RINGGOLD – The Ringgold United Methodist church welcomed a new pastor about a year ago, but she was more than just new to their church.
Angel Rishell, a local from Stanton, had grown up as part of the United Methodist Church in Brookville, and recently graduated from Seminary in Pittsburgh.
This is the first church of which she has been solely in charge since graduating and leaving the churches she preached in as part of her residency. Before this she was an associate pastor with a group of six United Methodist churches around the Hazen area: Hazen, Allen Mills, Richardsville, Munderf, and two churches in Sigel. She spent three years with this group of churches before being placed with the two where she is now.
The United Methodist church is broken into geographic conferences, and each conference has districts with a bishop overseeing all the churches. Ringgold is in the Indiana district, which is large physically, and includes about 106 churches.
After completing her schooling and residency, Rishell was appointed to the Ringgold and North Freedom United Methodist churches.
“Their goal is to match pastors’ gifts with the church’s needs... They want people to be long-term, because it can be difficult to build relationships if you’re only there for a few years,” Rishell explained of the appointment process.
She has been at these churches for just over a year now, and has been received well by the parishes as a new and young pastor.
“It might be because I’m younger, but we have a lot of younger couples here [Ringgold],” Rishell said.
The North Freedom United Methodist church does not have attendance as high as Ringgold, but it is also in a smaller area. After some rocky beginnings Rishell said she has learned how to balance preaching at both churches on a Sunday morning.
North Freedom has its church service first, then she has about a five minute drive to get to the Ringgold church for its service. In trying to connect with her new parish, she found herself staying after the service in North Freedom to talk with parishioners personally. She said the Ringgold church was patient with her while she got her timing figured out, and now she has a schedule that works, and allows her to talk with her parishioners.
Now that Rishell is a year in with the churches, and has established good relationships within the church, she would like to start some new programs for them. She wants everyone to feel involved and connected beyond church on Sundays.
She plans to begin new youth programs for the church as a way to keep the youth involved. One of the things she is most looking forward to is starting an after school program.
She would also like to start a young adult group, similar to a Bible study and mission, because of the younger demographics of the parish.
“We have a lot of young adults that come to church on Sunday, but aren’t involved in anything else,” Rishell said.
By starting a new group geared towards this age group, she hopes to give them a space for families to dive deeper into their faith and missions. They will be able to learn about faith and the bible, but also have a chance to put what they learn into action.
“...So you’re learning but you’re also doing, because I think that’s important,” Rishell said.
The Ringgold church previously had a female pastor who was liked by the parish. This, and the age of the parish, Rishell believes has worked in her favor, helping her be accepted easily as a young woman in what is typically a man’s role in a church.