by Lisa Tome
If the members of West Nottingham Presbyterian Church want to see faith in action, their new pastor is a shining example. Pastor Donna Frischknecht Jackson almost didn't take the job she was offered leading the congregation. In fact, she turned down the job initially.
Before the ministry, she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and worked her way up the ladder of a jewelry magazine before becoming editor.
Her life took a turn and she changed direction. "All these
leaps of faith didn't come easy. And they always came from God," she said.
She was ordained following graduation from Princeton Theological in 2007. Her first pastoral assignment came a few months after graduation. She worked at First United Presbyterian in Salem, New York, for five and a half years. In 2013, she took a job serving at a multi-faith church in Duchess County, New York. She stayed there for a year and then realized she was meant to be a Presbyterian minister and work in a rural area. "I almost lost my faith in that year," she said.
She then searched on the internet for a church in need of a leader.
She found WNPC but had many questions. In March she wrote a letter expressing interest in the job. She had a phone interview about eight weeks later. She came to the area for an in-person interview in July and was notified a short time later that she was selected.
Before the interview, she scoped out the area. "It just felt right. We really like the area," she said. "It was better than we prayed for."
When the offer came, she turned down the job.
"I initially said no. We have real estate and there is no parsonage here. I struggled. This time, I caved in to fear. I actually said no and then felt sick to my stomach," she said.
Pastor Donna and her father visited the area again after she turned down the job. It was then that she decided to contact the church to see if she would again be considered. "I reached out to them and it all worked out. They (the church hiring council) were feeling the same way. They had not taken action to move forward. That was a miracle. It was a faith journey, a lesson I needed to learn about trusting God," she said. Her husband got a job in his profession as a truck driver and they found a rental home near the church.
"It makes this position all the better. I almost missed out on all the amazing things that God had for me," she said. "This faith lesson is a bigger part of this church, growing in faith and trusting God."
She began working in the church in late October. She replaced temporary supply pastor, Rev. John Potter, who served the church while they searched for permanent minister.
WNPC has about 80-100 people who are attending the Sunday services at 10 a.m. Sunday School is at 10:15 a.m. Youth group meets Sundays at 5:30 p.m. The church also hosts luncheons the second and fourth Tuesdays and dinner the second Wednesday of each month.
Pastor Donna is looking at ways to add more community outreach and is considering Bible studies in the new year.
"The attendance here has increased. There is a lot of warmth here. They understand what ministry is. They are here to grow in the word and to serve. I am not having to educate them on that," she said. "These are really good people. Their hearts are in the right place and they are very prayerful."
In a decade, West Nottingham Presbyterian will celebrate its 300th anniversary.