Keith R. Moore was content serving as youth spiritual leader at Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church in Harrisburg, where he was ordained two years ago.
He considered it his calling. But he now believes God had other plans. He remembers the Rev. Dr. James D. Jackson, senior pastor at Goodwin church, telling him to be careful.
"He told me, 'God can put you anywhere,'" Moore said.
That anywhere is Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Altoona where Moore will be installed as the new pastor at noon on May 17.
"I consider it a blessing to come here," said Moore of the new position. "It proves to me that God can do anything. I am overjoyed that the congregation chose me."
Moore, 56, grew up in Goodwin church and has been serving in some capacity since his teenage years.
He was in the youth choir, a trustee for eight years, a deacon for about nine years and director of children's church for five years.
After acquiring a degree in Christian Studies and Youth Ministry at the Christian Leadership Institute in Harrisburg, he served as a licensed minister for two years before being ordained in 2012. As a licensed minister he could preach, but not officiate at weddings and funerals.
It was at a Good Friday preaching commitment two years ago that he caught the attention of the Rev. Dr. Calvin C. Edmonds, pastor emeritus at Mount Zion church. Moore was one of the ministers speaking on the Last Seven Words of Christ at Macedonia Missionary Bible Church in Harrisburg.
Edmonds, who retired in January 2012, proposed that Moore preach for a Sunday at Mount Zion because the church has some weeks when it needed a minister.
Moore said he delivered a message in early 2013 and learned that the church was looking for a full-time pastor. He applied for the position and returned in the fall of 2013 to preach as a candidate.
He not only preached, he sang "Jesus, You're the Center of My Joy" a capella.
Moore attributes his singing ability to his father, Edgar, and his love for children to his mother, Delores.
His father sang in a well-known Christian group called the Emperors, when Moore was growing up. His mother baby-sat for 25 years, Moore said. She always welcomed children to their home, where he was raised with two brothers and three sisters, he said.
Edgar Moore suffered from diabetes, and Keith took him for dialysis treatments for eight years before he died. Keith was a licensed minister at the time and remembers his father's words.
"He said, 'God is going to use you. You will do big things for the Lord, but I will not be here to see it,'" Moore said.
His mother, Moore said, has a passion for children to do well, and they always flocked to her.
He believes he inherited that passion from her. A former semi-pro football strong safety, he has coached kids on the gridiron and shared God's love with them in youth groups. Moore seems to be able to communicate with the teens on their level. He shared that the kids wanted to do what they called a talent show, but the senior pastor hesitated.
What they really wanted was a night to express their faith in music, poetry, rap and mime dance. No competition was involved, and the program ended up being a night of ministry with one girl being asked to minister at another church event.
Moore and his wife, Ruth, are excited about being part of Mount Zion. They will commute on weekends from Harrisburg where Ruth is director of business development for the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute and Moore is pursing a Master of Divinity degree at Lancaster Theological Seminary.
As Mount Zion's new pastor, Moore sees himself working with all generations. He envisions starting a day care center and addressing the needs of seniors, such as helping them with shopping.
"We need to love each other and care for each other," he said. "If you are hurting I am hurting. We will grow as a family."
The Mirror asked Moore the following questions:
What is your favorite Scripture and why?
Palm 51 which says "Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me."
When God's finger of love wakes me up in the morning, I pray this prayer. Because we face challenges every day, I want to always have a heart that loves people and the Spirit of God to lead me as a man and as a pastor.
What are you talents/spiritual gifts?
Pastor, singing, preaching, teaching.
What do you like most about your job?
Seeing young people grow into disciples for Christ inside and out. Watching them working in the church, studying their Bibles, getting good grades, and letting God lead them in every aspect of their lives.
I also like visiting our senior citizens. I get a great deal of wisdom from the stories they tell, and their accounts of how to serve in the church.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That my wife was born and raised in England and I have a stepson, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren who live in London.
What are your
I love stage plays; and watching a good movie, watching sports, listening to music, singing and acting, exercising, traveling and going out to dinner.
How does your church serve others?
It serves though clothing drives, a prison ministry and food bank.