Last year I interviewed Melissa Memmott, the newly minted pastor of St. George Baptist Church. She was full of anticipation about what God was going to do in her community, and was excited about getting to know her church members and neighbours and connecting with her community.
Now that a year has passed, I decided to reconnect with Melissa and find out how things have gone so far. Was Melissa’s optimism justified?
It didn’t take long to get answer. I arrived to find Melissa in the midst of directing a group of children and youth as they rehearsed for an upcoming performance – an adaptation of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Replete with hand painted sets and glittering costumes, the kids were excitedly singing and acting out the story with their own dramatic flair.
For March break, Melissa and her faithful team of volunteers had thrown open the church doors and invited young people to join them for a theatre week.
“We gave the kids an inch and they’re running the mile in terms of creativity,” says Melissa. “They’re writing and delivering their own lines. They’re putting it all together – staging, blocking and actions. They’re issuing stage directions. They’re kids from the surrounding community, and they have the chance to shine.”
And shine they do, thanks to Melissa and her team’s obvious excitement in seeing them thrive. Because of their work, in a place that could have been empty on March break, there were excited kids and volunteers learning about God’s faithfulness to his people, growing in confidence and creativity and filling St. George’s beautiful building with joyful noise, life and excitement.
“A sign of a healthy community is when kids are playing in the playground. The same can be said of a church – when kids are laughing and learning about God. My prayer and hope is to reach the kids in the community,” says Melissa.
But it isn’t just children that Melissa is excited to serve. St. George is full of young seniors – the town has an average age of about 55. Rather than seeing this as a challenge, Melissa is full of praise for the great things they are able to do. They’re looking into starting an after school program, helping local kids with homework and providing a bit of relief to parents who are juggling busy schedules. They’re joining together regularly in prayer as they lift up their families and grandchildren to Christ.
It isn’t just St. George that is growing, however. Melissa and her husband are expecting their first child very soon. One might think that this would mean that Melissa would have her sights set only on her own growing family. But instead, she’s excited to have the opportunity to get to know some of the other young parents in her area. “You’re always a pastor, whether or not you’re on mat leave,” says Melissa.
With such a warm and optimistic spirit, it is hard not to catch Melissa’s excitement about what God will do in the coming years. Whatever it is, and however God leads St. George’s community, it will be an adventure. In Melissa’s own words, “This is just the beginning.”