LINCOLNTON, N.C. (AP) — When interim pastor Rev. Veronica Cannon isn't preaching from the pulpit on Sundays at First Presbyterian Church in Lincolnton, she may have her nose in a book, be strapped to her roller skates or hiking the side of a mountain.
On her bucket list of daredevil activities, she noted during a sit-down interview at her new church office, is skydiving.
She said she wouldn't mind jumping out of an airplane this spring with her four children, ages 20 to 25.
From rappelling and camping to a number of other outdoor activities, Cannon isn't afraid to experience life.
"I will try almost anything at least once," she said boldly.
Since taking on the interim role. Cannon already has high hopes for First Presbyterian's 50- to 60-member congregation.
She envisions a church body that routinely engages with community members outside the facility's walls and follows in the footsteps of Jesus.
"Jesus didn't just sit," Cannon said. "He journeyed around and engaged in ministry. If you're going to continue a tradition, let that be the tradition."
There is no mistaking the urgency and passion in her voice when she reveals her church goals.
Overall, she wants First Presbyterian to "catch fire" for the Lord and His kingdom's work, specifically attracting parts of the population, ages 18 to 35, which she believes feel they often have no time or need for church.
Her solution to adding numbers to First Presbyterian and the Christian church as a whole? Finding out what people's needs are and meeting them.
She views church as a "filling station."
"Where people come in to get filled and then go out and serve," she said.
In order to discover others' most pressing needs, Cannon has an idea to take to the streets with a video camera, interviewing residents about how the church can best provide for them.
Oftentimes, people are fearful of opening up or trying new things, she said, but as a pastor, she feels called to break down others' walls and find common ground.
Ordained just three years ago, the Charlotte resident has only served in interim positions throughout the region, carrying out the role at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Gastonia prior to coming to Lincolnton. Before that, she pastored worship facilities in Monroe and Davidson, she said.
After family friend Rev. Brenda Tapia spurred Cannon to "quit running" and finally pursue the call on her life she first felt 23 years ago, she enrolled in part-time schooling at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte.
"She (Tapia) said, 'No more excuses,'" Cannon said.
The local seminary is designed for individuals interested in pursuing the ministry as a second career.
Before enrolling, Cannon sat down with her husband Jerry, a 21-year veteran of the ministry — and pastor of C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte — to discuss the changes that would come about with two pastors running one household.
Often called "the clergy couple," the pair knew Cannon was fit for the task, even if others still criticize them for worshipping separately on Sundays.
"We still support each other," she said.
When time allows, the couple attends various functions at one another's churches.
Although she knew, deep down, that God desired for her to enter the ministry, she had small children at the time, and didn't see moving far away for seminary as an option for their family.
Instead, she opted to wait and focus her time on being a mom.
Nearly a decade later, Cannon's call returned — and stronger.
Not only did she feel it itself, what Presbyterians call the "inner call," but others also readily identified it.
As the so-called "outer call" became evident, with friends and family frequently telling her they could see the spirit inside her, Cannon knew the waiting period was over; she had to obey.
The challenges of the job can be emotionally demanding, she said, particularly when comforting those who have lost loved ones. But to her, such tragedy always has a blessing in disguise.
"Death is both death and life," Cannon said. "There's a peace that comes with someone passing over (into death). It's not the end."
While previous guidelines with the Presbyterian denomination prevented interim pastors from becoming permanent pastors of the churches they served, the rule has since changed, Cannon said.
She noted how honored she would be to receive an installation invitation with First Presbyterian, whose congregation has had an interim pastor for at least the last two years.
"I would love to have a church home," she said, "but I'll do interim until the Lord finds a permanent home for me."
Cannon's overall desire for the church body to secure a pastor, regardless of who it is, proves greater than her longing to be head of her own church.
"I'm hoping I'll be the last interim (at Presbyterian)," she said.
Information from: Lincoln Times-News, http://www.lincolntimesnews.com/