Our Minister – Barry Burkholder
I guess the first thing that comes to mind is that it is an absolute joy to have the opportunity to serve here! I am inclined to say, “I came to Virginia in 1979, and I got to King George County as soon as I could.” Actually, my first experience of Virginia goes back to 1964. My family—that is my mother, father, and I came to Virginia on a family vacation.
We left Centre County. Pennsylvania, drove through Harrisburg, and came down route 11. The first place we stopped was Winchester. We continued down the Shenandoah Valley, turned east toward Richmond, and started north, exploring caves and other natural and historical sites. We spent our last night receiving the hospitality of the people in Fredericksburg. Those warm feelings were affirmed when we came to our meet-your-pastor meeting a few weeks ago.
Since that vacation—over fifty years ago—I’ve lived a lot. I graduated high school in 1967, graduated from Penn State with a degree in Theatre Arts (Film and Television), went to the Army and taught at the Signal School for three years, completed graduate school at Clarion State College (Communication) and again at Penn State (Curriculum and Instruction). I came to Virginia in 1979 and worked at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College for about fifteen years. I met my wife, Gerry, while taking a summer course at Penn State, and seven years later I asked her out (That’s a whole other story.) We got married about the time I was finishing school. Our daughter was born in 1982 and by now she is married, and she and her husband have two little girls of their own. Her husband Chris graduated from Tech and works for the Federal Highway Department as the Assistant Bridge Engineer for the state of Virginia. Keri graduated from James Madison University (Public Relations) and now works for Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Mechanicsville as Communication Coordinator. She is the past president of the conference Board of Communication.
My relationship with Jesus Christ began in 1959 at the age of nine. It was at an old-fashioned revival meeting during an altar call. I can earnestly say that emotionally and spiritually that was the most moving moment in my life I wish I could say that I have always lived in that close relationship with God and with Jesus Christ; however I must confess that in my young adulthood I allowed worldly values and influences to sometimes have more impact in my life than they should. But God is good, as well as gracious and merciful and never let me go too far astray. After marrying and moving to Virginia, Gerry and I started attending a Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Richmond. We became active in its worship, fellowship, and service. However, we lived seven miles from that church and when we moved our residence an additional seven miles farther away, we decided to make our church home closer to our residence an I rejoined my United Methodist roots at Shady Grove in Mechanicsville. After taking Disciple Bible Study, I began to feel called to full time ministry. Since then I have served as a Licensed Local Pastor, completed a Master of Divinity degree at the School of Theology at Virginia Union University, and have been ordained as Deacon and then Elder.
I’ve been blessed to serve God and the church in many regions of the state. I have served the Burkeville Charge, Marsh Memorial in Lynchburg, South Hill, Central in Clifton Forge, Lower in Hartfield, Emmanuel in Stephenson, and am now blessed to be serving here at Fletcher’s Chapel.
I am eager to meet you and get to know you better. Yes, it will be a struggle to put the right names to the right faces (Hint: the more active you are, the faster I’ll learn.) I look forward to seeing you on Sundays, at other church functions, to visiting you in your homes and I want you to know that I am available in person, by phone at (540) 625-2539, or e-mail (BarryBurkholder@VAUMC.ORG) any time you might need me. I hope to help you know what’s in my head, and in my heart.
Please feel free to talk to me at any time to share a point of view, a concern, or a joy. Please help me to get to know you better. I pray that God will use us all to make Fletcher’s Chapel UMC everything God wants it to be in loving service to our community and our region. May God richly bless us all in our effort.
In God’s love and service,