Woodland Presbyterian Church gets new pastor

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For three years Woodland Presbyterian Church went without an official pastor.

The long-time church in Woodland was formed in 1889 and has been through plenty of adversity over the years. These last three years will probably add to that list, but things are now back on track for the congregation.

Woodland Presbyterian Church’s former pastor was Larry Brown. After 25 years of service he retired and the church brought in an interim pastor. At about this time, the church also decided to switch from the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) denomination over to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) denomination. Member Mike Ferguson said the new denomination “more closely aligned with the beliefs of the members of Woodland Presbyterian.”

Because of the transition, Woodland Presbyterian could not get a new pastor until they were officially out of the PCUSA and in the EPC. This process didn’t happen until last June. Six months later new Pastor Kevin Leach was hired. He and his wife joined the church for worship for the first time on Dec. 4.

For the last 29 years Leach has done ministry at three different churches on the East Coast, the most recent of which was in Massachusetts. He is, however, from the Pacific Northwest, specifically the Seattle area where he was born, raised, and attended college at Seattle Pacific University.

Leach is joined by his wife Cindy. Together they are still a little surprised to be in Woodland.

“I come from a congregational background and if you had said last January that this time next year I would be a pastor in a Presbyterian church, I would have said that you were dreaming.  But in the process of searching for a new position, I came across the profile of a great church that was in my home state of Washington,” Leach said. “It took me only about three emails with the search committee to know that this was a very Godly and committed church family.”

The Leaches want to take their time getting to know the members of Woodland Presbyterian before making any significant changes.

“I know the church members are ready for new things but it is important for me to build trust with our church family before we make any major changes,” Leach said. “I am in no hurry to make things happen quickly. This is God's work and we will do things in his time. It is our hope and prayer to be in Woodland for many years, God willing.”

In those “many years” to come, the Leaches will likely be found most of the time right in the comfort of their home. Watching Hallmark movies or shows like Downton Abbey are examples of how they like to spend their free time. Members of the church will soon discover the Leaches do have a bit of an adventurous side as they like to explore and “hope to get a little snow skiing in now and then.”

“We already love the city of Woodland and the surrounding communities. The people we have met are some of the friendliest and most helpful people we have ever encountered. We hope this will be a long and fruitful time of ministry for us and our church,” Leach said.

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