Drew Christian has already put his faith in the Rising Sun community. Now, Christian hopes those at Janes United Methodist Church will put their faith in him. Christian, 46, has been named the new minister of the church. He and his wife, Debbie, and their sons, Nate, 17, and Matthew, 13, moved to the town last week. Christian is replacing Gil Clark who has served the church for a year. The reverend brings an extensive educational background time as a teacher to the post. He earned a bachelor's degree from Elon College in North Carolina followed by a master's degree in English. He started his career as a teacher. He taught high at Woodbridge High School as well as Salisbury University and University of Maryland - Eastern Shore.
While teaching, he was called to the ministry. He worked as a student pastor at Asbury United Methodist in Salisbury and began working toward his Master's of Divinity at Wesley Seminary in 2000. He then worked at Mt. Herman and Bethel UM churches in Salisbury, followed by seven years at Gethsemane UM church in Seaford, Del. His most recent assignment had him ministering to three churches - Wesley, Raum, and Rock Hall on the eastern shore, for the last four years. He is currently also pursuing his doctorate at Bethel Seminary in Michigan. He expects to earn that degree, in leadership, within in the next year. "I wanted to preach, teach, and lead at a church with potential for great growth," he said.
"People are ready. They recognize the fact that (former pastor) Rev. Jim (Jones)
is retired and moved on."
He began his tenure at Janes on July 1. He'll first lead a service July 7 at 10:30 a.m. and they will be followed by a luncheon. The following day, the church's Vacation Bible School starts. "We're going to jump in head first, raring to
go," he said.
He already jumped in head first, personally. He explained that buying a home in Rising Sun was a big step for he and his family. "We never had a housing allowance. We always had a parsonage," he said. He said buying the house in town gives the family a chance to build equity. But he's also hoping to send a message to the parishioners.
"I wanted the church to understand it's not a short-lived event. My son won't graduate for five years. We're here for the long run," he said. He would also like to get involved in coaching. He is hoping to work with the Rising Sun High soccer program. "I know soccer and I enjoy it," he said.
"We want to be part of a community and be here for what in our head is 10 years or more. That's not unrealistic if things are growing. This church has everything it needs to grow," he said.
Under Reverend Jim Jones, the church was a success. In the wake of his retirement, some people have left the church.
"It's certainly my hope that people come back here that were disenchanted. The greatest form of evangelism is word of mouth," he said. "My gifts are preaching, teaching, writing, and leadership. That's what I bring."
He also brings another valuable asset - his wife.
"My wife is very much a team with me in ministry. She is very involved in ministries and missions...She'll be here (at the church) not as much as I am, but almost as much. Her gift is hospitality. She doesn't preach," he said.
He said he has already set some goals. He plans to work with what he calls the "fantastic" church staff to make that happen.
"The biggest thing now is to get to know everybody, get comfortable. It's all new to us but our future will come out of that dialog," he said. "From what I've seen God do in the 17 years I've been in the ministry, you will find this a very
different place a year from now."
He is amazed that under Rev. Jim Jones’ watch, the church moved to a new building and was thriving. "I will help them to remember that God did it once. He can do it again. It's just a matter of believing. I want to make sure the focus is on God and the preaching is Biblical and scriptural, and applicable to daily life...They will see God do exciting, exciting things," he said. "My wife and I have had too many things happen. We know coming in it's for the long term. God is not sending us here to fail. We believe it's going to be very successful."