ELKTON — The Rev. Jason Cornish keeps four tenets in mind as he pastors Providence United Methodist Church.
“I am here to empower the people to do the work of God ... teach them how to live a Christ-like lifestyle ... get back to the basics of what a church is for and the community is why we are here, point blank,” Cornish said.
The church at 157 East High St. in Elkton is his fourth congregation. He comes to Cecil County by way of Georgia and Alaska. Raised a Baptist, educated in Catholic schools, Cornish received a call to ministry at 14. He considers himself a “pastor’s kid of sorts” since he was raised by a woman of strong faith who was — and still is — active in her church and is a voracious lifelong learner.
Cornish is a bi-vocational pastor, meaning he has a full time job and is considered by the Peninsular Delaware Conference of the United Methodist Church to be a part-time pastor. However he said the life of any church cannot be limited by a 20-hour work week.
“We have one service on Sunday morning at 9,” Cornish said. However, he noted there are events in the life of a congregation such as weddings, funerals and hospital visitations that stretch well beyond that 20 hour window.
Cornish is OK with that because he understands that his faith also means service and a life of sacrifice.
“I am always looking for new thoughts and ideas to serve the community better,” he said. He hopes that a new Midweek Meditation will launch soon, which will allow people to call in to a toll-free number and take part in a five minute devotion with scripture reading and a Q&A session.
He has also taken on the role of youth group leader for Elkton United Methodist Church, noting that the current Providence UMC building was the home of Elkton UMC until Elkton UMC moved to East Main Street.
Cornish earned his first college degree in music and planned to be a professional musician. Now with a degree from seminary, he has found a way to make his dual passions work together.
“My job is to be transparent,” he said. He does not want his congregation to see him as perfect because, he says, he is also still growing.
“I want them to see God through me and see God in me but I’m not God,” he said. He plans to take his church deeper into an understanding of the Bible and who God is with plans to take that knowledge beyond the four walls of the sanctuary.
“If you can’t see the humanity in the Bible you can’t see the divinity,” he explained.
Since arriving at Providence Nov. 1, Cornish has found that although the congregation is small in numbers it is big in more important ways.
“It’s a small church with a big heart that serves a bigger God,” he said.