Go West, from young man to senior pastor
Editor’s note: This is one of an occasional series of articles about ordinary Cherokee County residents and their extraordinary lives.
Murphy – The voices at Shepherd of the Mountains church rang high and with enthusiasm during communion, which is just the way pastor Chris West wants it.
West, who was born and grew up in Andrews, does full time what many people fear even part time – public speaking. After serving for a year as youth pastor under his mentor, retired pastor Al Beck, last month West was named senior pastor, speaking the word of God at the nondenominational church on the hill one level up from Eller & Owens Furniture off U.S. 64 West.
“I love drawing people to Jesus,” West said. “I want to see the church grow and see what God is doing. I’m honored to be in this position. I love what I do.”
The church underwent renovations less than 18 months ago, expanding the north front of the building to encompass a choir room, nursery and other classrooms for Sunday school use.
Shepherd of the Mountains supports older students by having them recite Scriptures to earn a $200 scholarship every year
they renew their college classes. Behind the church campus are trailers that hold kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms for the private school Shepherd’s Academy, which still has space for more children to sign up.
West was called by God into His work in 2003. Music and youth ministries have been a big part of his career, as he served with a few
congregations before settling in at MountainView Church in Peachtree for
several years prior to his calling at Shepherd of the Mountains. In 2013, West and the contemporary Christian worship band
Effigy released the CD Whisper to a Shout, which included five of his original songs. Prior to Effigy, he sang and played bass guitar with the popular local group Abishai.
In 2001, West, who also worked as an Andrews police officer, was invited to go to church by his 3-year-old son on Mother’s Day.
“I wasn’t raised in church,” he said, “so I just went to please everybody. But I remember the pastor that day had a powerful speech. By the end of it, I surrendered my heart to Jesus.”
West’s mother, Diane West, an associate with the Andrews Journal, said he has been a big blessing to their family. West has been married to Chasidy since 1995. He has three sons – Tanner, Jake and Cole.
While West has been on many mission trips across the United States, he has not been called by God to travel outside of the country – at least not yet.
“I would like to see what the Lord is doing in Africa,” he said. “I’ve heard many great things happening there from my missionary friends.”
Until then, West wants everyone to remember, “You are always invited (to Shepherd of the Mountains). This church is a hospital for the broken. Come as you are, it’s a judgment-free zone.”
Though West has not been senior pastor for long, it was obvious from the many smiling faces and number of hugs he received after a recent service that members have received him graciously after Beck’s retirement.
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