The Rev. Leon C. Moore Jr. is on a fact-finding mission.
While eager to work with other churches and organizations to help the needy, the new pastor at St. James C.M.E. Church in Columbus is looking for some areas where he and his congregants won't be duplicating services.
"If there is a day or a place where the hungry are not being fed, where people are not being cared for, we want to be there," Moore said, this week. "I want to find out what this church needs and what the community needs because we are here to help. We want to share the gospel but much more. This is a benevolent church but there is always more a church can be doing."
Moore, 45, comes to St. James from Carter Chapel C.M.E. Church in Lubbock, Texas. He was appointed to St. James July 19 and arrived three days later. A welcome reception for him will be tonight at 6 p.m. at the church.
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"The people have all been hospitable to me and my family," he said. Along with him in Columbus are his wife, Tiffany, and two of their four children. They are also raising a goddaughter.
Moore is the son of a pastor but as a young man he did not see himself in the ministry. Growing up in Detroit, Mich., he began to study engineering in college then dropped out and hung around the streets.
"Trouble was my middle name," he said.
Moore wasn't in a gang, but he was into mischief.
It wasn't long before he realized he wanted to do something constructive with his life.
Of his time on the street, he said that he had been saved but nobody had shown him how to live a saved life.
For that reason, he said, he is big on discipleship because people have to know what to do after they accept Christ.
He has a degree in business administration from Texas College and worked as a regional manager with Shell Oil before deciding to be a pastor. He is working on his master of divinity degree.
While in Lubbock, he taught second grade and also served as chaplain at Texas Tech University Medical Center.
"I usually got the call when someone had passed," Moore said of his work at the hospital. Extremely tough, he said, were times when the deceased was a family member of a child he taught.
While in Texas, he founded a non-profit organization, New Life Faith Ministries, that is committed to the well being of the elderly and children in oppressed areas. In Texas, it helped provide day care for children and adults.
Because of a lack of funds, he said, New Life is not very active at this time.
Something he hopes to carry over from his time in Texas is working as a high school referee. It is something, the former high school football and baseball player, has done for 17 years. It is kind of a ministry for him.
"I see it as an extension of the classroom on the field," he said. "It is a chance to educate young minds. Some of those young people have the wrong attitude and are disrespectful. Sometimes, they cuss. It is a chance to show them the right way to do things. You teach wherever you can teach."