Churches Sharing a Pastor

Pastor Julia Humenik in front of the altar of the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church.
Pastor Julia Humenik in front of the altar of the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church.

By John Fulton

Two Schoolcraft-area Methodist churches were in need of a pastor. Pastor Karen Wheat of the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church was retiring. Pastor Jim Stilwell of Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church was moving to another church. The two churches received the same answer: Pastor Julia Humenik has moved to Schoolcraft and will be the pastor for both churches.

This is called a two-point charge in the Methodist church. Pastor Humenik starts her Sundays at Pleasant Valley United Methodist, PVUMC at 9 a.m. and then arrives at Schoolcraft United Methodist, SUMC, in time to preach the 11 a.m. service there. She works from both churches during the week to accomplish what each church needs.

Humenik is originally from the Charlotte area. In a twist of fate, Rev. Wheat was Humenik’s pastor in high school. Humenik said, “In what would turn out to be a funny and fortuitous moment, Rev. Wheat told me that I should consider becoming a pastor.” Humenik did not give this prophetic word much attention at the time, but while obtaining her Bachelor of Arts from Albion she recognized her calling from God to be a pastor.

Humenik went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in May of this year. These two churches are Humenik’s first appointments as a pastor. She brings an excitement and exuberance to these churches that only a brand new pastor can.

Humenik says, “This has been fun and daunting to be the pastor for two churches.” A two-point charge is not unheard of in the Methodist Church, but she was only explicitly trained to be a pastor for one church at a time. The two congregations are aware she is new, green, fresh out of seminary and have been very sensitive to her time and abilities. Both congregations have welcomed her warmly and joined together to fix up the SUMC parsonage for her. She moved in to find it not only clean and fresh, but also with a stocked pantry.

Humenik stated, “Both churches have their own identity.” She will be working to help them keep their separate identities, but also to find common ground that they can join together on. They feel a bit like sister churches. Sharing a pastor will give the two churches an opportunity to work together at a bigger ministry by combining their efforts and passions.

“SUMC is a bigger church with a mixed worship consisting of traditional and contemporary music. SUMC is rediscovering its identity and finding new areas and directions to move into. SUMC has a growing heart for service, missions and going into the world. They are implementing a plan based on the Vital Church Initiative that began a few years ago. I have arrived as they are putting these changes into practice and this is an exciting time to be starting here,” Humenik said.

PVUMC is a smaller, tight-knit traditional church that is very caring, friendly, where members always pitch in to help each other. PVUMC is a very self-sufficient church with a strong focus on charity and missions. They are extremely open and warm to everyone that comes through the door, treating them as family. The church is out in the country in a beautiful setting that gives an opportunity to just enjoy that. PVUMC really values times of praise, reflection and studying the word.

Pastor Humenik invites everybody to come to one of these two churches and participate in worship and fellowship on Sundays. There are mid-week opportunities and bible studies also available. “Both churches are very aware that God welcomes all people and not everyone has to act or look the same to enter the house of Christ.” Humenik said. PVUMC is located at 9300 West XY Avenue and can be reached at 269-679 5352. SUMC is located at 342 N. Grand Street and can be reached at 269-679-4845.

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