By John Fulton
Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene near Indian Lake has been busy working on a plan to reach out to youth and young adults in the Vicksburg area. Senior Pastor Dave Downs has recently recruited two new pastors, Rob Lash and Caleb Carr, to take the lead in these critical areas.
Lash will work with young adults. The age range for this group is 18 to mid- 30s and people with young families. He and his wife, Allison, have two children, Quinley, nearly 4, and Jackson, nearly 3.
Vicksburg has been part of both of their lives. Rob was born and raised in Vicksburg. He graduated from Vicksburg High in 2004. His parents are Ron and Pam Lash. Allison, originally from Mason, spent time in Vicksburg in the summer at the Indian Lake Nazarene Campground. The two met there in eighth grade.
Both graduated from Olivet Nazarene University. Rob in 2007 with a BA in Youth Ministry. Allison in 2009 with a BS in Physical Health. Rob’s career path began with a move to Columbian Church of the Nazarene in Ohio, where he was a youth pastor.
There were some other moves before returning to Vicksburg. Lash had thought he would become a full time pastor. The last move to Marion, Indiana, introduced Lash to a growing concept in ministry called “bi-vocational” in which the pastor has a secular job and also works in the ministry.
Lash thought he would remain in Marion for a while. But he said, “God had a different plan.” Lash was feeling a call from God to return to Vicksburg and felt God was working out the path when he received a call from Pastor Downs.
“I am glad to be back home and closer to my family where the kids can get to know the grandparents,” he said. The young adult pastor position is new for this church and will be challenging and exciting. Lash said, “The church is known as the campground church, but Downs wants it to be known as a community church that reaches greater Vicksburg.”
To reach young adults and families, Lash plans to start small groups that will meet every two weeks. This winter there may be some basketball followed by softball in the spring. Lash added, “Ministry entails living life together, sharing the love of Christ. My passion is families and strong marriages.”
Carr recently joined the pastoral leadership at Chapman in a full time position. He is the youth pastor and worship leader. Pastor Carr also has a Vicksburg connection through the campground. He started work in Vicksburg in May and married Sarah in June.
Like the Lashes, the Carrs both graduated from Olivet Nazarene University. Carr has a BA in religious studies and music and is now working on his masters’ degree in Pastoral Ministry.
Sarah is originally from California, where she grew up in the Nazarene Church. She learned of Olivet Nazarene through her youth pastor in Visalia, near Fresno. The two met while singing in the choir at the University. Sarah has a BA in Music and also took many courses in science towards nursing.
They met again briefly at the campground. “I had a random chance to play in a band at the campground. As my gig was ending, Sarah was arriving for her week-long gig.” Little did they know this chance visit to Vicksburg would turn out to be their future home.
Caleb had been a resident assistant while going to college. One of the resident directors was Jon Croft. One day Pastor Downs spoke to Croft looking for a recommendation to fill a position that encompassed worship and youth leadership. Croft recommended Carr.
Carr was just six months into his master’s program when Downs called and wanted to discuss a staff position. Carr had just bought Sarah’s wedding ring the week before while on Christmas break. He proposed to Sarah a week later in Chicago.
They visited Downs’ church a couple of times and even helped with worship before accepting the position. Pastor Carr said, “We felt welcomed right away. The church members cleaned our house, stocked our food pantry and even threw us a wedding shower.”
Pastors Carr, Lash and Downs would love to have people join them for a Sunday service, a bible study or one of their young adult events.