Hey Ya'll! A Pastor's Greeting To A New Appointment.

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My old dorm-mate, author and fellow UM clergy, Bob Kaylor, has
written a recommendation for pastors going to new congregations to write a blog to introduce oneself.  Since I already have a blog, I figure we might as well do that here and get to the heart of the matter and extend my greeting to God’s Church at Bethelview UMC.  If you are like me, I suspect you are a bit curious about who I am and what I am all about (I’ve been wondering about ya’ll too) and that is probably why you’re here. I am really glad you stopped by to find out.

Since our family has been living here in Forsyth County for the last three years, I also suspect we all have some connections in common. I hope that will help make the transition easier for everyone. You’ll find me on Facebook and Twitter (@jedipastorken). I’m also on Linked-in too.

I know Pastor Don Underwood has done wonderful work in his time with you all. I suspect you have some great plans here in the next few for him and his family. My thoughts and prayers will be with them and with you in the weeks ahead.  I will continue to post through the coming weeks so feel free to stop by any time.  Grace and peace!

A Little on Work and School

I have been in ministry full-time for nearly 20 years.  In my first decade of ministry I served as a youth minister at Manchester UMC in St. Louis, MO, and then Gainesville FUMC in Georgia.  I began pastoring in 2004 at New Prospect UMC, then at Due West UMC in Marietta in preparation for starting a new church, Crossroads UMC, in Paulding County.  We came to Cumming three years ago where I served as Associate at Cumming FUMC.

I graduated from East Carolina University and I am a die-hard Pirate fan even though I rarely see them.  For my Master's of Divinity, I attended Asbury Theological Seminary.  Most recently, I have completed requirements for my Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary and will go before our conference board this fall to present my completed work for that Certification.

Just for fun, I've worked as a Lifeguard and as a Pool Manager.  I also worked as Assistant Manager for Carmike Cinemas while in college and watched free movies, and ate lots of popcorn and drank way too much Dr. Pepper.  I have experience in Broadcast media, Information Technologies, graphic design, and theatre production (stage). 

 If you think of any questions, let me know!  I'll be back later this week to share about our family.

A Couple of Significant Events

After talking with the SPR Chair at Bethelview, it became clear there are a couple of very important things that have impacted my life.  For certain, Heather saying "yes" when I proposed and "I Do" when Rev. Stratton asked the other big question are central.  The birth of both my kids and a number of family events also rank up there too.

However, in January of 2000, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had to have my right testicle removed.  I followed that up with 3 weeks of radiation treatment.  As the most prevalent form of cancer in men from age 16-25, I have found it vitally important to make myself available and to talk about both my cancer and the impact it has had on my life.  This past year, I was given the privilege of being the Honorary Chairperson for the Forsyth County Relay For Life.  My story was featured in Communicare, the publication for Northeast Georgia Medical Center in 2007.  It was featured again leading up to Relay for Life in the Forsyth News. 

More recently I have been diagnosed with Ischemic Optic Neuropathy in both my eyes.  That is the big fancy way of saying I have swollen optical nerves in both of my eyes.  I have lost nearly 50% of my vision (mainly the bottom half) and a good deal of peripheral vision as well.  As the bottom half of our vision is what we use for reading, I have had to compensate with the use of Closed Caption Camera Devices, reading glasses, cane, and large print.  My eyes have adapted to some reading but long periods on computers or reading, causes a tunnel vision effect.  It does impact my driving and though I am still legal to drive, I try to avoid driving at night and in poor weather condition as my response is slowed.

I have been asked to preach on July 18th at the opening session of Mission U, a joint missions conference hosted by the UMW and Missions Team of the North Georgia Annual Conference. Part of the focus is on how the church might more effectively be in ministry to people with disability.  This will be the focus of my message.

I don't always use a cane, just mainly in large crowds and on public transit.  I still hunt but how I do it is impacted and I have learned different approaches for compensating.  Hiking poles, for instance, give me stability and direction.

While I am a survivor and have a disability, these do not define who I am, nor do I feel they impact my quality of life.  Have they changed me and how live?  Without a doubt but I also know that I am a better husband, father, pastor and person because of it.  Indeed, all things do work for our good!

Please feel free to ask me any questions about my cancer and vision.  I tend to make jokes about both of them and because of my hobbies, the ironies are quite funny at times.  

Just Playing Around!

Trying to keep track of everything my family is into can be kind of daunting.  It seems like every few weeks or months, we change our interests!  Still, we each have things we share in common and some which send us into our own corners.

For Heather, reading is on the top of her todo list.  From classic novels to modern authors, she loves her books.  We both love going into used bookstores to see what treasures we can find.  We love HumpusBumpus and supporting this great local business.  I am so thankful Heather was born in the U.S. but if she’d had a choice, I know she would love to call the U.K. home and that has rubbed off on us all.  We began hiking together when we were dating, and share a love of the outdoors we’ve passed on to our kids.

 I will refrain from embarassing both my kids as much as I can.  Both of them will be enrolled at Forsyth Central H.S. this fall.

Logan is our oldest and was born in St. Louis, MO when I was a youth pastor there.   Logan just passed his Eagle Board of Review after many years of hard work and dedication.  He was recently awarded the Good Samaritan Award for his service at Cumming FUMC.  Logan is regularly working on EDM (Electro-Dance Music).

Jillian is our youngest and is quite active.  She loves to exercise and stay in shape.  She has a variety interests, one of the main ones being her creativity and art work.  One of Jillian’s pieces made it all the way to state this past year.  She enjoys running, biking, and swimming.  Right now, she and I are training and planning to section hike the A.T.

So that leaves me.  I am interested in nearly everything my family does.  It is fairly obvious that I am and have been, a huge Star Wars fan through the years and have been a member of the Hothlanta Rebels, fan club in Atlanta.  Even with my vision loss, I continue to enjoy the outdoors and continue to hike and hunt (yes, I can still shoot).  I hunt mostly things with feathers and turkey hunting is my favorite.  Reading has slowed down but I continue to do it when I can, though rarely just for fun.  

As it is summer, we all enjoy movies together.  It is one thing we usually can all agree on and we LOVE the summer movie season.  One of our rules on book adaptations is to read the book and then compare it to the movie which creates some great family times.

This list is far from complete and part of that comes from the reality that we tend to try just about anything once!  We look forward to getting to know you all and all that you have fun doing as well.


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