First Christian Church pastor reflects on anniversary
Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 30, 2015
Judging by the amount of titles she has held over the years, Dowagiac’s Melody Wallace has never been afraid to learn something new.
Since becoming a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church over 30 years ago, Wallace has been constantly challenged to take on new roles within the churches she has served, requiring her to pick up different skills along the way. From leading sermons to hosting wellness seminars, the registered nurse is always finding new ways of sharing the power of faith in the community.
The largest of these opportunities came to the member of the Dowagiac Seventh-day Adventist Church last summer, when she was asked to become a pastor. However, the request came from an unexpected source — the congregation of Dowagiac First Christian Church.
Earlier this month, Wallace celebrated her one-year anniversary as the leader of the Oak Street church. The Dowagiac resident took over the pulpit from Noel Wilton, who left First Christian last July to become pastor at a church in Petersburg, Alaska.
“I think it’s been a good fit for them [the congregation] and it’s been an opportunity for me to do things I’ve never done before,” Wallace said about her year as pastor.
Besides the responsibility of writing and delivering sermons every Sunday morning, her position has also given her the chance to preside over her first wedding, as well as several funerals over the past year — all of this while serving as the faith community nurse with Dowagiac Seventh-day Adventist.
Growing up on the East Coast in LeRoy, New York, Wallace has spent much of her life combining her years of experience in nursing with the teachings of her faith, she said. Moving to Dowagiac in 2007 with her husband, Preston, Wallace quickly became involved with the local Seventh-day Adventist Church, leading wellness classes designed to help people with issues like weight loss or diabetes.
“I love learning,” Wallace said. “I have a library at home that my husband hates packing up every time we move.”
It was through her community work with the Seventh-day Adventist Church that Wallace became acquainted with several members of First Christian. When the church’s out-going pastor recommended Wallace as his replacement, the church members decided to bring her on board, despite the fact she hails from a different denomination, she said.
In spite of these differences, Wallace and the members of First Christian are united in their commitment to connect with the members of the Dowagiac community and help improve the lives of others through their work, the pastor said.
“Faith is about more that doctrines,” Wallace said. “It’s more about connecting with people. It’s about giving them hope and encouragement, and letting them knew that God is with them, no matter what their circumstances are like at the moment.”