Trey Skaggs knew he was going to be called into the ministry at a young age.
Skaggs, who took over as lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in Indianola this summer, said that he felt the calling as far back as high school, but God used a number of opportunities outside of the ministry to prepare him for the pulpit.
Skaggs’ undergraduate and graduate studies were more aligned with the education field, and after being hired as a graduate assistant at the University of Southern Mississippi, he eventually worked his way up to being named the assistant dean of students.
“It was a great prerequisite before entering the ministry,” Skaggs told The E-T in his new office at FUMC last week.
Skaggs said not only was he able to work directly with college kids, mentoring and counseling many of them, he learned about things like leading people, human resources and fundraising, all of which he said are areas that can translate to church leadership.
“I give thanks to God for having that great time at the university,” Skaggs said. “In some way, which is beyond my understanding, this was God’s way of equipping me and preparing me for what was next.”
Skaggs’ wife Heather was also a rising star in higher education.
A Mississippi State graduate, she had risen to become the director of public relations for residence life at USM and later became the director of public relations for the College of Business at Mississippi State.
After having their oldest son, Jones (8), Skaggs said the birth of their daughter, Anna Joy (5) gave them pause, and though the position at Mississippi State was a dream job, Heather’s heart was at home with the kids.
About 15 months ago, the Skaggs family welcomed an adopted son, Will (5), from China.
Adoption had been a calling for Heather since childhood, and it became a reality for the family while they were serving at First United Methodist Church in Columbus, a place where Heather also served as head of the children’s ministry.
They were paired with Will, who was an orphan and had not been nurtured as a child, which had led to some delays.
Skaggs said Will could not walk when the family first adopted him.
“He’s gained 15 pounds and 8 inches,” Skaggs said. “He couldn’t walk when we got him. Now he runs around like a normal kid.”
Skaggs said that the experience has been wonderful, but it has also been challenging.
“It’s been a constant reminder to me of Christ’s love for us in the midst of our own brokenness,” Skaggs said. “As a pastor, I can’t state how big of an impact it has had on my ministry and as a teacher. It teaches me to recognize my own vulnerability before the Lord and my own need before the Lord and that I’m to love in the same manner that Christ loved me.”
In the past month, Skaggs said a door has been opened at FUMC that will allow Heather to once again serve in the children’s ministry.
After spending five weeks in Indianola, Skaggs said he and his family have never felt more welcome.
“I had always heard there was an air of hospitality in the Delta, unlike anywhere you’ve ever seen,” Skaggs said. “We’ve been here five weeks, and I’ve never felt as welcome and loved and valued…It’s just a welcoming place. There are some fine people in Indianola, and I hope to meet every one of them.”