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New Methodist pastor serves 2 churches in West Newton

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
The Rev. Alfred Kimmel is the new pastor for the United Methodist churches in West Newton and Herminie.

The new pastor of the West Newton United Methodist Church and the Herminie United Methodist said he heard a calling from God as a young man, but opted to go his own way, down a different career path.

“I believe the call has been there in my life. After about 20 years, I decided to listen to God,” said the Rev. Alfred H. Kimmel, who had been working in the food industry when he became a pastor 24 years ago.

Kimmel, 63, was appointed to the pastorate of the United Methodist churches in Herminie and West Newton on July 1, after serving as the pastor at Punxsutawney Crosstown Ministries United Methodist Church for the past nine years. Kimmel succeeds the Rev. Larry G. Dunn at the Herminie church and the Rev. D. Renee Mikell at the West Newton church.

Kimmel was one of about 50 ministers whom the bishop of the Western Pennsylvania Conference, in consultation with superintendents of the 10 districts of the conference, appointed to different Methodist churches in the 23-county conference. He said he had requested a transfer, believing it was a time for a change after almost a decade.

“You put your trust in them that they're doing God's wishes and it all works out right,” Kimmel said of the appointment process.

In his new position, Kimmel serves 270 members at the Herminie United Methodist Church and 223 at the West Newton United Methodist Church, according to the Western Pennsylvania Conference's 2013 annual report.

Sunday services at the two churches are scheduled so that the pastor can leave the West Newton church at the conclusion of the 9:30 a.m. service in West Newton, in time to reach the Herminie United Methodist Church by the beginning of the 11 a.m. service.

Being a pastor of two churches in small communities is not unusual for United Methodist ministers, said the Rev. Dawn L. Check, communications director for the United Methodist Church's Western Pennsylvania Conference.

“It's sometimes what the church can afford. It provides an opportunity for churches to live within their means,” Check said.

Kimmel, a native of eastern Armstrong County, said he had been working in the meat packing industry and the former Lucky Foodland supermarket in Greensburg prior to becoming a minister.

He answered that call from God and took steps to become a minister by finishing his degree at Indiana University of Pa. He attended seminary at Duke University in North Carolina and was pastor of a North Carolina church for four years before returning to Pennsylvania.

Kimmel said he and his wife, Barbara, have moved to West Newton.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jnapsha@tribweb.com or 724-836-5252.

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