The Rev. Seth Hammond will step into familiar shoes on May 14 as he takes the reins as senior pastor at Christ Covenant church in Farragut. The Rev. Jim Barnes is retiring and moving with wife Jane to the Nashville area to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
Hammond has been associate pastor at Christ Covenant since 2013 when a speculative phone call brought him home to Knoxville. A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Hammond grew up in Knoxville and is the son of Mike and Viv Hammond. He served previously for six years at University Presbyterian Church in Orlando.
“I was looking for a change from my position in Orlando and wanted to come back to Knoxville,” says the pastor. “Years ago, when I was a student in Chattanooga, I remember driving by Christ Covenant with my mom and telling her, ‘That’s the only church that would get me back to Knoxville.’ I have always had a special feeling for this church, especially since it was a ‘daughter’ church of Cedar Springs Presbyterian, where I grew up.”
Hammond says he just picked up the phone from his home in Orlando one day as a shot-in-the-dark and called the church. “I asked, ‘You don’t happen to be hiring, are you?’ and they said they had an assistant pastor position available. I put my name in the hat, went through the interview process and was hired.”
Today, it is the church’s dedication to world missions that is the icing on the cake for Hammond. “We support almost 30 missionaries, and we send groups of our own people to eight to 10 different places every year,” says Hammond. “We start the conversation with our children and the service goes all the way through to our senior citizens. They are all out in the mission field, whether it is in Black Mountain, N.C., or Athens, Greece.”
Going forward, Hammond says he wants Christ Covenant to “be a place that is uncompromising in truth and unwavering in love. We want to continue to build on the great foundation laid by Jim Barnes’ leadership, to look back and celebrate what God has done and then leap forward to an exciting future and great opportunity.”
Serving at home is also a big part of what Christ Covenant stands for, says Hammond. “For example, one of our members put together a prayer group for Farragut High School. We will go on Saturday to pray for the school. Our hearts are broken for the three young people who took their lives. We want to encourage students of the school. We want them to know that it is cool to be kind, that they should look for those who are on the fringe and reach out to them in kindness.”
Hammond chairs the board at Choices Resource Center and is a chaplain in the Air National Guard. A celebration with Barnes and Hammond will be held on May 21.