Surprise ordination BY JOAN KERN, Correspondent
James Nowlin is now the Rev. James Nowlin.
And it came as a complete surprise.
"It was a big surprise. It wasn't planned. I'm still kind of in shock," says Nowlin, a member of the Church of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, 535 Howard Ave.
Bishop Albert A. Belton, founding pastor of the city church, ordained Nowlin, 39, in a service on April 28.
"He called me to the front and said the Lord had told him to ordain me there and then," Nowlin says.
Nowlin said Belton plans to send him to lead a branch of the church in Lebanon when it opens on a date yet to be determined, but which Nowlin believes is not too far off.
Nowlin's ordination shouldn't have been a complete surprise, because Belton has been preparing him for ministry since 1998. And it's little wonder, because Nowlin is a jack-of-all-trades at the Bible-believing church.
He's been a van driver and was president of the Usher Board from 2000-2007. For the past two years, he has directed the Men's Group, a nine-member gospel choir.
He's also one of the financial officers and head of the cleaning crew, taking care of the grounds and whatever else needs to be done. And he's a Sunday school teacher and a member of the Communion Board, helping to prepare and serve communion.
"Whatever's needed, I do, whenever I can," he says, "because I love serving the Lord and serving the church. It's not for any recognition. I just love to serve God."
A Lancaster native, Nowlin graduated from McCaskey High School in 1992 and works as a technician for Lancaster's Radio Active Repair. He and his wife, Janette, whom he met at the church, live near the church on Church Street and have three sons, Stephen, 22; Demetrius, 19; and Marcel, 18.
The son of Helen Nowlin, of Lancaster, and the late John Nowlin, he grew up in the former Church of the Living God on Green Street and joined the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in 1995, following in his mother's footsteps.
"I was saved on May 14, 1995, on Mother's Day."
He said as he learned more about the church and God, he began to grow spiritually and to become more involved in church. As a student minister, he has preached regularly at the church since 1998.
He was told he was ordained now because "I was found faithful in serving my church and community. I didn't expect it, but I am truly grateful. I hope I can do the job. I want to be the best preacher I can be and the best leader for the people. The church changed my life. I stopped being depressed, being down, and got joy in my life. I found my purpose in life, which was to be a preacher. I'm happy there.
"The most important thing I want people to know about me is that I love the Lord and I love people and that the best way to help people is to help them get to heaven."
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