sermon, “The Lord will Provide,” based on Genesis 22:1-14.
Burns said he was grateful for his experience as a ministry director at two Knoxville churches (Bearden and First UMC). “I get to bring perspective to a smaller church that wants to do something new and exciting.”
The Rev. Will Shewey is beginning an appointment he has dreamed about and felt a strong calling to for years. After five years at Salem United Methodist Church, Shewey is beginning a new church in Kingsport District.
His daily routine is different from what he’s used to. “I don’t have hospital calls because I don’t have a congregation.” Instead, Shewey is selecting and meeting with leaders of small groups, which will ultimately help him develop leadership for the new church.
“This will be a congregation to reach all people, to reach those who are left behind by other churches, to reach the people that others don’t see,” Shewey said.
Although the church doesn’t have a permanent home yet, Mafair United Methodist Church has offered a temporary dwelling. The first worship service will begin Sunday, July 27, at 4 p.m. in Mafair’s fellowship hall.
“I’ve just started to put that worship service together, and people are already calling me to get involved,” he said.
The church that Shewey left behind is now led by the Rev. Lew Kizer. His first Sunday at Salem UMC was a doozy, with three worship services and Vacation Bible School kick-off all on the same day.
However, Kizer said his congregation appreciated his use of “welcome liturgy” in his first Sunday services, a new experience for them.
Kizer also enjoyed getting reacquainted with a pastor friend. Kizer was in the same ministerial probation class with the Rev. Tom Hancock, who recently relocated from Harrison United Methodist Church near Chattanooga to Cassidy United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tenn. Now that they’re in the same area, Kizer and Hancock joined for a 16-mile bike ride on July 4.
“One great thing about being a United Methodist pastor is that you can go to any town and have an instant connection with someone you know,” Kizer said.
The Rev. Aaron Atchley had a difficult move from Hales Chapel/ Kathleen Memorial United Methodist Churches in Narrows, Va., to his new home at Elk Garden/ First United Methodist Church in Honaker, Va.
“The physical demands of moving are hard enough, but it’s emotionally difficult to say goodbye,” Atchley said. “The two congregations that I served for the past two years had become our church family. In addition, it has been especially difficult for Anna and Abby [his daughters] to say goodbye to their friends and stressful to know that they will start over at a new school, new churches and new soccer teams.”
Yet the Atchley family was grateful for the moving help extended by church members on both sides of the journey. “The churches also shared with us a potluck dinner after the truck was unloaded. It was affirming and uplifting to be welcomed so warmly.”
Atchley said he’s excited about this “new chapter of my life and ministry” and “anxious to get to know the people who I’ve been called here to serve.”
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.