For the sake of discretion, call him Hank—just don’t tell him that he’s not a real pastor. He has been serving churches for 30 years and has never been busier than he is today. A calendar posted in the foyer of the church he serves bears him out: a 12-step group at sunrise, men’s Bible study at breakfast, women’s Bible study at 10:00, a clothing bank, a nursery, an after-school program for kids. Starting at 5:30, the church will host a big dinner open to the public, followed by events for all ages, including financial classes. Hank has to see a couple of folks in the hospital and iron out an issue with a trustee about the church bus.
He is not an elder, as the United Methodist Church refers to its ordained clergy, but a “local pastor” who was credentialed through a Course of Study program. The church has grown significantly during his pastorate: almost 300 people attend on Sunday.