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Minister ready to 'grow' new congregation

November 13, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Minister ready to 'grow' new congregation



After 10 years of ministering to Kent Island's only United Methodist congregation, Ken Valentine is getting used to his new assignment at John Wesley United Methodist Church at 129 N. Potomac St. in Hagerstown.

No longer the only game in town, Valentine said he is looking forward to working with other Methodist congregations as well as other denominations in the community.

"On the island, there was one Methodist church, one Episcopal church, one Lutheran church, etc.," Valentine said. "We all learned to work with each other."

Proud of his accomplishments during his tenure, Valentine said his church doubled attendance during his 10 years there.

As wonderful as island living was for Valentine and his family, it was time for a change and so they accepted the call to Hagerstown in July.

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"We are very happy with the community," he said. "The friendliness was apparent right away."

Valentine's arrival nearly coincided with the completion of a major renovation of the church's parsonage, which is next door to the church.

For years after it ceased being the parsonage in 1978, the building was rented out, either as offices or, briefly, as a home for a family of five. It also housed the cold weather shelter during two of those years.

Since 1997, the building has been vacant and the congregation had been trying to decide how best to use the space.

They opted to spend about $170,000 to renovate the building into offices and storage.

"The church office is on the first floor along with the room for the computer, a full kitchen/dining room and a sitting room," said Linda Shank, church secretary.

Upstairs is Valentine's office, the Christian education director's office, a work room and a meeting room that can accommodate 12 to 15 people. The third floor is a storage area but could be remodeled later.

"I still use the old office over in the church building on Sunday mornings," Valentine said. Another room there is used by the counters on Sundays and the adult Sunday school expanded into a bigger space.

Valentine is a native New Yorker who earned his bachelor's degree from Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C., and his master of divinity degree from Drew University in New Jersey.

He has served churches in Maryland and Delaware.

"I know how to grow churches," he said. "You love and minister to the needs of the people and then the fellowship grows and people tell others 'this is where I worship.'"

John Wesley has a membership roll of about 1,275.

Valentine's wife of 21 years, Cheryl, is a teacher at Funkstown Elementary School. Their daughter, Rachel, 14, is a student at North Hagerstown High School. Their son, Josh, 18, is a freshman at Frostburg State University.

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