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Off the roof and into the ministry — new UMC minister falls for God PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 05 August 2010 19:22

By Tina Kitt

The Wauneta Breeze


Sometimes it seems that clergy members have all the answers, easily cruising along buoyed by a lifetime of unquestioning faith.

As with most stereotypes that assumption is rarely, if ever, the case.

Take Pastor Bonnie McCord — the Osh-kosh, Neb., native came to a calling to the ministry later in life, and through an unconventional epiphany.

“I fell off a roof and found God,” says Pastor B. in explaining her “Road to Damascus” experience at the age of 39.

Now in her early 50s, she became the pastor of the Wauneta and Palisade United Methodist Churches on July 1, replacing Pastor Judy Dye who is now part of a pastoral team serving three churches in Lincoln.

Pastor B. has lived a Christ-centered life since that summer day in 1998.

“I had felt God calling me into faith for a long, long time,” said Bonnie, of her spiritual journey. She had grown up in a family that did not attend church, her father suspicious of organized religion. One of the first times he attended church was the first Sunday his daughter presided over church services in Big Springs.

Bonnie, on the other hand, was destined to be a spiritual seeker.

She grew up on a ranch 25 miles northeast of Oshkosh, graduated from high school and headed off to college at Kearney State.

Through an exchange program she attended her senior year of college at the Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., where she went on to earn a master’s degree in geography.

She returned to Oshkosh after job prospects proved slim and started dating a lifelong friend, Terry McCord. He was living in Aspen, Colo., where he worked in construction and suggested that she move to Aspen where jobs were available in the glitzy mountain town.

They were later married and had two sons, Will and Ian, living in Rifle, Colo., before returning to Oshkosh in 1996. There Terry continued to work in construction. Bonnie worked at the Garden County Road Department and assisted her husband.

Church played a role in their lives as a young family, but only a small one. Her husband’s family are United Methodists and that is the church in which Bonnie and Terry were married and their two boys were baptized.

But it wasn’t until a roofing accident in 1998 that church and a personal relationship with God became an integral part of their lives.

She believed there was a supreme being, but wasn’t so sure about a “personal” God.

“I knew I needed to find faith or walk away from the church,” says Bonnie, crediting the United Methodist pastor in Oshkosh with keeping her interested in the church “long enough for God to catch me.”

Her rational, science-oriented mind made it difficult for her to believe in something as abstract as a personal savior.

“I prayed to God for a sign, for something concrete to believe in,” says Bonnie. Two months later she got a very concrete message when she tripped while working on a reshingling job, falling from the roof top onto the concrete driveway below.

Landing on her backside with her head snapping hard against the concrete surface, she miraculously got up and walked away without a broken bone or any injury to her head. Instead, “I walked away with a calling in the ministry.”

The change was immediate and profound.

“I felt that God had saved my life and at that moment the Holy Spirit had touched me,” says Pastor B., adding, “I fell off a roof and found God.”

Pastor Bonnie McCord is the new pastor at the Wauneta and Palisade United Methodist Churches. (Courtesy Photo)

A new life

Fast forward 12 years — the McCord boys are grown. Will, now 22, works in the tourism industry near Mount Rushmore in Keystone, S.D., and is involved in Face 2 Face Ministries, a summer discipleship in ministry.

Ian, 19, graduated from Garden County High School in 2009 and has spent the past year serving in the Army. He is presently stationed in Seoul, South Korea and recently attained the rank of Private First Class.

Terry is still in construction and is a Garden County Commissioner. He has learned to share his wife with the church.

Bonnie became a Licensed Local Pastor in 2003, serving as pastor of the Big Springs UMC, commuting to the town from Oshkosh.

She completed the requirements to become an Associate Member to the Nebraska Annual Conference and served as an Associate Pastor at the North Platte UMC from 2009-2010, living in North Platte part of the week and focusing on youth ministry.

In June, Bonnie moved to Wauneta with her two parsonage cats, Lily and Sasha.

Terry continues to live in Oshkosh and the couple has learned to maintain a long distance relationship.

For years Bonnie has travelled along Highway 6 through the Frenchman River Valley past Wauneta and Palisade when her family would make the journey to visit her grandfather’s grave in McCook.

She often thought to herself, “This looks like a nice place to live. I could live here.”

Now she does.

Bonnie finished another round of coursework in Denver recently, and will begin two new classes this fall at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver as she pursues ordination as an Elder in the United Methodist Church and a master’s degree in theological studies.

In her spare time Pastor B. loves to read, garden, cook and play with her pets — she has two more cats in Oshkosh and two Labrador retrievers. She can be seen touring around town on her new pastel green and blue bicycle, outfitted with a black wire basket.

She is becoming acquainted with the two new towns and her new church family, learning the ins and outs of a new assignment. “I already feel quite at home here,” she adds.