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United Methodist pastor reflects on time in New Castle

First United Methodist Church Pastor Tom McGilliard reflects Tuesday in the church nursery about his 14 years serving in New Castle. Heis moving on to Corydon with June 23 his last Sunday at the local church.

By DONNA CRONK - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

Tom McGilliard sensed something special when he made Eagle Scout in 1966. He thought he wanted to become a pastor.

McGilliard, a Speedway native, went on to do just that, and has served at various United Methodist churches in Indiana. For the past 14 years, he’s been pastor at New Castle First United Methodist Church. And now, he’s moving on to serve two Corydon churches. His last day here is Sunday.

The public is invited to wish him well during a reception from 5-7 p.m. Sunday, June 23 at 1414 Venue on Broad Street in downtown New Castle.

“It’s been a great place to live and an excellent place to raise a daughter,” McGilliard says of New Castle, adding, “Our community has helped her develop a deep love for Jesus.”

Daughter Madison, in fact, will be working at a Foursquare Church camp this summer along with some other ministries. She plans to enter the ministry.

When asked what he’s enjoyed most about pastoring in New Castle, many things come to McGilliard’s mind.

“I’ve loved launching a new campus (The Place) and reaching a new community for Christ,” he says.

The reverend adds that he loves bringing God’s love and grace to local inmates through the Kairos prison ministry, and speaks of meeting one-on-one with students at Eastwood Elementary School. He mentions the recent launch of Brianna’s Hope, an addictions-recovery group, and partnering with a ministry called The Lord’s Supper. He has also loved being in small groups and preaching.

McGilliard mentions his wife Linda’s work as “a driving force for our mission of drilling wells in Africa.”

First United Methodist Church board member Judy Catron says of McGilliard, “He has taught our congregation that our Christianity is not always about ‘us.’ It’s about reaching out to others and helping them understand what God’s love and grace are all about.”

She adds that McGilliard teaches followers that they “have to go outside the walls of the church.”

Following high school, McGilliard joined the Coast Guard, then majored in religion at Phillips University followed by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, graduating in 1981. After that, he began his career as a pastor, which now will continue in southern Indiana.

“God’s done some things we never imagined he would do in New Castle,” says McGilliard. “And, we look forward to what he will do in the future.”

Replacing McGilliard will be Pastor Holly Hardsaw, who begins duties July 1.