A husband and wife have taken on pastoral roles at two Longview Methodist churches, but they hope that together they and their congregations can be "ambassadors of grace" in East Texas.
Steven Newcomb became the new senior pastor of Winterfield United Methodist Church this month, while his wife, Becca Newcomb, has taken on an associate pastor role at First United Methodist Church of Longview.
"Though we're appointed, we're both hoping to stay here for a while," Steven Newcomb said. "We each want to bring some consistency to our posts, some stability and community building."
Steven Newcomb's first pastoral appointment was in 2001 at a New Summerfield church. He previously worked at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville and felt called into ministry. He's served as chaplain for Lon Morris College and at churches in New Summerfield, Pierces Chapel, Trinidad, Carroll Springs, Cedar Creek Lake, Smithland and, most recently, Jefferson.
Meanwhile, Becca Newcomb got her start in youth ministry one summer and fell in love with it. A few years ago, she said, she felt called to ordained ministry. She's in seminary school through the Perkins School of Theology with Southern Methodist University. She's completed coursework, but must complete an internship year. Her post at First Methodist will allow her to work full time and complete her internship simultaneously.
Becca Newcomb said she's most looking forward to getting out into the community and interacting with people.
"I want to be part of the community in such a way that people who don't know the gospel ... of Christ come to know his grace," she said. "A lot of people don't realize they are loved and valued, and I want to push that to the world and say, 'You matter. God loves you no matter what.' I want to be an ambassador of grace."
The couple met through a mutual friend at seminary school. They realized how much they cared for each other on a trip to China and are able to call a visit to the Great Wall of China their first date. They married weeks before accepting their posts in Longview.
In the Methodist Church, pastors are appointed to serve churches. Some appointments last decades, while other last only a year. This past year, Steven Newcomb was serving as First United Methodist Church of Jefferson. When Winterfield's pastor, the Rev. David Urban, announced his retirement, the church had to fill that post.
The couple believes the opening at First Methodist for Becca Newcomb was fate, and said while the Methodist Church makes appointments, it does try to put married couples at churches that are in the same city or at least nearby.
At Winterfield, Steven Newcomb said his focus will be on outreach and trying to bring more people into the church's facilities while getting church members involved more in the community outside of the church's walls. He's also hopeful for more partnerships with other Methodist churches in Longview to be able to bring congregations together.
"People often see churches as competing ... but really, we're all connected, and I hope this reinforces the connection that is already there," he said.