It is a sign of hope, humanity and healing.
In his words about Sunday lawn worship, Wesley United Methodist Church’s ward sign at 85 Stanford Ave. reflects the empowerment, ingenuity, and fellowship of the ward.
And what it doesn’t say could perhaps be more significant.
It’s the first Wesley UMC service since the COVID-19 shutdown.
And it will feature the Church’s new pastor, Rev. Lou Ward.
For Ward, returning to the pueblo is a full circle of movements.
“The appointment to Pueblo is a homecoming for my family as we have all lived in Pueblo for the past three years.”
Born and raised in East Baldwin, Maine, Ward moved to Pueblo in 2000 and met his wife Jenna while they were both studying at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Ward first worked as a teacher, then in the local business community as a corporate training manager.
Then he was called to the Ministry.
He graduated from the Iliff School of Theology with a Master of Divinity in 2016 and was ordained an Elder in Full Context at the United Methodist Church in Billings, Montana in 2019.
Ward served in the United Methodist Church in Walsenburg and Trinidad from 2015 to 17, and most recently in the United Methodist Church in La Junta from 2017 to 20.
He also brings his background as a Colorado State Volunteer Patrol Officer from 2009-2020. From 2012 to 2015 he was also a member of the Chaplain Candidate Program of the Army Reserves in Fort Carson.
Ward said he looks forward to being part of Wesley UMC with his rich legacy of local and global missionary service.
“My goal at Wesley is to continue to find creative ways to better serve our veteran community and provide quality and engaging programs and services to all people, especially young families,” he said. “We will continue to be at the forefront of local and global social justice issues and always stand up for the ‘least’.”
Paulette Stuart, spokeswoman for Wesley UMC, said church leaders were impressed with Ward’s depth and innovation.
“Walsenburg UMC received a denominational award under Rev Ward for building a ward grocery box where the church and ward could provide food / water / toiletries, etc., to those in need in the ward,” said Stuart. “The motto was ‘take what you need and leave what you can.'”
Ward realized the rare circumstances he found himself in and explained his plan.
“We will slowly begin to pray together outside, with a service on Sunday morning at 9 am, so that we can properly distance ourselves physically with masks,” he said. “I know the church will look and feel different for a while, but the safety of The Church is my primary concern.
Ward said church leaders will reassess the weekly evolution of the COVID-19 scenario and stop personal worship and return to online worship if necessary.
Jenna Ward and the couple’s two sons, Landon, 11 and Liam, 7, will join Ward at Wesley UMC.
Since the message on Sunday is delivered outdoors under socially distant guidelines, believers are asked to bring folding chairs and wear masks.
I would like to invite everyone to come to Wesley UMC for a fun and different service on Sunday morning! “Said Ward. I look forward to meeting you all in the days and months to come! “
For more information, please contact the church office at 561-8746.
Chief reporter Karen Vigil can be reached by email at [email protected] or at https://twitter.com/klvigil. Support local journalism by subscribing to the Chieftain at https://chieftain.com/subscribenow.