Preacher celebrates 30 years in pulpit

Ed McDaniels has enjoyed being just a full-time preacher this past year, which marks his 30th year in the pulpit at the Christian Fellowship Church in Buckhannon.

“It’s good to be out in the community,” he said. “To be able to get to hospitals and nursing homes and visit the people who need to be visited is rewarding.”

It’s not that McDaniels holed himself up in the church for the first 29 years of his work at the church. It was that he combined his preaching passion with being a teacher and administrator in the Upshur County school system. He retired in June 2012 after 33 years as an educator.

“I would not have traded my 33 years there for anything,” he said. “My profession kept me in close contact with the students and opened many opportunities for me to minister to them.”

It also allowed McDaniels and other local church leaders the chance to bring Bibles into the schools. He said they campaigned for and won the chance to set up a table at the high school, which allowed students to freely pick up religious literature if they chose to do so.

“Of course, the ACLU sued us, but they lost,” McDaniels said, noting that he has since received dozens of calls from other school systems as to how to successfully launch their own campaigns.

McDaniels originally had a six-church charge through the local United Methodist organization. But when the opportunity presented itself in 1983 to take charge of a single, non-denominational church, he took the chance. He assumed the pulpit on Sept. 11, 1983.

“Being a pastor and a teacher, I thought one church may be better,” he said.

He and his wife Janet celebrated their 38th year of marriage this past May. The couple had only two children, Matthew and Andrew, when they started with the Christian Fellowship Church, but the family has grown to include Jon, Alexis, Cora and now two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.

“I am continually thankful for having such support from them,” he said. “Our church family blesses us beyond words. Over the years, they have cried with us, laughed with us and joined me in many adventures that resulted in touching many lives for Him.”

McDaniels said it would be “neat” to be 87 years old and still be preaching at the same church for another 30 years.

“I look at the pastorate like I do coaching,” he said. “As long as the team is vibrant and alive, the coach can stay. When it dies on the vine and there is negativism, the handwriting is on the wall. Our church is still alive and vibrant.”