There is a new minister in town.
Or towns, actually as Pastor T.J. McCabe started his duties at the United Methodist churches in Dalton and Factoryville on July 1.
“This is my third year as a minister,” McCabe said, explaining that he served at Lake Como for the previous two years.
At the request of Susquehanna Conference Bishop Jeremiah Park, McCabe moved to the area, and replaces Pastor Peter Raser.
It was a bit of a long road for McCabe before he found his calling as a Methodist minister.
Hailing from Hughesville, McCabe explained that he was taking undergraduate courses at Lycoming College, with the idea of becoming an ordained minister.
But the process turned out to have unexpected results.
“It really shook my world,” McCabe said about the experience. “I ran from it.”
The reason, he explained, is because the courses presented the aspects of various faiths, challenging a number of conceptions he had about religion in the process.
“I was really blind in my faith,” McCabe said. “I kept telling myself - it had to be wrong.”
Turning to music as a profession, McCabe graduated from Lycoming, with the idea of singing on cruise ships. This never materialized, but for a number of years McCabe used his musical knowledge and a background in computers to obtain employment in various areas.
On his first date with his future wife, Alyson asked him point blank if he intended to continue to pursue a career in the ministry.
“She told me if it was so our relationship wasn’t going to go any further,” McCabe recalled.
McCabe told Alyson he had no intention of becoming a minister, and they eventually became engaged.
However, the Lord sometimes really does work in mysterious ways.
Before they were married, McCabe said, he and Alyson were attending a Bible study class, when she observed to him that “This is what you really want to do.”
When McCabe confirmed this, Alyson was now supportive of the idea and after they were married he began attending Drew Seminary in Madison, N.J.
“My wife has been very supportive, which I find ironic, considering she was against it when we first went out,” McCabe said.
McCabe is a local licensed pastor in the United Methodist Church.
“I’m still considered a seminary student,” McCabe said, explaining that he attends classes each week from Tuesday through Thursday.
McCabe is working to obtain his Master of Divinity. Then he will submit a paper to the church’s Board of Ordained Ministry to become a provisional elder.
“The welcome we received from the community has been wonderful,” McCabe said about how he and his wife have been getting along since they arrived in the area.
He said he’s impressed that the churches in Dalton and Factoryville are so community oriented - including a food bank operating at Factoryville, and a Cub Scout Pack located at the Dalton church.
He said he is looking forward to offering his experience in music to the two congregations.
“I’m feeling my way along,” McCabe said. “I’m looking forward to spreading the message of Christianity, and helping the churches grow.”