I don’t suppose I will ever forget at one point in my life, somewhere in my teenage years, telling my father repeatedly how there was nothing for a young person like myself to do in the area I grew up (outside the town of Jim Thorpe way up on the mountain), and so the moment I am old enough, I am moving to Philadelphia, where I was born in 1992. Luckily for me, that of course, never came to be, and Jim Thorpe remains my home. It is where I grew up, it is where I got my “edumucation” and it is where myself, my wife, and our 3-month-old child are building our lives together. In fact, just a stones’ throw up the road from us, is the very church where my wife Nicole and I met in 2007, Grace St. Paul’s United Methodist, my home church since I was just 6 years old. We were together throughout most of our high school years, and on August 28 of 2016, we got married. Then we were blessed abundantly on April 28 of 2019 by our beautiful daughter, Laya Nicole Meader.
My wife currently teaches 2nd grade for the Jim Thorpe Area School District at Penn Kidder campus, and I am serving as a pastor to 3 Methodist churches, Summit Hill, Coaldale, and of course Centenary UMC in Weatherly. We are both fortunate enough to be in vocations to which we truly feel called, and blessed to be a part of. We also are fortunate enough to both have professions in which schooling never really ends, (she earned her degree in Elementary Education from Bloomsburg, and I received an Associate’s Degree in General Studies from LCCC) and as I write this I’m currently enrolled in a Course of Study within the United Methodist Church to continue my education. Suffice it to say between 3 churches, schooling, and a 4-month-old baby, I stay pretty busy. However as difficult as it may sometimes be, that is not a complaint, I am truly blessed abundantly to be exactly where I am in my life.
So that’s where I am, but many who knew me years ago would say that looks drastically different than where I came from. I grew up in a Christian, religious, God-honoring home, and grew up in the church, my parents always playing a role in one thing or another. Much of my weekends were spent vacuuming the sanctuary, cleaning the bathrooms, or cutting the grass of our little red church on the corner of 5th and Center. This would all set the groundwork for where I am today and my calling into ministry. However, my story is not one of perfect obedience. In my adolescence I was, well, adolescent. I got into trouble, I made mistakes, and even had my falling outs in my walk with God. I had my faith tested and shaken as any young person will have as they begin to develop their own faith, their own questions, and even their own doubts. It wasn’t until one year at CFO (Camp Farthest Out) at Black Rock Retreat, that I had experienced the incredible transforming and healing power of God, that led me to discover my calling into ministry. Even then, the line from my calling into ministry, to ministry, was far from a straight line, I would continue to struggle, and wrestle with God (hey, I still do sometimes!) and it would take me quite some time to finally take the full plunge into ministry, into where I am today.
Once more I say, I feel truly blessed of the life God has given to me, of where I came from, and the opportunity he has now provided me, to be a part of these communities, and to serve in whatever capacity I am able. Just the night before I wrote this “biography” (I use quotations because much of it is probably more of a rant than a biography,) the Worship/Missions Committee of Centenary met to discuss, for the second time since my arrival in July, how we can begin to look outward into our communities, and how we may begin serving those around us who may be in need. I am excited to say, with full faith and certainty, that the Spirit of God is moving at Centenary, among the leaders and the congregation, and what we will be able to accomplish by the grace and power of God, only He knows. I’m just happy to be a part of the ride!