Reflection

The call to ministry came as somewhat of a surprise in 2005. God was at work in our lives through a pastor and a small group at Wesley United Methodist Church. Wesley became a place to call home and a place to grow and teach Sunday School and learn about polity be serving on boards and committees. Several people and pastors confirmed God’s gifts for ministry and encouraged us to pursue a vocation in ministry. The clergy cross in the picture was a gift from that sweet little congregation when they received me as their associate pastor in 2008.  During that time, I had the good fortune to serve alongside a fantastic bi-lingual pastor and church planter Ramiro Lizcano.

In our second appointment at FUMC Springdale, I served with Stephen Cobern, Judy Van Hoose, and David Freeman. All of those persons were mentors, peers, and encouragers. What pleasure to serve with three different DS’s-Jack Wilson, Mackey Yokem, Bud Reeves, and even a former senior pastor Stephen Coburn in the Northwest District.

From there, God took us across town to FUMC Springdale also as an associate. In 2013 a door opened to full-time ministry at Berryville UMC, a place we all adored. Penny served alongside me there as a Children’s Minister. People there were so supportive of our ministry. While there, we were able to complete all of the required Course of Study program at Milsaps College in Jackson, MS. One of my favorite parts of going to school there was traveling through the farmland from Pine Bluff to Tallulah. Driving through farmland remains a favorite pastime of mine.

 

2016 saw us taking a mid-year appointment to an inner-city church in the Northeast District. It was my pleasure to serve with two outstanding District Superintendents who were a tremendous help toward becoming a better human being and a better pastor. Susan Ledbetter helped me to navigate a very challenging four months at Paragould. JJ Galloway was instrumental in helping me to pursue a degree that allowed me to apply for a change in clergy status. The congregation I served there was so gracious to let me go to school and serve the church.

In 2019, when we got the tap to move to Marvell, my current DS, Mark Norman, helped us to transition into the community and district. Mark supported my completing the degree program that allowed applying for Associate Membership. I found in him a good mentor and a deep spiritual well.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention all of the administrative assistants in the churches I served. Those persons are instrumental in keeping the train on the rails at every appointment. They know who needs a visit from the pastor, who is in the hospital, and where the landmines are in a given appointment. Every district office had an outstanding administrative assistant that not only support the DS but are great resources for pastors when they hit a snag.

In every place we serve, I continue to build relationships with other ministers of the conference. While I wrote this article, I enjoyed a long phone call with a friend in the ministry for an hour and forty-five minutes. Justin is someone that God placed in my life back in 2008, and we’ve remained friends all this time. His wife, Susan, was my DS for a time. I value the connectional system that means wherever United Methodists meet in Arkansas; you will always find someone you know.

Ministry is a journey, not a destination. When you travel, it’s essential to be open to the experience and not be afraid to venture off the beaten path. If you take your time, you might meet a new friend along the way. Ministry never happens in a vacuum. Ministers are birthed and forged in the work of the faith community. When we began the journey, it was difficult to leave a place. Now we approach each subsequent reassignment as an opportunity to enlarge our extended family and circle of friends.

Every person in every appointment has contributed to the shared ministry that we share as baptized believers. It may be my name on the Bible, the Credentials, and the Book of Worship, but the ministry is a gift from God. Being a pastor is not something I do for a living; it is a way of life that happens to allow me to pay the bills. None of this would be possible without God’s call, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. None of this is to say, “Look what I have done.” No, this is me jumping up and down, shouting, “Look what God did!” Every church that I ‘ve served is present in this picture. To God, be the glory.

Paul said it best,

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

We cannot rest on our accolades because we are building a legacy. A legacy of people who are sold out, prayed up, on fire, bearers of the good news of Jesus Christ. Let’s come together to worship, learn, and work shoulder to shoulder in the building of God’s kingdom. It may read Marvell or Lexa UMC on the sign, but it’s God’s people at work in Christ’s church, all for the glory of God.




Pastor Kenny