As a pastor, Lee Zehmer is accustomed to challenges. It’s inevitable once you’re tasked with being a frontrunner of individuals, constructing relationships and offering hope and correction weekly from a pulpit.
It’s additionally inevitable when the time involves embrace a brand new function.
After 14 years because the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Zehmer has left his place to change into the transitional pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Excessive Level. His final day at First Presbyterian Lexington was on Might 31.
“It’s been an excellent and splendidly, wealthy 14.5 years,” mentioned Zehmer. “I actually do consider it says as a lot in regards to the church because it does me. It says the church is wholesome. It’s very a lot evident of the nice work we did collectively that I used to be right here this lengthy. Me leaving has nothing to do with the church.”
His leaving has all the things to do with what he’s heard from God.
“I started sensing what I had been capable of accomplish right here, I had completed and the Lord was calling me to do one thing totally different.”
The decision to one thing totally different has been a continuing in Zehmer’s life. Rising up in Newport Information, Virginia, together with his mother and father and two brothers, he by no means envisioned himself as a pastor. Whereas enrolled as a pupil as James Madison College finding out radio and telecommunication, his life path started to alter.
“Once I was in faculty, I started to sense the decision to ministry,” recalled Zehmer. “I had gotten concerned with the Presbyterian campus ministry. By means of these 4 years, the calling obtained stronger and stronger to the diploma that I utilized to go to seminary.”
He graduated from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, with a grasp of divinity. The primary church he served in was in Lexington, Virginia, the place he was the youth and faculty ministries pastor. In 1996, he moved to North Carolina to function pastor of Bethlehem Presbyterian Church. Zehmer was there for 9 years earlier than coming to First Presbyterian in Lexington in 2005.
Having lived south of Lexington, he knew of the town. Nevertheless, his solely actual connection to it was a typical theme.
“We had stopped by for barbecue earlier than,” mentioned Zehmer with a chuckle.
He would quickly study that Lexington had loads to supply together with a congregation that will welcome him, his spouse and three daughters in with open arms.
“My perspective going into it was that I’d be right here so long as I used to be efficient and so long as I felt like God had me right here.”
This strategy was a partnership that has spanned practically a decade and a half. Though excited for the brand new alternative, the bonds which have been constructed over that point makes the separation tough.
“I’ve liked this congregation,” said Zehmer. “After practically 15 years of being with individuals, you create actually great relationships. The connection between a pastor and an individual is fairly particular. They invite pastors into the very best highs of their lives however additionally they invite you into the worst of their occasions. The depth of relationship is exclusive and really significant. That’s what I’m going to overlook probably the most. These persons are my pals. I’m going to overlook them loads.”
At First Presbyterian Excessive Level, his new function will probably be a primary for him. Getting into a church whose pastor just lately retired, Zehmer famous that he’s doing extra than simply holding a spot till the brand new pastor is put in.
“It’s about serving to church buildings transfer from one pastor to a different,” she mentioned. “We’ll be doing quite a lot of course of work – the place have we been, the place are we, the place are we going? In arising with a brand new imaginative and prescient or objective that grows up from the grassroots of the congregation so after they started in search of their new put in pastor, they know what sort of pastor they’re in search of.”
Zehmer additionally famous the distinctiveness of being in ministry throughout this time of uncertainty.
“It’s a singular time in serving a church,” he mentioned. “None of us have ever been right here earlier than. It’s going to be quite a lot of trial and error transferring ahead. That is probably the most distinctive time of upheaval that we’ve had as a nation with this pandemic. We’ve all been pressured into studying new issues. It’s a making an attempt and thrilling time to be pressured into tips on how to do issues in another way. It’s totally different than what I’ve finished earlier than so it’ll stretch and develop me. I’m trying ahead to serving to the congregation transfer into the brand new factor God has for them.”
Whereas he’s transferring on to a different church, he and his spouse will stay within the Lexington space. Amid transition, this truth offers consolation.
“Lexington is a superb group,” mentioned Zehmer. “It’s been a beautiful place to lift our youngsters. We’ve liked dwelling right here and are glad we get to nonetheless keep.”
Kassaundra Shanette Lockhart is a contract author.
— to www.the-dispatch.com