MIFFLINTOWN - The Rev. James Wooster wants to keep the Aldersgate United Methodist Church true to its name.
On May 24, 1738, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, reluctantly walked in to a worship service on Aldersgate Street in London, because he felt his heart "strangely warmed." Wesley came to trust in Christ as his savior that evening, Wooster explained.
"My hope for Aldersgate is that we be a place where hearts are warmed and faith is found," Wooster said.
Sentinel photo by MICAIAH WISE BILGER
The Rev. James Wooster is the new pastor at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Mifflintown.
The young pastor who moved to Mifflintown in 2009 with his wife, Michelle, recently was ordained at the Third Street Church.
Before ordination, ministers serve Methodist churches as "local pastors" who serve just that one congregation; but once ordained, pastors gain the title of full elder, which means they take on the responsibility of the whole Church, Wooster explained. Ordained ministers also can perform the sacraments such as marriage ceremonies in other congregations, he said.
The Clearfield native served several Central Pennsylvania congregations before being transferred to Aldersgate, he said. While his interest in the ministry occurred at a young age, Wooster said he did begin serving as a pastor until 2005.
"My first inkling to pastoral ministry was in seventh grade," Wooster said.
He remembered the pastor in his confirmation class asking if anyone there would consider going into the ministry, and Wooster said yes.
"But I was a loud, hyperactive kid, and I didn't think that was what a pastor should be," he said.
In college, he considered becoming an English teacher until his first experiences in the classroom made him realize that the career just was not for him. One of his professors then suggested he consider the ministry.
After graduation, he worked for several years with therapeutic staff support, which intervenes for children with behavioral health problems both in schools and the community.
During this point in his life, Wooster said the hints toward ministry "got bizarre." People stopped him on the street to ask if he was a pastor, and a hotel clerk assumed he was a minister and gave him a clergy discount, he remembered.
Then during a Promise Keepers rally in Pittsburgh, Wooster said he felt God's strong call to the ministry.
When a rally speaker told all the clergy to stand up, Wooster said: "It was all I could do to stay in my seat. I heard God say, 'This is who I want you to be.'"
Since then, his ministry work has included more than just his congregations. Wooster said he has been involved in youth ministry since he first became a camp counselor in high school.
During his ministry at Aldersgate, Wooster said he hopes to help the congregation open its doors to the community. One of the ways he does this is by wearing jeans to the morning contemporary service.
"So often folks feel like they can't go to church because they don't have anything to wear or don't know what to do, but we want this to be a home to people, to have their hearts warmed and to find faith," Wooster said.
Family: Wife, Michelle of 3 years, a cat and dog
Education: 1996 graduate of Susquehanna University with degrees in psychology and English; Asbury Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 2005
Activities/interests: Ballroom dancing, reading, cooking and theater.
Worship times: Contemporary service at 8:30 a.m., Sunday school at 9:35 a.m. and traditional worship at 10:30 a.m.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
Ephesians 4:11-13, "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
This verse reminds me that it's not my job to do all the ministry of the church. My job is to help the people of the church step forward into ministry.