There’s new excitement in what’s to come for the 10-year-old Christ Covenant Church of Hernando.
The Presbyterian church congregation recently sent a call to Pastor Jim Plunk to lead the church plant of Christ Presbyterian Church of Olive Branch. Plunk accepted and left New Covenant Presbyterian Church in McComb to begin his ministry with his wife Jody and their three children. With the beginning of this month, Plunk began his ministry to Christ Covenant.
“I particularly sense the excitement because this is a growing area and Hernando is a great place to live with growing schools,” Plunk said. “We have a great group of people here, so I think we are at the beginning of hopefully a great season.”
Plunk is aware of the Mid-South area because he grew up in Memphis and attended Bartlett, Tennessee area schools until he started high school. It was then when Plunk started attending Evangelical Christian School in Cordova and attending Riveroaks Presbyterian Church in Germantown, Tennessee.
“I responded to the Gospel message at a retreat in high school, took part in some leadership at my high school and also felt a call to ministry,” Plunk explained. “I started hearing about Covenant College, so I went there from 2002-2006. I played college soccer because I had played on some club teams in the Memphis area.”
Prior to seminary, Plunk served as a missionary to Ethiopia. It was there he met his future wife Jody.
“She was also a missionary there from her Anglican church in England,” Plunk said. “I was doing some teaching and counseling with HIV patients. Her parents were actually over here doing some Anglican church planting in Alabama and Mississippi.”
While working in the St. Louis, Missouri area where their three children were born, the family moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for Plunk to work as a youth pastor.
It was during that time before and during the ministry in Murfreesboro a change in the family’s life was discovered.
“When we were in Missouri toward the end of our time there we started doing some sensory therapy with our oldest because she had some pretty significant eating issues as an infant, so we knew there was some sensory stuff there,” Plunk explained. “When we moved to Murfreesboro for my first call as a youth pastor, she was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at Vanderbilt. The early intervention shaped her over the three years we were there.”
After the move to McComb to lead New Covenant Presbyterian, the family continued to provide treatment for their daughter, but it came with a lot of miles on a road traveled often.
“During the three years in McComb, Ellie had started school and we just started becoming aware of more needs educationally and medically,” Plunk explained. “Even up to 18 months ago, we had started driving up to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for monthly medical appointments.”
The move to Hernando fulfilled the need for a congregation to be led and for a family wanting to care for their child.
“We began to pray about a calling as a pastor to a church, but the primary calling was as a husband and a father,” Plunk said. “We sought counsel from mentors and friends, and it was about that time there was an opening here in Hernando.”
Initial impressions about his new church home is that the congregation is warm and excited about what is to come for the church.
“They’re eager for me to get started and for us to get to know each other more and just see where the Lord takes us,” Plunk said. “One of the things that I’m already impressed with is that we have deep roots with the Palmer Home for Children. Just this past week we were partnering with the Interfaith Council of churches around here in preparation of school starting to get some backpacks with school supplies for kids in need.”
Away from the pulpit and attending to church duties, Jim and Jody share two passions: soccer and brewing beer.
“It’s great that I married a Brit because she enjoys soccer, as well,” Plunk explained. “My wife is English so we like to brew beer together. My dad started brewing beer, so we started into it. Jody and I will do it like a date night together at our house.”
The family is also looking forward to getting more active in the Hernando community, especially since their children will all be attending Hernando schools.
“Our kids are going to be involved in different activities in the school system and my wife was heavily involved in the school system in McComb, so she’ll probably plug in to Hernando, as well,” Plunk said.
But growing the spiritual life of his new church will be front of mind.
“I want to continue to see the Gospel go forward in word and deed to make a tangible impact on the community,” Plunk said. “ I can continue to have that outward face so people who have not really been to church in awhile, a long time, or who are hurting and questioning the faith are welcomed into our community and struggle with those things. We want to create a church where my own family would be welcomed in the midst of suffering, difficulty and questions.”
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.