As the one of the oldest churches in Alamance County, Historic Providence Christian Church in Graham has seen a long line of pastors since its start in 1763, a fact that the newest pastor, Burlington resident Steve Janicello, considers deeply humbling.
During an interview with The Alamance News this week, Janicello, initiated into the church as senior pastor in December, marveled at the many photos — and some drawings — of his predecessors on the wall of the church’s conference room. Noting the long-standing leadership and the over 250 years of ministry, the pastor says that both act as a testament to God’s faithfulness.
Once the owner of Custom Sofa in Burlington, Janicello, 56, said that while his business was satisfying and fulfilled his needs for creative expression and entrepreneurship, his true passion was found in ministering to children and youth.
“I never wanted to [go into ministry],” he remembers, explaining that while he had grown up in the church, he wasn’t saved until well into adulthood.
It wasn’t until the then-30-year-old was invited to attend an evangelism class at Trinity Worship Center by Roger Barefoot that he changed course.
“When I took that class, the light came on,” he told the newspaper. “It changed my priorities when I asked Jesus to save me. It changed my life. It set me on the trajectory to here.”
After being saved, he began volunteering at Trinity Worship Center, later becoming interim youth pastor, a position that he says felt “intuitive.” At 40, Janicello sold his furniture business and attended seminary while serving as the center’s full-time youth and young adult minister, a position he held for 10 years. In 2010, he went to Westside Fellowship and served another decade as the church’s worship leader and youth and children’s minister.
When he spotted a job posting for Historic Providence Christian Church’s senior pastor — the position was previously held by now-retired, 41-year veteran Darryl Peebles — he saw it as another opportunity to grow.
“God opened up a door to me,” he says.
Janicello’s goals for his new church include nurturing and growing the congregation, with a special focus on its youth and children’s ministry. With time, he hopes, those with deep, generational ties to the church, as well as new families, will be drawn in.
“We would just love for everyone to come back home,” he says.
The new pastor says that he and wife Christie — the couple have two children, Zeke, 25, and Sarah, 23 — already consider themselves at home in the church.
“They’re just the most wonderful people,” he says of the congregation, which he describes as welcoming, loving, and accepting.
“I feel like my whole life has been leading up to this.”
See earlier related stories:
Pastor of county’s oldest church retiring after 41 years (August 20, 2020): https://alamancenews.com/pastor-of-countys-oldest-church-retiring-after-41-years/
Stay close while apart; the misnomer of “social distancing” Guest column by Rev. Darryl Peebles (April 16, 2020) https://alamancenews.com/stay-close-while-apart/