Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Tinney Talk, July, 2008: Meet Your New Pastor
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Tinney Talk: Observations by Joe Dan Boyd
A NEW PASTOR AT TINNEY CHAPEL means the quintessential country church is in transition, reminds the Rev. Dr. Keith Boone, our District Superintendent, who confirms the Holy Spirit’s direct involvement in appointing Rev. Susan Gross: Called of God, but sent to us by the North Texas Conference Bishop and Cabinet. It’s the Methodist way, explains Dr. Boone, and it dates all the way back to the days of John Wesley, our denomination’s founder.
A LIFELONG METHODIST, raised in a small Oregon town, Rev. Sue is no stranger to country life or to small-membership church ministry. After earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, she taught school for five years. At one point, her rural school was so small that she had only one student, prompting a memorable radio feature by the legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey.
SHE WRESTLED WITH HER CALL TO MINISTRY after leaving education to become an insurance underwriter, asking God to define her call, clarify her call or call her more clearly. Eventually, she conceded that she had put her call on hold, lingering there until 2003, and that unforgettable day of rolling thunder. It was the voice of God, and this time there was no wiggle room: I want you now!
BEFORE HER 2008 GRADUATION FROM PERKINS SEMINARY, Rev. Sue was a ministry intern at St. Stephen UMC in Arlington, where worship attendance averaged about 90 during her tenure. There, she initiated a successful evangelism project, “Breakfast In The Neighborhood,” to attract more young people.
SHE HAS LIVED IN TEXAS FOR 10 YEARS, and was super active in lay ministry at Christ UMC in Plano before entering Perkins Seminary. Her parents, Vern & Nyla Gross, live just 17 miles north of Winnsboro, where they worship at First UMC in Mt. Vernon. Both Vern & Nyla were at Tinney Chapel on June 22 for their daughter’s inaugural sermon, based on the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
“WE THROW OPEN OUR DOORS TO GOD and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand: Out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace & glory.”