- Published on Sunday, 22 July 2012 23:25
- Written by Super User
300 Harper Avenue • Carolina Beach, NC
Shawn Blackwelder is the new pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, but he’s not new to Carolina Beach. He and his wife, Cheryl, lived here for a couple of years when they were first married 17 years ago. “We loved it,” he says, “and we’re excited to come back. I literally jumped for joy when I was told I was being assigned to St. Paul’s! Carolina Beach is a great community already, and it has so much potential.”
Shawn and Cheryl have added to their family since they first lived here.
They have a 10 year-old daughter, Elena, who will be entering Murray Middle School in the fall. Having a child, he says, makes him very aware of the importance of ministry with children and youth…and their families. “I know that parents and caregivers usually want the best for their kids, for them to grow and learn and fulfill their potential. A good church can do a good job at that. But the parents and caregivers need those things, too. If we want to take care of kids, we have to care for the whole family, no matter what kind of family that might be.” He added that he was impressed by the resources St. Paul’s had for ministries with young people, and hopes they will be put to good use.
It isn’t all about getting people to come to church, though. Blackwelder believes that it’s also about getting the church into the community. He relates that Al Gwinn, the bishop in eastern North Carolina, once said that some churches are like someone with a very expensive fishing boat with all the best rods and reels and equipment, but then they sit in the boat and say, “Okay fish, come on in!” rather than going where the fish are. Shawn believes the church needs to be out in the community, having a positive effect on their neighborhoods, schools, and businesses.
“You need to go where people are, like Jesus did” he says, adding that at his previous church he went so far as to start up a small group study at a local pub. “It might seem at first like an odd place to talk about God,” he says, “but I was amazed at the spiritual depth and honesty of the discussions we had there.” He says that you’re almost as likely to find him working on his sermon at Port City Java as you are to find him working in his office.
Blackwelder grew up in Frostproof, a small town in Central Florida. “There’s a lot of freshwater fishing there,” he says, “but I’m looking forward to learning how to fish in the ocean.” He earned a degree in Business Administration from Webber International University, and he worked in banking, parking management, and insurance before being called to be a pastor. After entering the ministry in 1999, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University Divinity School. “Duke was a great experience for me,” he says. “We talked a great deal there about finding your story within God’s big story, and I think that’s what most people are looking for: how their life fits into a larger purpose and meaning.”
Want to know more? Worship at St. Paul’s UMC is Sundays at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.