It is with great excitement that the Interim Pastor Nominating Committee and the Session of Shallowford Presbyterian Church announce that Rev. John M. Semmes will be coming to Shallowford on Monday, September 10, 2018, as our Interim Pastor.
John is a skilled preacher and an experienced leader who possesses wisdom and insight to lead Shallowford through our transition to our next called pastor. We are excited for you to get to know John and for you to be able to experience his ministry here at Shallowford.
Please take time to read John’s bio, the IPNC’s personal statements about him, statements from those who know him well, and his letter to you.
Meet Rev. John M. Semmes
Rev. John M. Semmes has been Pastor and Head of Staff of the 850-member First Presbyterian Church in Oxford, Mississippi since 2004, a congregation that has experienced significant growth during his service. Previously, he served as Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky.
Prior to ministry, he enjoyed successful sales careers in both media and medicine in his hometown of Memphis before becoming a second-career seminary student at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned his Masters of Divinity in 2001 and received the Jagow Prize for Preaching. A graduate of Memphis University School and the University of Tennessee, John and Cindy, his wife of 27 years, are parents to Emily, a UGA and Vanderbilt alumna and an elementary school teacher in Nashville, and Sophie, an Auburn alumna and graduate student in psychology at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. In his free time, John enjoys music, art, reading, sports, exercise, and trips to the beach.
Personal Statements from the IPNC
John is going to be a great guide for Shallowford through the transition process to our next Senior Pastor. I am confident that he will connect with the congregation and staff in ways that will not only continue our momentum but push us forward during this period. John’s proven leadership of a theologically and politically diverse congregation will be invaluable during his time with us. I believe we are truly blessed to have John coming to Shallowford as our Interim Pastor. -Alan Rosselot
When I first talked to John over the phone, I didn’t know much about him, but quickly felt we had known each other for many, many years. The more I learned, the more excited I became. He possesses everything we want in an Interim Pastor—gifted preaching, collegial leadership, pastoral compassion, and a yearning for the church to be the best it can be for Christ in the world. He will work to help us “connect Sunday with Monday” in all we do. -Carolyn Carl
During his visit to Shallowford, John quickly grasped Shallowford as a place of grace. His desire to continue Shallowford’s welcoming ministry that is intentionally inter-generational acknowledges the legacy of those men and women who understand that such practices are aligned with Christ’s vision for the church. As we journey together with John for this brief time, we will lay a firm foundation for our next Senior Pastor. -Brad Bryant
John is genuine, energetic, and very funny. He sees his calling to walk alongside church members through their faith journeys as a sacred privilege, and it is clear that he cherishes these relationships. He embraces the idea that God needs each of us to be our unique selves, and so believes church should be a place where everyone is welcome to come as they are. He approaches the hard questions of faith with a spirit of community–“let’s learn this together”–even as he acknowledges that we can’t know the answer to every question. I am so grateful John will be coming to Shallowford! -Lynn Marie Trotti
John brings a remarkable energy and quick-witted nature to the pulpit. His vision pushed First Presbyterian to new heights as we engaged and attracted potential members to the ministry of the Church. John also has the fine talent of walking a fine line theologically, never compromising the core of Jesus’s sacrificial love but able to speak both pastorally and prophetically without giving in to the simplistic themes of our cultural wars. I’m jealous I cannot enjoy the rich experience coming your way.
-Rev. Dr. Doug Sullivan-Gonzalez, Dean, Sally M. Barksdale Honors College, The University of Mississippi
John’s many gifts include extraordinary sermons which are always grounded in scripture and often challenge me to understand the passage in a new or different way. He is truly a teacher. He is also a thoughtful counselor and pastor to his flock as well as a capable administrator.
-Ruthann Ray, Former Member of First Presbyterian Church of Oxford
A Letter from Rev. John M. Semmes
I am honored and excited to serve as interim pastor at Shallowford Presbyterian Church. In recent weeks, “informed sources” have told me what a wonderful and vibrant congregation you comprise, what a talented staff you have and what great things are happening at SPC. The more I learned about you, the more interested I was in becoming a part of your faith community.
Your Interim Pastor Nominating Committee has also represented you well, and I am deeply grateful for their hospitality and professional courtesy during the search process. The same is true of your former pastor, Chris Henry, whose words about the people of Shallowford still resonate: “They’re not just going through the motions as a church,” he told me. “They actually like each other!” What higher praise is there than that?
During this next period in the life of Christ’s church on Shallowford Road, we will continue building upon your established strengths in worship, music, education, fellowship and outreach…and we’ll have a lot of fun doing it. In addition, we will also anticipate together a future of God’s unfolding in which the person already ordained by God to become your next pastor is identified and called. To that end, let us all pray for the Holy Spirit to move abundantly over and through the committee you will elect to do such important work. I can assure you that, even now, they will covet our petitions on their behalf.
Cindy and I very much look forward to being with you in September and to becoming residents of Greater Atlanta.
Grace and peace to you always,