GRANGEVILLE The love and care of good neighbors years ago led the way for Ryan Campbell to be where he is today.
“Really, in so many ways, when I look back I see the hand of God,” he said.
Campbell is the new minister at Grangeville’s United Methodist Church. He replaces Barbara Essen, who retired last month. Campbell and his wife, Denise, arrived in Grangeville June 1.
Born and raised in rural Indiana, Campbell said he had at least two memorable early experiences with Christianity and grace.
“As a young child just learning to read, I got my hands on a Christian comic book,” he said. He prayed the sinner’s prayer offered in the book, and, looking back, feels God honored that simple faith throughout the years.
Campbell also had faithful Christian neighbors who baby-sat him while his parents worked.
“They were very devout, and I witnessed them reading their Bibles and saw their Christ-like behavior,” he said.
Campbell went on to pick up a trumpet as a child and by sixth grade had discovered he was gifted musically. In high school, he was part of the marching band and also attended church youth group with a friend.
A seemingly small incident during a youth mission trip to Jamaica shook his faith.
“I witnessed kids in the group drinking and smoking with the Rastafarians, and it really affected me,” he said.
Campbell fell away from his walk with the Lord, and moved on to Indianapolis for work.
He met and married Denise, who is an RN, and they had two sons.
In 2005, he got a call from a friend who needed support and that friendship led him back to church.
Campbell said he had a strained relationship with his father, but returned home to spend three years working in his father’s donut shop. By now he was playing guitar in church but was looking for something a bit more full time.
It was at the donut shop that he met a United Methodist minister who led him to a church that needed help with worship music. Later, a “chance” attendance at another church landed him a job as worship leader.
“Again, I know God was in it and it wasn’t a coincidence,” he smiled.
When he was asked to pray about the possibility of becoming a full-time pastor, Campbell said that was not on his agenda.
“But we did pray, and I began to feel the call,” he said. That call led him into full-time pastoral work.
Now, with their sons grown and in their 20s, the Campbells began to feel the need to “take a leap of faith” again.
“A friend led us here. I was able to visit and interview, and Denise said she trusted me,” he grinned. “And here we are.”
Campbell said he is excited about what is in store for Grangeville United Methodist Church. He will share in preaching, pastoring and discipleship, but will also share his gift of music, which includes guitar and vocals.
“The people have been great and the parsonage looks like something from HGTV,” he smiled.
The former pastor was in charge of services in White Bird and Nezperce, as well, but that has changed, Campbell said. White Bird has closed and Nezperce is utilizing lay pastor Denis Long.
“I feel really blessed to be able to concentrate on Grangeville and the congregation here,” he said.
Currently, the church offers Sunday school for adults at 9:30 a.m., and Sunday worship service at 11 a.m. Campbell hopes to add to the schedule in the future. In the meantime, he plans to get involved as a Syringa Hospital chaplain and also offer music at the local homes for the elderly.
“Music is a way to share with anyone in any situation being able to relate on some level,” he said.
The United Methodist Church is located at 404 West Main Street, across from Asker’s Harvest Foods. Call the church at 983-0310.