Trinity Church welcomes Jamie Kent as new pastor

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By Rachel Christian

When Jamie Kent took the pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ for the first time, many practitioners were still rubbing sleep from their eyes, others still recovering from New Year’s Eve celebrations the night before.

Kent himself was wide-awake. He had been preparing for this day. And when the new pastor began to preach, he quickly captured the attention of every church-goer in the hall.

“I’m a bit more high energy than what I’m sure a lot of the congregation is used to,” Kent said a week after delivering his first sermon at the Mount Vernon church.  “But they’re very happy with the enthusiasm I’m bringing. We’re all excited about it.”

The pastor comes to Trinity after serving a parish in Zionsville. Although he has served at about 10 different churches in the last 22 years, Kent said he and his 9-year-old daughter, Jamielee, consider Trinity their “retirement church.” It’s a long-term commitment, considering Kent is still a couple decades away from retirement age.

“My conference pastor thought I had the right skills and talents to really help this congregation,” he said. “From the time I first came down, I just fell in love with these people.”

During his time as a pastor, Kent has demonstrated a knack for revitalizing struggling churches. In 2005, he even went back to preach at his small home church where he grew up in Piney Flats, Tennessee. The congregation had shrunk to just 12 women, two of which were Kent’s grandmother and aunt. In less than four years, he grew the church to about 50 regular members.

The pastor said he wants to do the same at Trinity.

“Trinity used to be one of the biggest churches around this area,” Kent said. “A couple decades ago, they would average maybe 160 people on Sunday. Now, we’re down to about 60 or 65.”

Several of the church’s programs, like its Sunday School classes and Bible Study group, have fallen by the wayside over the years, and are now virtually non-existent. Kent plans to rejuvenate these groups and help them grow.

Trinity’s large amount of space has made it an ideal location for a local Boy Scout troop and Big Brothers Big Sisters. But Kent wants to see the space utilized for even more activities, for the church and the community as a whole.

He is also updating Trinity’s website and Facebook page to help improve communication between members and the community.

Kent is likely to stay busy in upcoming months as he shares scripture and spends time in fellowship with those around him. The pastor said one of his top priorities is to create a welcoming atmosphere that brings back old members and encourages new members to attend.

“If you’re an atheist, that’s fine. We want to get to know you; we want to love you. If you’re interested in learning more about this God we serve, then we’ll be happy to tell you. And if you’re not, well, we’ll still love you,” Kent said. “We just want people to know they’re welcome here, that everyone is welcome.”