In 2005, I knew that I needed a break from ministry to troubled people. I had been helping addicts find deliverance and a new life in Christ for nearly 30 years; and then my wife and I knew we needed to spend our focus closer to home.
With God’s permission being foremost, I resigned from the ministry I had started in Murfreesboro, and I answered an ad in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette for the position of “Staff Writer.”
After arriving for my appointment, I was ushered into an office to meet with the Publisher and the amazing Editor, Kay Rose. I was nervous to say the least. I had taken a journalism class in college years before that, but I didn’t know anything about the news business.
As I looked at Kay seated next to me and the Publisher across his desk from me, to say I felt intimidated is an understatement. Here were two “professional journalism experts,” and there I was… afraid…and “pretending” not to be.
I remember saying something stupid and off the wall in our conversation; I said, “I think I can handle this job of interviewing people for articles, after all I’m at the age where I am not afraid of what people think.” I mean…there I was “afraid” of what Kay and the Publisher were thinking of me.
Well, Kay Rose, Editor-Extraordinaire, took a chance on me and she hired me.
My first morning on the job she took me around the newsroom and introduced me to a “scary” bunch of journalists, people who have become dear friends over the years.
They all welcomed me (looking at me with that glare that says, ‘What in the world are you doing here?’). They must have sensed that I was thinking the same thing.
Well, then Kay introduced me to these two women sitting at computers in the very back of the newsroom. She told me these “scary” looking ladies were the Paginators.
I said ‘hello scary ladies,’ and then I found my new desk and immediately Googled the word paginator. Even with the help of Google I had no idea what those women did.
Well, let me tell you something. No matter what they do at the Times-Gazette, those two ladies have become some of my dearest friends over the years. People at the T-G called them The Sisters. I now realize they aren’t scary. Not all the time anyway…well, maybe sometimes.
As we got to know one another over my work assignments and our lunch breaks spent together, we learned each other’s stories. We talked about our histories and our families, and they seemed to like the idea that I was an ordained minister now working in the news business.
It wasn’t long and they asked me to perform ministerial duties away from work. I was asked to perform a wedding ceremony for a son and his girlfriend. I insisted on giving them marriage counseling before the wedding. And then I officiated at their wedding. I was asked to pray for family members and friends, and provide counseling and comforting for family and friends. Those people soon became my friends and family too.
I went out to visit with a mother who was suffering from cancer, and her husband who had lost a leg. That elderly couple soon became my friends, and I would make a point to go out to see them whenever I could. Then one day I preached at their funerals, and was with the family when we laid them to rest.
I was working there at the newspaper for several years when I felt God stirring my heart to get back into ministry. He was using The Sisters for that. I reminded Him that I was doing ministry as well as working as a staff writer.
And then He spoke to my stirring heart and said, “Doug, I know. I was the One who sent you there for that purpose.”
One morning I came into the office and was asked to go interview the new pastor at a Methodist church there in town. I called the church phone number and soon spoke with a friendly gentleman and we set an appointment time for me to come by the office so we could talk. That man who I went to interview soon became a friend of mine.
One thing stood out to me from our first visit together; he was an ordained Disciples of Christ minister pastoring a United Methodist Church. I went back to the office after that interview wondering if I might be able to pastor a Methodist church.
I mentioned that pastor to the City Editor. He just happened to be a Methodist lay preacher and the son of a Methodist pastor. He gave me the name of the UMC District Superintendent and suggested I give her a call.
I mentioned my interview with the pastor to The Sisters, and one of them said that the Methodist church she was raised in didn’t have a pastor at that time. She told me the name of the church and how to get there.
One day I took my lunch break and drove out into the country to take a look at this church. I pulled into the parking lot of one of the prettiest little white churches I had seen. Immediately I thought of the old hymn, The Church in the Wildwood.
I pulled up to a fence surrounding a cemetery that bore the same name as the church, and sat there in the peace and quiet of that country setting and I prayed. I went back to the office and called that District Superintendent.
In June of 2008 I became the pastor of Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church; The Sister’s family’s home church. I still worked as a staff writer at the T-G full-time, but I was also a part-time pastor.
In the spring of 2011, my Disciples/Methodist pastor friend, Dr. Tom Rouseau, died unexpectedly. Not long after my friend’s funeral the District Superintendent called me. She wanted to know if I would be willing to take Dr. Tom’s place as pastor at Cannon United Methodist Church, adding that to my already busy schedule.
I talked to my wife about it and we made it a matter of prayer, and in June of 2011 I added Pastor of Cannon UMC to my assignments from God. The Paginators…The Sisters…Mary Cook and Carol Spray, both played a big part in my desire to return to the ministry. I served as their “at-work-pastor.”
And then I became their pastor at Mt. Lebanon UMC. The Sisters, and The City Editor, John Carney, and the District Superintendent, Kathy Leimenstall, were all instruments in the Hands of God to get me where I am today.
God has used the prayers of all of my T-G family and my churches’ families to help improve my family troubles. Our daughter, Laura Michelle, is doing well today. Thank You Lord!
It’s been quite a journey… It all started with an ad in The Shelbyville Times-Gazette.
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