Salem UMC in Bettsville gets new pastor

Jim Nevel recently was appointed pastor of Bettsville Salem United Methodist Church, and said the congregation there is excited about his enthusiasm to bring growth and community involvement to the church.

Nevel said he previously served as youth pastor at a Methodist church in Elliston and made the decision to come to Bettsville because he “felt more and more the calling” to serve in such a capacity.

Having studied theology at Lourdes College, Nevel said he is licensed to serve as a local pastor, but soon will begin studying at the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, which, with the bishop’s approval, would allow him to be appointed as an elder. The program, he said, takes between three and five years and requires him to spend one weekend a month in Dayton, while studying from home the rest of the time.

“I start very soon,” he said.

Adjusting to life in Bettsville, Nevel said, has been a great transition for him and his family. The community, he said, “has been nothing but absolutely kind.”

The church, he said, has a congregation between 42 and 50 members, and he is hoping to see growth under his leadership.

Primarily, he said, he’d like to expand the children’s program at Salem United Methodist and see “teenagers come back to the church.” Nevel said he hopes to add a movie night at the church for youths in the community, to “give them something to do,” and continue outreach efforts that already were in place before he became pastor.

For students at Bettsville schools, he said, the church hosts an honor breakfast during the school year for students on the honor roll, and also organizes a collection of school supplies for Bettsville students. Those supplies, he said, are offered regardless of a family’s financial situation, and are simply “there if the kids need it.”

“It’s all about the kids,” he said.

In addition to expanding the church’s involvement with Bettsville’s youth, Nevel said he also is hoping to affect other positive change in the parish. He said he refers to those plans as his “Jesus wish list.”

That wish list, he said, includes growing the church’s focus on prayer, participating in “back to church” Sunday and getting the congregation involved in Right-to-Life efforts.

Sunday, he said, a nationwide event is planned called National Back-to-Church Sunday, and Salem United Methodist is to be part of that effort. Services that day, he said, will be his first sacramental Sunday, and will be followed by a community potluck dinner. Nevel said a similar potluck takes place at the church the third Sunday of every month, and is for members of the congregation and the community.

“Everyone is welcome,” he said.

Also, a Community Prayer Garden has been added to the church’s property since his arrival, he said, to help bring about a stronger focus on prayer for church members, and signs to guide visitors to the church have been added through the community.

With the holidays on the horizon, Nevel said he is excited for the events planning at Salem United Methodist. He said a “Truck-or-Treat” event will be hosted at the church for Halloween, and he is hoping to offer a community meal the week before Thanksgiving. Also, Christmas services are to be expanded this year.

He said celebrations this year will include a Christmas Eve service, one on Christmas Day, and services on New Years Eve and New Years Day.

Nevel said the congregation has been supportive of his vision, and, after such a welcoming start in Bettsville, he can see himself having a long future with Salem United Methodist.

Services at the church are Sunday at 10 a.m., he said, with Sunday school starting 8:45 a.m.