Yesterday, following a wonderful service of worship at our own church, Centenary UMC, we had the great pleasure of joining with those at my home church, Christ's Community Church of the Nazarene, in celebrating the 30 years of pastoral ministry of the Rev'd. Dr. Garry D. Pate and his wife, Carolyn. Dr. Pate was, at our recent District Assembly, elected District Superintendent of the Southwest Indiana District of the Church of the Nazarene. August 22 was his last Sunday as pastor at Christ's Community, before beginning his new role in ministry. - After 30 years at Christ's Community, this will be a huge change for Dr. Pate and for the church, but we are trusting God for both, as they journey on with the Lord.
Suffice it to say, I was very glad to be in the area and able to join in his celebration at Christ's Community! (By the way, for those who are still confused by my current status, please see, below.)
Part of the celebration/farewell, included presenting to the Pate's a large scrapbook (assembled by Anita Tate), wherein individuals had placed pictures, cards, letters, memories, etc. - I am thankful to Anita for including me as she invited people to participate in this project, and I wanted to go one step further by posting on my blog the entry I made in the scrapbook. - It is as follows:
Everywhere I go, when speaking of Garry Pate, I refer to him as “my pastor.” - I remember, as a young teenager, the first thing that impressed me about Pastor Pate was his professional appearance. Pastor Pate’s appearance and manner engendered respect, not only for him, but also for the ministry. - That stuck with me as I sought to follow my own call to ministry.
Of course, there is so much more to Pastor Pate than professionalism. He is a genuine caring and supportive pastor. That genuine support has followed me from my days as a teenager to this day. I owe Pastor Pate so much. He has been there for me during critical times and times of major transition. I still have, both the coffee mug (which only holds tea!) with my name on it that he gave to me at my high school graduation back in 1987, and the pen with my name on it he gave to me when I graduated from Trevecca. Again, when I was ordained an elder, he was there with a card of congratulations. And when I was working on my doctoral dissertation, Pastor Pate consented to be my Field Mentor.
Pastor Pate allowed me to not only preach at “Eastside,” but also to serve two summers during college as Youth Pastor (the first, assisting Brent Poe; the second, on my own).
Upon my graduation from seminary, when I had sent my resume to our new District Superintendent, Pastor Pate asked if I had heard anything. I said, “No, but I have been told I probably won’t unless I call him.” He responded, “That’s probably true . . . Would you like for me to call him?” - The next day I received a call from the district office to interview at my first church!
After arriving back on the district, Dr. Pate appointed me on the District Sunday School Ministries Board, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he was influential in some of my other district appointments.
Over the years Pastor Pate has always been a person I could go to to discuss various issues and decisions. He has been my pastor, mentor, and friend, and I am so happy for him in his election to the district superintendency for the Southwest Indiana District. If he had to leave Christ’s Community, there could not have been a better way to do so.
May God’s richest blessings be with him and Carolyn as they journey into this new phase of ministry!
For those still trying to figure out my current status: My membership and orders remain in the Church of the Nazarene. Thus, Dr. Pate is my D.S. My status with the Church of the Nazarene is "Special Assignment/Interdenominational."
At the same time, I am very pleased to be the new pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in New Albany, IN. Thus. Rev'd. Charlie Wilfong is my D.S. My status with the United Methodist Church is "Other Fellowship/Denomination."
I am quite comfortable being identified simply as "Methodist," in as much as I am ordained in the Church of the Nazarene (a Wesleyan-holiness expression of Methodism, and a member denomination of the World Methodist Council), and I am a pastor in the United Methodist Church. On the other hand, I'm also comfortable being identified as "Wesleyan/Anglican" (which really amounts to the same thing!)!