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Cumming First UMC welcomes new pastor

Ross will follow retiring Cromartie

POSTED: June 22, 2013 12:27 a.m.


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After about 16 years at Cumming First United Methodist Church, the Rev. John Cromartie gave his final sermon Sunday.

The 72-year-old has retired, as required by the denomination, and is ready to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren.

“It’s very difficult to leave, because for over 16 years, you’re with a group of great people, you work together in ministry ... so it’s not easy on them and it’s not easy on me. But it’s a part of life,” Cromartie said.

“It’s been a great stay at [the church] and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but it’s probably time.

“At my last sermon ... I basically said there’s a time to arrive at a place and there’s a time to depart, and it’s my time now to depart.”

The church will welcome its new minister, Jeff Ross, on Sunday, when he offers his first sermon. This will be Ross’ third church, with his most recent service in Dahlonega, where he spent the past 10 years.

Like Cromartie, Ross said he will miss his former congregation, but is looking forward to fostering new relationships.

“The title of my sermon [Sunday] is ‘Greetings’ and I’m just going to say, ‘Hi, I’m looking forward to getting started and I hope you all give me a chance to get to know you,’” Ross said.

“Rev. Cromartie has done a great job. He’s been there for [so long] and people love him and respect him. So coming in after someone’s done a great job like that, it takes a while.”

“I’m nervous and excited all at the same time.”

Ross, who has three grown daughters and a son in college, said he plans to move to Forsyth soon with his wife of 33 years, Sherry. Though ordained in 1984, Ross said he didn’t consider the ministry as a career until he attended what was then West Georgia College.

During a speech class, Ross talked about the difference between heaven and hell.

“At the end of the speech, the whole class kind of went, ‘Well, I don’t know if that was a good speech, but it would have been a good sermon,’” Ross recalled. “I’d never thought of preaching in my life, but that was just sort of the spark that made me start.”

According to Ross, the transition will come with a learning curve as he meets his new congregation and learns more about the church’s work. 

As Ross works to prepare for his new duties, Cromartie was on a flight to New Hampshire with his grandson for a weeklong vacation in the White Mountains. The retiree will then head to the Appalachian Trail, where he’ll spend a month hiking.

Cromartie feels the church is in good hands.

“[Ross] is just an ideal person to take my place,” he said. “He’s got good personal skills ... and I think he’s got some great ideas for ministry, so I’m very optimistic for what he’ll do and the future of the congregation. I couldn’t be more pleased.”


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