House serving united parish

Methodist pastor follows in father’s footsteps

Methodist Pastor Jim House has recently received a rare opportunity for a member of the clergy.

He is serving in the church where his father was a pastor when Jim was growing up — Simpson-Temple United Parish.

Ironically, Jim’s father, Jay, was the first pastor to lead the united church that serves both Methodists and Lutherans.

When Simpson United Methodist and Temple Lutheran churches became one congregation more than 40 years ago, the union was approved with the agreement that when a pastor left, his or her replacement would represent the other denomination.

With the retirement of the Rev. Denise Arpino, a Lutheran minister, at the end of 2017, a Methodist minister is to follow her.

The original union of the two churches began in the 1970s when Temple Lutheran was without a pastor. Because the churches were next door to each other, the Rev. Jay House was granted permission to serve both of them.

Jim House said he was about 8 or 9 years old when his father began his dual preaching duties.

“I can remember as a boy finishing up the service at Simpson, going out the back door, across the parking lot and into Temple’s sacristy. I was an acolyte at both churches,” he said.

House, who also serves Broad Avenue and Mardorf United Methodist churches, said his new assignment is rewarding.

“Simpson-Temple was my home church, and it will always be my home church,” he said.

His latest role has another special meaning.

“I get to stand and preach in the same pulpit as my dad,” he said.

House said quite a few members remember him from his childhood and teen years with one member even referring to him as “Pastor Jimmy.”

“It is exciting to be their pastor,” he said, “to help them move forward and to find ways to do ministry together. It is really a neat thing.”

House said his parents, who live in Mechanicsburg, are also pleased about his new position.

He said when he first told his father about the possibility, his dad responded that it would be a good ministry opportunity.

“He told me to think and pray about it, but I could detect the excitement in his voice,” House said.

At this point, House is not sure if the assignment is temporary or permanent, but he has already reached out to the Allegheny Lutheran Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Any pastor who leads Simpson-Temple must work with both faith traditions.

Having been the pastor of three or four churches at one time in the past, House said the challenge is not new to him.

On Sundays, House said he starts his day with a worship service at 9 a.m. at Broad Avenue United Methodist. He then travels to Simpson-Temple United Parish for the

10 a.m. service and then goes to Mardorf United Methodist Church to deliver his final sermon of the day at its 11 a.m. service. House said someone starts the services with the call to worship and singing at Simpson-Temple and Mardorf churches to free him up for travel time.

“It seems to be working out,” he said.