Marsha Chartrand

Manchester United Methodist to celebrate Rev. Aaron Kesson’s ministry

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Pastor Aaron Kesson and his family: wife Maria, and sons Andrew and Josh, on Easter Sunday at the church memorial garden.

After nearly five years at Manchester United Methodist Church (MUMC), the Rev. Aaron Kesson and his family will be moving on to share their talents with two congregations in the Flint area.

Among his assignments at Durand and Swartz Creek, both of which will be half-time positions, Pastor Aaron, as he’s well known in Manchester, will be focusing on family ministry at both churches. In Swartz Creek, where he’s been called as an Associate Pastor, he is charged with creating a “new” congregation within the existing church. At Durand, a smaller church, he will likewise serve to grow the congregation by engaging youth and families.

Because of the relatively small distance between the two churches, he says that there are many opportunities for each congregation to do more together than either could do on its own. And he’s excited about the possibilities that could grow out of a joint venture.

“I was humbled to get the call,” he says. “It was an affirmation from the Bishop that he had confidence in my gifts and talents. It’s really not me, though … it’s God. I just need to remember to step out of the way and let God do what God does best.”

During his time in Manchester, Pastor Aaron believes his biggest contribution has been in bridging the gaps between the congregation at MUMC and the wider community. Currently, several local organizations utilize the various spaces that MUMC has to offer– from AA meetings to senior yoga; and from the Cultural Arts Strings group to various scout troops. He’s also been active in the local ministerial association, community worship services, the Community Resource Center, and Manchester Family Service.

“We had hoped to be here a couple more years,” he says of his tenure in Manchester. “We’ve built a lot of relationships here.” His sons, Andrew, 11, and Josh, 8, barely remember their life in Blissfield before they came here; but during the past five years, they have grown up in this small community and will miss their friends and church family.

Being a pastor was not Aaron Kesson’s primary career choice.

“I fought it for years,” he admits. “Although I remember as a child that I would ‘marry’ people on the playground at school, I didn’t actually grow up in a church. I worked in inpatient psych for a few years and I had several people ask me during that time, even though we didn’t necessarily have churchy discussions, if I was a pastor. I had no intention of pursuing that calling; I was planning to get my PhD in psychology.

“But, it’s a call you grow into. After getting several confirmations over the course of a few years, I got a Master’s Degree in counseling.”

Working at the Morris Spear campus in Adrian really ended up confirming that Kesson was receiving a call to pastoral ministry. He began working as a youth pastor in 2003, was assigned as a pastor in 2005, and began working full-time in ministry in 2008. He became fully ordained in 2014, and along the way also was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Reserve as a chaplain. Two years ago, he was promoted to Captain. He considers this work as a “sacred calling.”

“Working as a military chaplain has really enhanced my ministry in the local church,” he says. “It makes it easier for me to reach out to veterans and increase the church’s awareness of the needs of service people and their families. Conversely, my civilian ministry has also enhanced my abilities to reach out to those who are currently serving–and their families as well. It’s a very fulfilling aspect of my ministry.”

He says he and his family felt welcomed in Manchester from Day One, and they have really integrated into the community.

One intriguing aspect of Kesson’s ministry in Manchester has been the birth of a “Pub Theology” group that has met every other Thursday at Over the Edge since January.

“It’s a gathering to talk about topics of faith in a non-churchy atmosphere,” he explains. “Everyone is welcome; it’s open to anyone of any faith or any background. Our stated meeting time is from 8-10 pm, but there are times we’ve closed the place. And yes, we do consume ‘pub’ beverages as part of our gatherings.” He hopes that this growing group will continue to meet even after he is gone.

While Kesson definitely considers pastoral ministry to be a “difficult calling,” he acknowledges that it’s also incredibly fulfilling. And he has plenty of support from his family, his congregation, and his God. And he looks forward to his future assignment with excitement and anticipation; knowing that support will follow him wherever he travels.

The church will celebrate the Kesson family’s ministry in Manchester with a farewell after church on June 25. Friends from the community are welcome to attend.

“We aren’t Dairy Queen, but we have great Sundays,” says the sign in front of Manchester United Methodist Church.

 

 

 

 

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