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Pastor excited to expand her services to Ono, Maiden Rock

Pastor Grace Baldridge had her first services at Ono-Plum City United Methodist Church and Maiden Rock United Methodist Church on Feb. 4. These churches joined with Durand United Methodist Church and Baldridge will now do services at all three. Submitted photo

Feb. 1 marked the beginning of three area churches forming a new charge. Pastor Grace Baldridge has extended the congregations she serves from Durand United Methodist Church to include Ono-Plum City and Maiden Rock UMCs.

Baldridge has been at Durand UMC for four years and is now expanding the area she serves.

"Durand has been a wonderful experience," Baldridge said.

While at Durand, Baldridge said she had been working half time in order to be better prepared to serve the church. Not working fulltime gave her time to work on her certificate in spiritual formation.

This was important to Baldridge as she wanted to best serve her congregation.

"It's working with groups or individuals as kind of a shepherd on their faith journey," Baldridge said about spiritual formation. "Helping people discover their gifts so they can utilize what God has given them."

Baldridge said she is looking forward to working with children and youth to help guide them in their faith. She said young people need more than just reading Bible stories; at an early age children are already starting their faith journeys and need guidance in finding out what God means for them to do.

Growing up, Baldridge's faith journey started early on as she grew up in a Methodist family.

"Mom and Dad's family have been Methodist as long as records kept of our family," Baldridge said. "My dad's family going back [about 11 generations] had their name on one of the first churches in Maryland as a founding member."

However, Baldridge said she wasn't always willing to admit to herself that she wanted to go into seminary.

"I kind of resisted it," Baldridge said. "I thought for sure it [seminary] wasn't the life for me, [but] it was very evident that this was what God wanted for me."

In 2000, Baldridge served as a youth director in New Mexico and after working there for three years decided to "give in" and go to seminary school.

While she admits at times she has struggled with her own faith journey and questioned if being a pastor is what she is meant to do, she is happy to be serving the people.

Maiden Rock and Ono-Plum City UMC were already sharing a pastor and with the addition of Durand, Baldridge said she is looking forward to preaching at all three churches every Sunday. She said each of the churches is unique and she is looking forward to learning about each and from their congregations.

"I've felt very warmly welcomed at both places," Baldridge said. "There always is opportunity to learn and I look forward to learning more about them."

When starting with a new congregation, Baldridge said it is best to come in with an open mind, love and understanding.

One of the opportunities she would like to make available is gathering youth together for either a confirmation class or a youth gathering. Baldridge said any seventh or eighth grader interested in confirmation classes should contact the Durand UMC at 715-672-5611 or they can call her at 715-475-8562.

Church services starting Sun. Feb. 4 will be 8 a.m. in Maiden Rock, 9:15 a.m. at Ono-Plum City (with Sunday School held during part of the service) and 11 a.m. at Durand (Sunday School at 9:30). The churches decided to only use the Durand UMC phone number so anyone wishing to contact any of the churches should call the Durand UMC at 715-672-5611.