New Christ UMC pastor following God’s call

Shannon CareyHalls

Christ United Methodist Church‘s new pastor, the Rev. David Tabor, moved into his new office overlooking Maynardville Highway last Thursday, and this week there are more books on bookshelves than in boxes, but Tabor and his family already feel at home at their new church. Tabor and wife Mary Lynn have three daughters. Two are adults with their own homes, but the youngest, Gracie Ann, is just 7 years old.

Tabor describes her as “quite the surprise and quite the blessing.”

It’s been a long and interesting road that led Tabor and his family to Christ UMC in Halls Crossroads. Tabor grew up in Lakeview, Georgia, just 10 miles south of Chattanooga. Out of high school, he worked as a welder until he was 27, when he decided to give up the miserable heat and hit the books at Carson-Newman College, now Carson-Newman University. Once there, he worked his way through his degree, taking every third semester off to earn enough money for another two semesters. In his last class before graduation in 1990, he met Mary Lynn. They were married the next November.

Tabor’s undergraduate degree is a dual major in psychology and religion. He attended seminary and became a student pastor in the United Methodist Church even though he’d grown up in “a staunch independent Baptist church.” What drew him to a new denomination?

“Open Communion,” Tabor said, referencing the Methodist practice of allowing everyone present to participate in Communion. “It really was that simple. God invites all people to God’s table. It’s open to everyone that’s present. You don’t have to be something else, just you. I was surprised how much it drew me to the United Methodist Church. At my church you had to be a member. The Methodist church may have its difficulties, but it’s a beautiful place to be because you’re welcome.”

Tabor attended seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center, a predominately African-American school that Tabor chose to push his boundaries.

“That was my intent,” he said. “I went and just fell in love with it. I even went back for my doctoral degree in pastoral care and counseling. It was an amazing place to be.”

He served as pastor in many churches, and most recently was posted as district superintendent of the Holston Conference Tazewell District, located in a mountainous region on the Virginia/West Virginia border. He and his family were there for seven years until the bishop asked if Tabor would take the pastorship at Christ UMC.

“I asked Mary Lynn and told her I felt like God was leading us here, and she said, ‘Let’s load the truck,'” Tabor said.

Mary Lynn and Gracie Ann moved into the family’s new home in Sterchi Hills a month ago while Tabor stayed behind to finish out his posting. Last Sunday, he led the worship service at Christ UMC for the first time. He’s impressed with the church’s music ministry, and Gracie Ann “has fallen in love with the children’s coordinator,” he said.

“We’ve been welcomed amazingly well,” he said. “In just our short time of being here, my plan is just getting to know these dear people, to find out who they are and what are their needs. I’m just really happy to be here.”

Christ United Methodist Church also has a new associate pastor, the Rev. Megan Boatwright. Look for an interview with her in coming weeks on!

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