by Lisa Tome
Pastor Bert Jicha isn't sure how he ended up as the new minister at Janes United Methodist Church.
"I wasn't expecting this but I'm thrilled and honored to be here," said Rev. Jicha.
Jicha is the third person to be appointed to Janes UMC in Rising Sun since the late Rev. Jim Jones retired in 2012 after pastoring Janes for 28 years.
"It's been on my heart about Jim. I knew him for a long, long time," said Rev. Jicha. The two were connected through Evangelist John Hobbs. "I'm not Jim, but I'm a part of that. I'm cut from the same cloth - philosophically, theologically, we are the same. And in personality, we both love people. Jim and I were once visiting a family at the same time. I asked him what his secret was (to pastoral success) he said "preach the gospel and love the people."
Jicha, 59, graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in history. He then worked as an historic preservation planner in Kent County, Delaware. In 1991, Jicha's father, who was also a United Methodist minister passed away. Jicha and his wife, Jill, married a year later. Following that, Jicha began pursuing the ministry. He earned a Master's Degree in Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. He has also completed additional graduate degree studies.
"It (becoming a minister) wasn't a voice out of the blue. I believe I have the gifts for this. It was something connected with my father. This has been an interesting journey," said Jicha.
He started his ministry career at St. Andrews UMC in Salisbury. He then took a three point charge serving Whaleyville, New Hope, and St. Martin's churches. He then spent nine years in Cecil County at Cherry Hill and Baldwin UMC. The last seven years, he's been at North East UMC. As of July 1, he was appointed to take over for Rev. Drew Christian at Janes. Pastor Christian took Jicha's old job in North East. "I think Rev. Christian will bring a great deal to North East," said Rev. Jicha.
Pastor Jicha said that ministers have a say in where they will go. They send in a form to the cabinet and the bishop. "It's hard to say no to the bishop," said Jicha. Jicha now heads the district committee for finding new ministers. "We're looking for people who love people. If you don't love people, that will be a hindrance to the ministry," he said.
He said that Rev. Christian left positive things in his wake. "He set up a nice coffee bar and children's room and a strategic plan. For Jim and Drew, I'm grateful for their work. North East will benefit from the skills he brings to them (North East)," he said.
Rev. Jicha had, as of last week preached a half dozen sermons at Janes. "I've been wonderfully received with open arms. I bring a different style of preaching. I try to be energetic, uplifting, and optimistic," he said.
"Janes has been dormant. We're waking up now and it's very exciting. There are so many talented people here," he said.
He has all kinds of things planned - a Sunday for teachers and another tentative plan for Biker Sunday where he will bless motorcycles.
"I'm concentrating on getting our house in order and focusing on vital worship," he said.
He wants to bring that to the community as well.
He has planned community events which will focus on music including a Christmas cantata.
"I intend to be part of the community. We definitely need to be part of the fabric of this town. The church needs to offer guidance," he said.
Janes has a long-standing preschool, an active youth group and Fellowship of Christian Athletes presence. "We're going to be a big part of this community," said Jicha.
He and his wife live in Charlestown Crossing and are facing being empty nesters. Their two daughters are grown. Pastor Jicha said that will give him more time to serve Janes and the community.
"My whole ministry has built up to this point. I hope we have a good long time together here. We are keeping Christ first and reaching out to others to show the love of God," he added.