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Guided by the spirit: Retired insurance salesman finds a new calling in ministry

August 20, 2018

FLORENCE, S.C. − John Crouch, an insurance salesman of 40 years, has taken a new path after retirement. He has begun a part-time position in ministry.

Crouch retired from CSP Insurance in 2014 and began getting more heavily involved in Central United Methodist Church, where he has been an active lifelong member.

Before retirement, Crouch served as a certified lay servant at Central and led weekly Bible studies, and after retiring he became a certified lay leader in the church. Crouch and his minister, Will Malambri, became close in Crouch’s retirement and often discussed trends in the church, such as a shortage of pastors in smaller churches. As a response to this, Crouch said, he felt like he could be doing more, and he did. Crouch became a supply pastor on July 1 at Johnsonville United Methodist Church.

“I had certainly been called by the Holy Spirit to be doing this,” Crouch said. “I had a feeling I was supposed to be doing something else other than what I had been doing. Of course, I was totally untrained and totally unqualified to be doing this.”

As a supply pastor, Crouch works closely with the church secretary, Mettie Ruth Barnhill, plans the order of worship and writes a sermon each week.

Crouch is working to become a licensed local pastor, which will allow him to serve communion, baptize people and conduct weddings and funerals. In December, Crouch will attend a retreat with other individuals seeking the licensing, and he will find out if he is approved to be a licensed local pastor. To prepare for this, Crouch must take tests, such as a writing and arithmetic test.

Though completely out of his comfort zone, Crouch said, he is learning every Sunday through the help of the church members, and he knows he is right where he needs to be.

“None of this happens because we want it to happen,” Crouch said. “This is all guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. There are reasons why these things happen, and I am totally convinced that God has put me in this position.”

Crouch said the biggest challenge for him has been writing a new sermon each week.

“That is a challenge: trying to write a fresh one every week that is interesting and challenging enough that it keeps the people involved,” he said.

Crouch said the people in Johnsonville have made a large impact on his time as a supply pastor, and they have helped him along the way.

“I am crazy about the people in Johnsonville,” Crouch said. “I have met the nicest people. They are loving, they are giving and they are supportive of what I’m doing.”

As Crouch is transitioning into the new position, he said, he is excited to work alongside the people who have invested consistently in the church for years.

“We’ve got a difficult task ahead of us: growing the church,” Crouch said. “But we are going to get more people coming in.”

Crouch has been a lifelong Christian, and he said he believes he has been prepared for this position.

“It’s been a journey, a process,” Crouch said.

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