New pastor for Hebron Church
HEBRON – It is neither coincidence nor on a whim that Rev. Chris Whitehead is Hebron Christian Church’s new pastor. “The short answer is God,” he said. Whitehead said pastors of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, of which the Hebron Christian Church is affiliated, place themselves in a process of discernment to determine where to be pastors. He said that he decided on Hebron after roughly a year of study. “I sensed here that there is an atmosphere of hope,” said Whitehead. His ministry began at Hebron Christian Church Jan. 1 and there was an official installation service Jan. 20 during the morning worship service.
Whitehead said Hebron’s sense of hope is a welcome contrast to some other churches, where the congregations are dwindling and attending church services is seen as increasingly irrelevant.
“I hope to spend a lot of time in my first six months getting to know the community and congregation as well as I can,” said Whitehead. He looks forward to setting goals and plotting for the future. “Finding a vision for what God has for us,” said Whitehead.
Whitehead is originally from Louisiana. “I’m a city kid from New Orleans,” he said. Prior to being a full time pastor, he said he was in non-profit construction and human resources. During that time, he said he sort of preached in his own way, talking to people about community enhancement programs and the like. He said one day a Louisiana minister named Roger Carstensen saw him speak publicly and asked Whitehead if he ever considered becoming a pastor. “I told him yes, I knew I wanted to (be a pastor) my whole life,” said Whitehead.
Whitehead’s wife, Kate, was very supportive of her husband’s new calling, which took place about seven years into their marriage. “She didn’t marry as a pastor’s wife,” he said, but she understood his motivation and they’ve now been together 32 years. “They have a son, Jesse, 30 and a daughter, Dorothy Jean, 24, both of whom live in Oregon and work for an organization that helps provide health care for disabled individuals. He said both his children are enjoying their respective careers and doubts either has any plans to move to Ohio soon.
Prior to moving to Hebron, Whitehead was a pastor at the First Christian Church of Mansfield, Ohio, which he said was in a blighted area. “It’s a tough place to be,” he said of his former church’s location. “I loved them dearly, but I didn’t feel like I could stay.”
Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason, a Hebron Christian Church elder, hopes Whitehead finds Hebron Village to be a pleasant change from the more urban Mansfield. “I hope (Hebron) offers that small town feel he may or may not have had in Mansfield,” he said. “We’re glad he’s here.”