First Presbyterian has new interim pastor

Lyle J. Ewing sits in the pastor’s study at First Presbyterian Church on Monday, Oct. 16. Ewing officially took over the helm as transitional pastor of the church on Oct. 8.
Lyle J. Ewing sits in the pastor’s study at First Presbyterian Church on Monday, Oct. 16. Ewing officially took over the helm as transitional pastor of the church on Oct. 8. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

As Huntington’s First Presbyterian Church continues its search for a permanent pastor, Lyle Ewing has taken up the mantle to become the church’s transitional pastor. He gave his first Sunday message on Oct. 8.

Ewing is not without experience in leading congregations. He has served nearly 30 years in pastoral care, having come to First Presbyterian from First Presbyterian Church of Monticello, just down U.S.-24. A native of Postville, IA, he attended Dubuque Theological Seminary – after, as he explains, the third call to ministry was the charm.

“I always had a love for the church, whether it was education, worship, mission. From just a young person on, I had a love for that,” he says. “I loved to participate in worship, in whatever ways and means possible as well, but I couldn’t see myself in a pastoral role at that time in my life. When that time finally did become more known to me, it was the most inopportune time possible.”

The first time God called him to serve, Ewing’s wife, Teresa, was expecting their first child and he had just remodeled his house. The second time was when he was in the middle of a job change and a move.

The third time he got the call, the couple’s second child had just been born. It seemed even more “inconvenient,” but Ewing knew he had to be obedient.

“I left for seminary the fifth day after she was born,” he says. “What we want, and what God wants for us, doesn’t always jive up.”

The couple now has three children – two sons and a daughter – and Ewing’s wife, Teresa, works at Lutheran Orthopedic Hospital in Fort Wayne.

“We’re a very diverse family,” he notes. “Our oldest son and his wife and children attend a Baptist church; our daughter and her husband and little boy attend a Church of the Brethren; and our youngest son, Michael, is a Russian Orthodox monk in Wayne, WV. … We all have our different theological and polity issues, but the one thing in common is Christ is our savior.”

Ewing is already looking for common ground at his new post in Huntington. Being a transitional, or interim, pastor appeals to him for a variety of reasons.

“Some people have a tough time with change, and I’m one of those as well with some things,” he says. “I like to ask, ‘If you’re doing something, why are we doing that? What’s the purpose behind it?’

“As an interim, number one, you get to meet new people, in a new location and new community. And you get to find out the great things about that, but you also get to find out about the people’s lives. What’s going on with their lives, within the life of that community and within the life of that worship community? You get to journey with them as well.”

Ewing plans not only to reach out to people, but to look at the church’s current ministries and ascertain whether they are effective, have run their course or need to be tweaked.

“Should we be attuned to what others aren’t doing, that we could be doing for a church this size and being downtown like this?” he muses.

Goals for the remainder of this year include meeting the people, visiting local nursing homes and becoming active in the Huntington community. He would also like to initiate a few new methods of worship, such as adding liturgical dance and trying a new way of taking communion, while encouraging strengths such as the church’s bell choir.

“We’re blessed with a great music director and organist,” he adds.

At present, First Presbyterian has a service on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. A WOW (Worship on Wednesday) meeting for youth is on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. with a meal for the kids at 6 p.m.