During the week Leslie Jackson tracks inventory for a shirt company in Overland Park.
Sunday is another story. Then, she’s the Rev. Leslie Jackson and her primary concern is inventory of souls at Iola Trinity United Methodist Church, 228 S. Kentucky, and the Methodist church in Colony. It’s a task that’s new to Jackson in some ways, but not all together.
She was appointed to lead the Iola and Colony churches effective July 1. For the past year she has filled in now and again for the Rev. Donna Voteau in her hometown of Louisburg. The Rev. Voteau also served as her mentor while she completed candidacy requirements for a ministerial license through the Methodist system.
“I’ve always been a believer,” Jackson said Sunday afternoon in the Trinity sanctuary. “I grew up in a small church in Parsons.”
It wasn’t until she was in her mid-30s that Jackson decided that she needed to be more than just a Sunday-go-to-meeting Christian.
“I felt questioned about where the Lord wanted me to go,” she said.
The answer led to the pulpit.
Her first sermon was on Mother’s Day 2010. That was followed by occasional time filling in as a lay minister while she worked through candidacy requirements.
Her Sunday regimen now is to be in Colony for 9:30 a.m. services and at Trinity-Iola at 11 a.m.
SUNDAY SHE used a metaphor of sewing seeds to relate to how people are led to salvation. She noted how it’s difficult to plant in hard or rocky soil, but an easier chore in good soil, which absorbs seeds and nutrients and produces hearty plants, just as does a close relationship with God.
Metaphors are big in the ministry, Jackson allowed, to convey biblical messages.
Even though she has a full-time day job, Jackson is acutely aware of the demands of having two congregations depend on her to have meaningful messages each Sunday morning and to be the shepherd of the flock.
She has found herself awakening in the middle of the night with thoughts about what she wants to say during upcoming sermons.
“I get up and write down” what has come to mind, she said.
Trinity Methodist’s congregation is an older crowd. Sunday pews held 35. Her first Sunday in Iola, on Fourth of July weekend, 24 attended.
“We’re looking to draw younger people,” Jackson said, with first phase of the effort being to find Sunday school teachers. The church has Sunday school now for adults.
“A problem of Sunday school is the word itself, ‘school,’” Jackson observed, which portends structure and may be daunting for some young people already in school.
“What we need to do is make it clear that Sunday school is about being open with each, loving each other,” Jackson said. “It’s about sharing,” and having a good time while learning what the Bible has to say.
Jackson and her husband, Brian, have two daughters, Alexis, 17, and Glynnis, 15.
TRINITY UNITED Methodist Church’s cornerstone was laid Oct. 19, 1904 at the corner of Broadway and Kentucky streets, with first service in February 1905.
According to a 1935 Register story, to commemorate the church’s 30th anniversary, it was decided in 1902 a second Methodist Episcopal was needed in east Iola to deal with increasing population prompted by the gas boom and the smelters they fueled, most of which were situated along what is now U.S. 54.
The first pastor of Trinity United Methodist was the Rev. Angus Maclean, appointed in March 1903. Services were held in the upper story of a building known as Fulton’s Hall, Madison and Kentucky streets.
By May 1904, a building committee had been formed, which accepted plans and specifications for a new church. Less than a year later the church was finished and services were being held there.