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Pastor's path: prisoners to patients to parishioners

New Valley pastor also leads chaplains in Hays

Staff writer

In the tradition of Methodist circuit riders, Ron Devore has taken over as pastor this summer at Valley United Methodist Church in Marion.

Devore, who lives in Pretty Prairie, preaches three Sundays a month. His wife, Angela, also a pastor, is serving churches in Pretty Prairie, Arlington, and Murdock.

He’s off the third Sunday of each month and also works a full-time job as pastoral care supervisor at Hays Medical Center, where he coordinates its chaplain program.

“I just love what I do,” he said.

Devore has served churches in Lyons; Garden Center; Bloomfield, Iowa; Bern; and Hutchinson.

He served a United Church of Christ at Bern. UCC churches have a “search and call” system for finding pastors. Methodist churches use an assignment system.

Ministry is Devore’s second career. His first was working in Shawnee County’s community corrections program, where he was an intensive supervision officer.

During his time there, the county built a new jail because its 1960s jail no longer met federal standards. The old jail became home to the community corrections program.

“It was a fascinating time,” he said.

One of the things that happens in community corrections is that clients become more compliant around holiday times so their holiday plans will be approved.

“I had been doing emergency services chaplain work just for fun,” he said.

While he was in seminary, his son, Sam, was baptized probably 50 times as seminarians practiced baptisms.

One of his observations about Valley church is that the COVID-19 pandemic inspired the church to increase its use of social media.

“Valley has a lot of potential for growing their digital church,” he said.

Devore dislikes being called “reverend.” He doesn’t believe the title fits. His business card says “storyteller.”

“I’ve got the greatest story that ever was,” he said.

He finds ways to tell that story from new perspectives.

He likes to hear people say, “you know, I never thought of it that way before.”

People can learn scripture in depth by reading it deeply, he said.

“Don’t skip over words, and if there are words you don’t know, go look them up,” he said.

In a lectionary before each service, he encourages congregation members to read four different scriptures

“When people say they didn’t get anything out of the sermon, I ask them what they put into it,” he said.

He’d rather have people say that’s not the way they see the scripture and tell him why than have people pat him on the back and tell him what a good guy he is.

He said he was impressed with the church at Marion. The congregation is accustomed to a lot of pastoral rotation and is very capable of getting things done.

Previous pastor Martin Holler established care circles.

“The members recognize they’ve still got skin in the game,” he said. “They’re interested.”

During the week, he lives in Hays with cats Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Franklin likes to be called “Mr. President,” Devore said.

He also keeps a Labrador retriever and German shepherd mix.

At home in Pretty Prairie are a Yorkshire terrier and a calico cat.

He and his wife have three grown children, Margie in Hutchinson, Emily in Kansas City, and Sam in Denver.

Last modified Aug. 31, 2022

 

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