As the tall, graying minister sat in the small, old-fashioned sanctuary under the elaborate chandelier, he talked about the 140-year-old building and about his plans for the congregation’s future.
Bi-vocational pastor, the Rev. Charles “Chuck” Farmer, has served as interim pastor for the last two years, but in a special service at 3 p.m., June 25, he will be installed as pastor of Concord Presbyterian Church, 11000 Second Drive in Historic Concord Village. The community is invited to attend.
“We are very blessed to have Rev. Farmer become the pastor of Concord Presbyterian Church. He’s a terrific and inspiring leader,” said music director Burt L. Rosevear, who has served there for 12 years. “He’s easy to work with, personable and down to earth. I feel very comfortable working with him as the worship leader and my wife, Alina, also as the pianist. We know where he’s going. He has a clear vision for what he wants to accomplish. He’s going to try to draw in people who desire a traditional worship experience.”
Farmer said the church can trace its roots to its original 1798 building where Pleasant Forest Cemetery is today. The church building was destroyed during the Civil War and members scattered. The members returned after the war and reestablished the church in Concord. The present building, on the National Register of Historic Places, was erected in 1877 and has since been known as Concord Presbyterian Church.
He said the membership at the white-frame church is 70 to 80 and the average attendance for the last couple of months has been around 55.
“Our congregation is built upon a grand tradition,” Farmer said. “We offer a traditional worship service in a historic location, in which we find a deep, rich and meaningful experience that stirs the deepest recesses of our memory of the mighty works of God. From this central experience, we are empowered to reach out into the world offering the saving grace of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
“Specifically, we are called to be a part of the healing work that he has begun. In a world that is full of pain and separation, we find great hope and comfort in the work of the true ‘Great Physician,’” he added. “He is the one who heals us individually in mind, body and soul — as well as the one who heals the brokenness within families, parishes, communities and the world.
“We have a very traditional service. There are no big screens, no praise bands. A traditional service is what’s most meaningful for me. I think there are a lot of people who would like it. We’re a friendly church. We’ve got a good bunch of people. Seventy percent of people who live down Northshore don’t go anywhere. I think we’ve got a job to do to prepare the next generation to be church leaders.”
“We have a monthly Wednesday fellowship dinner most months,” he said. “Part of what we’re going to do is enhance the things we do. For the second time we had a Sunrise service on Easter at the Elsie Prater Farm on Northshore.
Modernization is under way at the old church. The website has been updated to work on mobile devices and sermons are available at www.concordpresbyterian.org.
Farmer met his wife, the former Mary Nell Davis, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later received a Master’s of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1979. They have four grown children and six grandchildren.
“I took a charge in the Holston Presbytery in Greeneville, Tennessee, and served two churches and later went to First Presbyterian of Sevierville. In ’86 I left the full-time ministry and became a tentmaker. Since ’91 I have been in financial services,” Farmer said.
“My wife and I are looking forward to continuing our service to the wonderful community that exists at Concord PC,” he added. “We are humbled and honored by the gracious warmth by which we have been received by the members.
“I do have a pastor’s heart, but my gift is preaching. I hope by effectively preaching the Gospel in its many layers that people will want to hear the story. If we don’t tell it, it will be forgotten.”
Farmer said he has a vision for the church’s future.
“I think there’s a hunger for the preaching of the gospel and a traditional worship service in a small church environment,” he said. “I think there’s a great number of people who get lost in large congregations. What I’m particularly interested in is helping our small churches survive. If you look at stats, there are about 4,000 churches that close each year. I particularly look at this as an experiment. How can a small church not just survive, but thrive?”
For more information about the installation service or the church, call 865-966-1563.