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Blazing new path on an old trail

In the pulpit

POSTED: March 13, 2007 5:15 a.m.
Being the pastor of a church is an awesome assignment, but becoming the pastor of the 135-year old historic Midway Congregational United Church of Christ is quite an honor and humbling experience.
This young pastor made history when she took over the pastorship of Midway Congregational on July 30, 2006. Pastor Tewana C. LeCounte is the first female pastor of this historic church and is only 39 years old.
In the months prior to returning to Liberty County, she traveled from Atlanta to preach at the Midway Congregational UCC every other week.
“Midway Congregational UCC is the first place to which I have been called to serve as pastor,” LeCounte said. “However, I have been involved with ministry for many years.”
The historic Midway Congregational Church sits on the same ground as the historic Dorchester Academy (now Dorchester Center). On many occasions, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., visited the center and church for training sessions and meetings. King also stayed at the center on several occasions.
“There is a long-standing legacy that exists between Midway Congregational and the historic Dorchester Academy. Their creation came by the same person, the Rev. William Golding who served as a representative in the Georgia State House in the 1800s,” LeCounte said.
“He founded the all-African congregation at the current location and lobbied the American Missionary Association to create a school at the present location and to send a minister who could preach the gospel, teach academics, and be a school administrator. The AMA responded and supported both the Church and Dorchester for over 100 years (directly and through its successor, the UCC).”
As the church’s new pastor, Lecounte said the first ministry she is promoting is to make each person a committed believer who is in “love with Christ and is at peace with others and acting like it wherever and with whoever they are. We are developing and restructuring our ministries to ensure their relevance to the demands, needs, and spiritual journeys of growing and aging families.”
Lecounte said it is truly a new day for the church.
“We are challenged with reinventing ourselves and posturing ourselves for a world that is changing at lightening speeds. We are challenged to attract younger people, not just because it is in vogue, but because it is essential to our survival, as we are an aging congregation.”
“This is a great time for those with creative talents and gifts to join us in this redevelopment process. Right now, we are poised to seek a musician to help enhance our music program. The legendary minister of music extraordinaire, Deborah Robinson, is retiring at the end of May.”
LeCounte credits her late great-aunt, Annie Mae Jackson LeCounte with having a profound impact on her life.
“She ‘agaped’ me my whole life and never let me forget who I was and whose I was, no matter what my life yielded.”
LeCounte is a graduate of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology with a master’s of theological studies degree, with a faith and health concentration.
“A long time ago, I was chosen as a Heinz Scholar, and I studied Spanish and history in Merida, Venezuela, at the University of the Andes,” she said.
As pastor of Midway Congregational, Lecounte automatically serves on the board of directors of the Dorchester Improvement Association and is member of the Liberty County Branch of NAACP. She was recently selected as Chaplain of the Day by the Georgia House of Representatives. In addition to being a busy pastor, Lecounte is employed as the grants administrator for the city of Hinesville. She works for the Community Development Department.
“I was asked to deliver the unity prayer and blessings at the Georgia State Black Caucus Annual Heritage Dinner in Atlanta on Feb. 19. The event drew several people from Liberty County among the crowd of 500-600 attendees, and it was a tremendous honor for me and the Church,” she said.
LeCounte enjoys crossword puzzles, creative writing, attending fine arts performances (symphony, theatre, ballet, and opera), and watching Jeopardy and Deal or No Deal with her paternal grandmother (Louise LeCounte). She lives in Ludowici.
 

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