After a long stretch without a permanent pastor, Blaine’s United Church of Christ (UCC) has finally found someone to fill the position.
Louisiana native Sandy Annette Cheatham has signed on to lead the congregation at the Blaine house of worship.
The church has been without a full-time pastor since a year ago January, following the departure of pastor Marsha Williams.
In the meantime, the church has been drawing from a UCC service called “Pulpit Supply,” in which different retired pastors step in to give sermons on a week-by-week basis.
“For the past 19 months, we have had a different pastor every Sunday, which makes for some interesting sermons as each preaches in a different way and has his or her own style,” said Carol Hogan, chair of the church’s pastor search committee. “At the same time, for continuity, the congregation really longs to have its own pastor.”
The church initiated their search for a new pastor last September. Hogan and a council of volunteers were tasked with finding a suitable candidate and proposing the potential hire to the church council before bringing the candidate before the congregation for approval.
Pastor Cheatham will be serving solely in a part-time capacity at first, with the hope that her responsibilities will grow as the church grows, Hogan said.
Pastor Cheatham comes to Blaine with a long list of accomplishments. After graduating from Louisiana Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in history, Cheatham went on to earn a master’s degree in education from the University of Arkansas, and master’s of teaching and divinity from Iliff School of Theology in Denver. She plans to add a master’s in social work to her collection, as well. Cheatham has worked as a middle school teacher in Corvalis, Oregon and as a minister at the Broomfield United Church of Christ in Broomfield, Colorado.
Despite her busy career and education schedule, Cheatham has managed to raise four children with her husband, Seth, an electrical engineer.
“It helps that I have such an amazing husband,” Cheatham said. “And my kids are used to it. There’s never been a time in their lives when I wasn’t at school or working.”
Since her position will be part time to begin with (around 20 hours a week), Cheatham is looking forward to spending more time with her kids, who range in age from preschool to middle school.
Cheatham said her sermons focus on how the scripture relates to her congregation’s daily lives, and what lessons they can use on a day-to-day basis.
“Our slogan here at UCC is ‘God is still speaking,’” she said. “We just want to remind people that God is still speaking to them and is still listening.”
Cheatham said her office is open to anyone, whether they are members of the church, members of other faiths or not religious at all.
“I have a background in therapy, so I just want people to know I’m here to help if they need me,” she said.
Pastor Cheatham is set to deliver her first sermon at United Church of Christ on Sunday, September 7. The church is located at 885 4th Street in Blaine.