A New Pastor (Prayed for) Has Been Found
During Pastor Delante Jackson's first week, East Chestnut Church of Christ hosted two funerals. Pastor Jackson was asked to give one of the eulogies. During the service, he listened to the family's remarks and told the truth: "I don't know her."
Eulogies are for the living, for those in the room, and Pastor Jackson didn't know them either. But he elaborated on what was already said and spoke about coming together more. The family was appreciative.
A month into the job and Pastor Jackson has only had time to unpack his books in his office. His three daughters are situated in their new respective schools and preschool. His wife Shelly has found a job at Lutheran Hospital. Those were the priorities. The office can wait.
If Pastor Jackson were a baller, he'd be described as a gym rat. "Friday is supposedly my off day, but I never have one." He is admittedly tired, but he enjoys it. It's what he asked for. When Pastor Jackson devoted himself completely to the life of a pastor, he said he spoke it into existence, telling everyone. "I wanted to be full-time in the trenches, full-time with the stress--visiting members, funerals and weddings, etc.”
The young pastor is 33 years old and has been preaching for six years.
Jackson was raised in the church. He lived with his grandparents for the most part in Rockford, Illinois. His parents were in the military, stationed all over (Jackson was born in Germany).
He was steered towards preaching school by a church elder in Rockford, who made his young charge teach the hardest class of parishioners. "I thought it was the kids," Jackson said. "It was an adult class."
He was preaching at a church in Sulphur Springs, Texas when East Chestnut posted their notice for a pastor. The selection process was delayed when his grandfather passed away. A week later, his grandfather's sister passed. On the day of her funeral, his father died. Pastor Jackson eulogized them all.
"When God has something for you, you can't escape," Jackson said. "It just took me a while to get to that path."
East Chestnut Church of Christ, a predominately black church, started in a house where their church now sits, in 1947, but all of the baptisms were done at the all-white Church of Christ. It was routine for the all-white church to dump out and replace all of the water used in the baptism of a black parishioner, during the service. So, construction began on the East Chestnut Church.
Thomas Elliott, East Chestnut's treasurer and caretaker of 90% of the church business, has helped choose four pastors in his 33 years at the church, including selecting Delante Jackson.
"It was not an easy ordeal," Elliott said. East Chestnut was without a single, committed pastor for three years and the selection process for a new one lasted two years. The congregation chose a group of men for the committee. After a host of meetings, "we started praying. We didn't stop praying until we started the process." Elliott said.
"There's really nothing to do but pray," Pastor Jackson said, referencing how to prepare for the selection process. One of the East Chestnut's wants called for a pastor to be well versed in scripture.
"If he responded to a question without a scripture answer, we disregarded him because he's just giving us his opinion. We were looking for a spiritual man," Elliott said. And Pastor Jackson responded honestly. "I don't have a problem to say [that] I don't know [something]. I will research it [if need be]."