Faithful to the call

Rev. Shane Page didn’t always want to go into the ministry. In fact, he didn’t always have an interest in going to church.

Rev. Shane Page

Rev. Shane Page

But a “curiosity about God” led to a lifelong commitment to his faith and, ultimately, a career in Christian ministry that will bring him to Harrison United Methodist Church in less than six weeks, where he’ll permanently serve as senior pastor.

“There’s a fluidity of ministry; it’s ever changing,” Page said. “But in that challenge lies the great joy of being in ministry.”

Page grew up in a single-parent home – his father left when Page was about 18 months old – and was raised primarily by his maternal grandparents, who took him to church at First United Methodist of Gastonia. He developed what he calls a “curiosity about God” as a child and was always poring over the Bible and looking at Renaissance paintings of Jesus.

After graduating high school, Page opted to skip college and got a job at Chili’s Bar & Grill. Church wasn’t typically a part of his weekly agenda.

“I had pretty much left the faith, but that curiosity about God never left me,” he said. “It was then I started making some poor decisions. What I often tell people, if you can put the Grateful Dead, Bob Marley and Cheech and Chong together, you’ll get an idea of who I was.”

A wake-up call and turning point for Page came when a friend invited him to a Billy Graham Crusade hosted in Charlotte in 1996, when Page was about 21. On the final night of the crusade, Page came to a crossroads.

“I knew I had to make a decision to follow Jesus or be a pagan be an excellent pagan. I decided I needed to get serious,” he said. “I rededicated my life (to God) that night. I was on fire and eager to know more of this God that we Christians follow.”

Page resumed attending First United Methodist of Gastonia and began studying the scriptures “voraciously.” However, he was a bit cautious when he felt a call to go into the ministry until his pastor, Rev. Jody Seymour, helped confirm what Page was feeling on the inside. Page transferred from Gaston Community College to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then to Duke Divinity School.

When the time came to enter full-time ministry, Page was “scared to death.” Nonetheless, he took a leap of faith, as well as a position at Harmony United Methodist Church in the small, rural town of Harmony, N.C. He realized during his first year at Harmony he was truly on the right track, thanks to members of his congregation who encouraged him and reaffirmed his call to enter the ministry.

Page spent five years at Harmony before receiving an email from Rev. James Howell, senior pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, in 2008 regarding an associate minister position with the church. Myers Park is the largest church in the Western North Carolina United Methodist Conference, at about 5,000 members, Page said, adding he was initially “blindsided” by Howell’s email. After careful prayer and consideration, Page decided to accept a position as minister of evangelism and involvement at Myers Park.

“That’s what I love about Jesus, is he loves to interrupt the normal course of events and blindside you with something completely different,” he said.

Page has spent the last five years at Myers Park, welcoming people to the church, “being the face of the church” and helping the congregation find ways to serve within the church. He said his work at Myers Park has been very rewarding, as he’s been able to help others grow and apply their faith in “real, practical ways.”

“There’s some kind of joy in seeing people grow,” he said.

Page was presented with the opportunity to serve as senior pastor of Harrison United Methodist Church’s about 1,400-member congregation earlier this month. He knew right away Harrison was the place where God was calling him to go, and he’ll preach his first sermon at the church on Dec. 1.

Though he’s filled with “nervous excitement,” Page said he’s thrilled and grateful to be joining the church. He added he has “no agenda” for Harrison, other than “serving, embodying and sharing the good news of what Jesus is doing” at the church.

“If I can help the people of Harrison do that, if I can help them love the Lord their God a little bit more, a little bit deeper, that is the only thing that matters,” he said.

When he’s not serving his church, Page enjoys spending time with his wife, Christie, and children, Jordan, 8, and Davis, 4. He also loves heavy metal music, reading and drumming on the side.

“I love playing the drums, but by no means am I a professional,” he said.

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