From Church Reports
Eupora FUMC knows firsthand the truth that God always provides. When faced with the loss of veteran Youth Minister Kelly Roberts Fenwick , the Rev. Trey Harper said the church responded in its usual faithful way.
“The loss of Kelly after almost three years of wonderful ministry was daunting. When she called me in June and said that she and Chap had both accepted jobs with DeSoto Central Schools, it was heart-wrenching for us all. They had truly become part of the family.”
That very day Harper started the church praying for the youth ministry. And before he could “officially” get the search started, church members were already making contacts.
“I know churches that search for a youth minister for years, so we were expecting to make some contingency plans to help fill in the gap,” explained Harper.
But God was already ahead of the curve as usual. Within just a few weeks, before Kelly even officially left, that gap was filled.
“As always, God acts in ways we can’t imagine and that are always for the best. That is what God did for us when we brought us Cody for summer.”
Cody Hardin, a senior at Mississippi State University and local boy, became the youth summer intern in July following the departure of Kelly.
“After five minutes of talking to Cody, I was silently singing the ‘Doxology’ in my head,” Harper said. “He has such an amazing spiritual grounding what I truly admire in someone so young. He has a bright ministry ahead of him.”
Hardin was only available for the summer, but it turns out that is exactly what the church needed.
“When Kelly came on board, we were really just starting out in this world of youth ministry. Our youth, until this point had been faithfully loved and shepherded by volunteers. But as the church had grown, so did the size and demands of the youth. It was really more than we could ask of volunteers. So with Kelly, we learned together and she really laid the foundation for a great and growing program,” Harper said. “When Cody came on board in July, it really was a great transition. He was able to build upon those strong bonds and relationships that existed in the group, but lead them into a deeper, more purposeful search for faith and biblical grounding. Kelly grew the group with grace and love. Cody was then able to be much more intentional about growing their faith. Thus enters the newest addition to the staff of Eupora FUMC, Chase DeNoon.”
Originally from Winona, Chase is a junior at MSU, with a passion for Christ and a heart for youth.
“Once again, the faithfulness of God and the determination of our good folks brought us an answered prayer in Chase,” said Harper.
Through the power of social media and church members who had known Chase and his girlfriend, Haley Morgan of Duck Hill, through the Emmaus and Chrysalis communities; Chase and the church connected and it just clicked.
“When we gathered together following our interview with Chase, it was unanimous that the adult interview team thought he was the one. Chase was very open about sharing the burden he carried for the influences and struggles that youth are going through today; and how he knew from experience that a deep and abiding faith in Christ was the only thing that could bring constancy in this ever changing world, I knew we had a winner,” Harper said.
“It was evident that Chase was the guy to help build on the foundations of Kelly and Cody,” said Chris Zirlott, youth parent and member of the team.
So now came the most important test of being grilled by the youth.
“Following the Meet-and-Greet with the youth, I met with one of our youth presidents to get feedback. And praise the Lord, they loved him too,” Harper said.
So on Aug. 11 at the annual Worship on the Water Service the church offered its appreciation to Cody for a great summer and welcomed Chase to the EFUMC Family.
“I had asked Cody to preach for this service and the sermon was love. Once again, God always puts the right pieces in place, ” said Harper
Chase has already hit the ground running in just a month. Continuing the Sunday morning and Sunday night schedule already in place, he restarted the Midweek Bible Study on Wednesdays.
“Youth need more than just Sundays if they are going to grow and learn,” said DeNoon, and the youth have really responded.
Chase also jumped headfirst into the 5th QUARTER Ministry and handled it like a pro.
“For the past two seasons, the church has hosted youth from the community following home football games. This is a ministry we are very proud of and Chase took it instantly. He has such a great connection with the kids. We know that, once again, God led us each and every step of the way and we are so very blessed to have Chase as part of our ministry team,” Harper said.
For more information about this or any of the ministries of Eupora First United Methodist Church, contact the church office at 258-2611, follow it on Facebook at Eupora First United Methodist Church or check out the website at www.euporafumc.org.