Allow me to begin by saying how excited I am to be here with you at Trinity.  This is my twelfth assignment as an interim minister.   The word interim means “an interval or period of time.”  Think of me as your temporary pastor who will be leading you through this time of transition from your former pastor, Dr. Juliette Spencer, until your new pastor arrives.  As the word “interim” implies, I will be serving for the brief interim of six months from January 1st  to June 30th.    We will work together to prepare for your new pastor who should arrive in July.  We have a lot of work to do together before your new pastor arrives.  Together we will look at our church’s history over the past 25 years and its identity.  We will also explore the direction God is calling our church and work together to  empower our leaders, strengthen our connection with the Louisiana Conference, and put together a hopeful plan for the future.  I’m going to be doing a lot of listening, and I look forward to hearing your stories about our church and the important role Trinity has played and continues to play in your lives!  

As for me, I am an ordained elder in the North Texas Conference (located around the Dallas area.) For the past 38 years, I have served as a pastor in United Methodist Churches throughout the North Texas area and as an interim minister in the Arkansas, New Mexico, North Texas and Texas conferences.  I graduated with my Master of Theology degree in 1981 and again in 1987 with my Doctor of Ministry degree in preaching.  I completed my training in interim ministry at the Texas Conference Center and am a leading trainer and current member and past president of the Transitional Intentional Interim Ministry Specialists Association (TIIMSA), our national organization of United Methodist interim ministers.  I also completed my graduate certification in mediation and conflict resolution at the S.M.U. School of Dispute Resolution completing 27 hours of study in conflict resolution, negotiation and mediation.

On a personal note, I’ve been married for 46 years to a beautiful redhead name Catherine Ingram Coats.  Cathy is an attorney practicing social security-disability and veteran’s law and is a senior partner at Coats & Todd.  We have two sons:  Christopher who is 36 and works in his mother’s law firm and our younger son, Zach who is 29 and working with a high tech firm in the Dallas area.  Our poodle, “Sammy” completes our family.   He will stay alternately with Cathy in Dallas and with me here in Ruston.   

During my brief tenure of service here some of you will notice I have a walking stick.  The walking stick is a symbol and reminder of the temporary nature of my ministry.  The walking stick reminds us that I am only “passing through” as we work together in preparation for your new pastor.  Despite the brevity of my service, I look forward to assisting and serving you.  

I know that the past year has been a very challenging one but I also know that the riches of God’s grace in Christ can bring spiritual healing and wholeness to our church.  I have seen God work many miracles through interim ministry.  I have personally witnessed as Paul once said, that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20). 

Pray that God will grant us healing, wholeness, wisdom and insight as we explore God’s plans for Trinity United Methodist Church.  May God in Christ guide and direct us as we journey together through the interim.

In Joyful Service,

Darrell Coats