New pastor helps shepherd his flock with a chain saw

New Rogersville First UMC Pastor Loren Boyce trims branches with a chain saw to a fallen 75-foot tree on Broadway Street in Rogersville Thursday afternoon.

The Rev. Loren Boyce hadn’t been on his new job but a few days when duty called multiple times on Thursday.

The new pastor at Rogersville First United Methodist Church was pulling the church’s float advertising Vacation Bible School in the Rogersville Fourth of July Parade.

Then Boyce’s wife, the Rev. Jessica Boyce, saw Karen Clayton doing trimming on a 75-foot tall pine tree that fell across her driveway from a neighbor’s yard, blocking Karen from getting out.

Clayton, an employee at Walmart in Morristown, moved to her residence on Broadway Street 13 years ago.

“The tree belonged to my neighbor. It’s a pretty old tree,” Karen said. “I couldn’t get out. That’s why we were trying to cut the smaller limbs so I could get out to go to work.”

Jessica asked if Karen needed help, but she said that her son Justin was coming by after he got off of work to cut it.

Loren asked if the wind had knocked the tree down, Karen said that it came down after 11 on Wednesday night.

“The tree didn’t make a big old noise, my grandchildren Eli and Addison were staying the night when Eli was looking outside the picture window,” Clayton said. “He thought he saw the motion detection light was flickering, but it was the tree coming down in front of the street light. That’s what got his attention. Eli came and got me.”

After the parade was over, volunteers from RFUMC sprang into action.

Loren, who grew up on a farm in Colorado, brought his chain saw. Ryan Blackwell, the youth minister and Tina Littleton, children’s ministries coordinator, rounded up other helpers to clear the brush and debris from the driveway and yard, along with Garrison Risner and Nathaniel Littleton, members of the youth group.

Even Eli got in on the action, taking branches to the curb.

Justin arrived with another chainsaw and the clearing began.

When the job was done, Karen wanted to make a donation to the church for clearing her driveway and property, but Pastor Loren refused, telling her that inviting her grandchildren to VBS would be enough.

“I sure appreciate everybody coming. All of this help is wonderful,” Karen said. “That was so nice that the (Rev. Jessica) said they would get some help to get that tree out of here.”

“We must live out our Christianity,” Loren said.

“If you see a need, go and help. That was some mighty wind in the storm. Some folks got hit harder than others. Folks do not need to be United Methodist in order for Rogersville FUMC to help. Church is way more than Sunday. Church is what you do every day of the week and then gather on Sunday to celebrate how God has given us opportunities all week long. In this case we were pulling our float from the parade and had the real chance to celebrate the Fourth of July with our neighbors — not with fireworks but with chainsaws and work gloves,” Loren said.

“Rev. Jessica has a real eye for finding ways to help our neighbors. Glad I listened to her on our way back from the parade,” Loren added.

The Boyces come to Rogersville from Trinity United Methodist Church of Athens, Tennessee. They have two boys, Xander and Zachary.

After all that, Boyce still had his regular job, to preach a sermon, on Sunday morning. He got a head start on it by showing love to others with his chain saw.