New Presbyterian preacher in Atmore
By By Adrienne McKenzie
James Thorpe has moved from a small South Carolina town to worship and minister with First Presbyterian Church members.
Thorpe officially started his job as pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Atmore the first of September. His installation ceremony will be held today at the church. He said thus far he has enjoyed the Atmore community and church members.
"One thing we've found to be very special are the people in Atmore," he said. "Atmore is fulfilling the ideals of the classic southern American town. We were interested in having our kids in a good town."
Thorpe is from Columbia, S.C., but has lived all over the U.S. He came to Atmore from Aimwell Presbyterian Church in Ridgeway, S.C. He said his great grandfather served in the same church for many years.
Being a preacher at a Presbyterian church has not always been Thorpe's occupation.
"I graduated from the University of South Carolina," he said. "I worked in the food business with Chef Boyardee. I started with them and worked my way up through the ranks. That's when I started moving around. In Richmond, Va., I felt the call to ministry. I was 40 years old when I went to Seminary."
Thorpe attended Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. He said he had a good job with Chef Boyardee, but felt called to do something else.
"I had a great job, but I didn't want to sell spaghetti for the rest of my life," Thorpe said. "What called me here was that I was sensing the Lord's calling to move on to a new ministry. In between pastoral calls, I had returned to sales but I was selling Hyundai automobiles. I had a call from the pulpit committee here. When we visited, my wife Mary and I fell in love with the people and town. It's such a welcoming town."
Thorpe is not new to the state of Alabama, however. He said he served at a church in Montgomery for three years.
Thorpe said his philosophy of ministry is to have church become the number one priority in the culture.
"The church has lost influence in culture," he said. "My philosophy is for it to gain influence. That happens when we become the body of Christ."
Thorpe and his wife Mary have three children; Steven, a senior at Auburn University; 12-year-old Julia and 10-year-old David, both attend Escambia Academy.