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Cornelius News

Bethel Presbyterian has a new senior pastor

Bethel Presbyterian Pastor Aaron Moore / Photo by Bradford MacKay

April 21. By Dave Yochum. You can call the new pastor at Bethel Presbyterian Pastor, Pastor Aaron, or just Aaron, but know that Aaron is pronounced with a long A, like faith.

Moore, who came on board at Bethel in February, comes amidst change in the church nationwide. Bethel is an ECO church, the official name of Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, an evangelical Presbyterian denomination in the United States.

It was established in 2012 by former congregations and members of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which had a more liberal take on LGBTQ policies. To explain what Bethel is like, Moore said while conservative is a good word, “Bethel is also evangelical and egalitarian. Those two words may add more descriptive language to our identity.”

He suggested Bethel “had somewhat misplaced their identity” over the past several years, not unlike various denominations which have weathered declining membership in recent decades.

A new season

Moore delivered his first sermon at the 195-year-old church on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the seven-week season leading up to the holiest day of the church calendar.

“We’re gaining our footing again to be what God has called us to be in the community,” Moore said. “It’s a new season at Bethel.”

Two Sunday services attract about 200 people each week, with attendance trending upward.

Moore said it’s been like drinking from a firehose since he arrived in Cornelius, coming from Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Ga. where he served as senior pastor/head of staff.

The youngest of four boys, he grew up in a middle class (Presbyterian) church-going home in Charlotte and is a graduate of Garinger High School.

He and his wife Sarah met at Gardner-Webb University and have been married for 23 years and have four children. For now, they have rented a home in Huntersville.

His calling

Moore originally had no plans for college, and seized an opportunity to become a white water guide. Amidst nature and physical challenges he looked for meaning, for truth, and kept coming back to how he was raised in Robinson Presbyterian Church in East Charlotte.

We’re gaining our footing again to be what God has called us to be in the community. It’s a new season at Bethel.”

Aaron Moore, Senior Pastor Bethel Presbyterian Church

“It’s hard to articulate the work of the Spirit of God but I’m convinced the Lord had me on that journey of questioning life and beliefs. Through opening the Bible and reading it on my own, I had an intent to really understand and to find answers to my questions,” Moore said.

He studied music composition at Gardner-Webb and developed his ministry at a church in Shelby. After graduation, he was called into full-time ministry that led him to Grace Community Church in Boca Raton where he served as director of music. He earned a Master of Divinity at Knox Theological Seminary.

In 2013, Moore was called back home to be the Associate Pastor of Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church, where his parents attended. He soon developed a love for congregational care and young adult ministry.

His next call was to Eastminster Presbyterian during which time be began his Doctor of Ministry degree in Discipleship and Outreach Ministries at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte.

Coming home

The call to Bethel is like coming home, Moore explained. He has plenty to do in addition to preparing for Holy Week, including Easter Sunrise Service at 7 am, followed by a light continental breakfast in the Fellowship Hall. (Church services are held at 9 am and 11.)

Vacation Bible School returns in June while ministries like grief and Alzheimer’s support, pre-school, Haitian outreach, Children’s Hope Alliance, Watchmen of the Streets, the Neighborhood Care Center in Cornelius and the Charlotte Rescue Mission are ongoing.

The annual Bar-B-Q may not come back in its former glory this fall, but he is pondering a return of the Wednesday evening dinner and Bible study.

Moore makes hospital visits on a regular basis, and he’s enthused about Sunday services continuing to be live-streamed as a way to get the message out.

Long term, there’s the 200th anniversary of the church in 2028.

“We plan to be here for the 200th anniversary,” Moore said. “We want to be a voice and to serve Cornelius.”