JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – For the Rev. David Kenley, 30 years an ordained Disciples of Christ minister, it has been a long road to pastoring Johns Creek Christian Church on Bell Road.
The last 10 years Kenley and his wife lived in the United Kingdom – which most of us on this side of the pond call Great Britain – because of his wife’s career.
“We were committed to stay only a year, but it turned into 10 years. Finally, we realized it was time to come home,” Kenley said. “I spent many years pastoring to the elderly at the Christian Church Home of the Elderly, a nonprofit operating retirement communities.”
In the UK, they lived in the village of Datchet within walking distance of Windsor Castle. The village dates back to the 10th century, but signs of habitation go back to the Ice Age more than 6,000 years ago.
Now they live in a city that is just 10 years old.
When an opportunity arose for his wife to return home, they took it. Her family is from Tennessee, but when she found a position in Atlanta, they decided that was close enough.
“It still feels new after three and half years in Atlanta,” he said.
Kenley sees the new position as something of a challenge. This is his first congregational position. He had ministered at churches in England, but this is the first church where he is not only the senior pastor but the pastor.
“I told [the search committee] that if they would put up with me, I would put up with you,” Kenley said.
That was in July, so everyone appears to be settling in with the arrangement.
For Kenley and his wife, the real change is living in such a cosmopolitan community. The Atlanta area moves at a much faster pace than Datchet or even Frankfurt, Kentucky, where the couple spent much of their married life.
“But it is a positive change for us. We like the cosmopolitan atmosphere. That’s a plus.”
As for his goals, Kenley said he picks that up from his congregation.
“This church has a long history of being involved in the community. They would like do more,” he said. “Especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
That includes a long partnership with North Fulton Community Charities and the work it does with the disadvantaged in the community.
Church members are also involved with the Impact Group working on transitional housing for the homeless.
“We would like to find another outreach ministry to be involved in at a number of levels,” Kenley said. “When we say ministry, we mean significantly more involved than just sending money.”
Kenley said practicing Christianity sometimes means getting your hands dirty and your soul shiny.