By Joe Rector
I’m taking this opportunity to write about someone special. Instead of telling a story from my past or writing a diatribe about politics or the younger generation, my goal is to honor to a person who has touched so many lives. By the time I finish, I hope you’ll want to know her as well.
Catherine Nance arrived at Beaver Ridge United Methodist Church about 5 years ago. At the time I was section editor for another paper and interviewed her as a way of introducing her to the community. What struck me immediately about Catherine was her captivating smile. She was the kind of person who knew no strangers. Her open heart and open arms welcomed every person. After I’d completed my interview, I knew then that I’d found someone whom I would hold dear for the rest of my days.
Catherine is a doer. No job is too difficult or menial for her. She jumps in to cook Wednesday evening meals at the church, serves the members who are present for supper, and even washes dishes. On more than one occasion, she’s been found setting up dozens of tables and a hundred chairs for the weekly get together. At other times, Catherine has rolled up her sleeves and spread mulch in flower beds around the church. All of these tasks aren’t included in her job description; they are additional to the services she provides as a minister, administrator, and counselor.
Those who have heard her speak can attest to the fact that she is a dynamic person in the pulpit. Catherine combines biblical readings with personal experiences and thought-provoking comments. Those of us in her church leave each Sunday service awestruck at the impact her sermon makes on our thinking and our daily lives.
Most of all Catherine Nance is a friend. We’ve laughed and joked; we’ve ached and cried; in short, she has opened herself so that I have felt comfortable doing the same. I respect and love her as a person, and I appreciate her help with my struggling and emerging faith.
This year, the Methodist powers-that-be decided to move Catherine. The congregation did not want her to leave us, and I suspect that she felt more time was needed to complete her work at BRUMC. However, she is to become the minister of First Methodist Church in Maryville.
The moving of ministers in the Methodist church made good sense in the 1940-1960s. Then, mainline denominations were increasing in membership, and ministers with certain skills were assigned where they could be of most benefit. However, these days, mainline churches are bleeding membership. It simply makes no sense to move a minister when the congregation is happy and so is the minister. A pastor serves as the stabilizing force in a church. Her presence helps the congregation to remain strong, dedicated, and focused. Moving her causes much more harm than good. Put another way, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
My emotions are more than a bit raw. I dread the departure of Catherine Nance. Yes, it’s selfish on my part, but she has become a friend, minister, and pastor to me and the other BRUMC members. We will miss her and hope that we remain in her thoughts and prayers.
Thank you Catherine Nance, for giving so much to the congregation at BRUMC. Our hearts are heavy with your leaving but joyful for the lessons you’ve helped us understand and the love and kindness you’ve showered on us.