New pastor takes over at Church of the Nazarene

Renovations coincide with pastor's installment

By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Last Thursday afternoon, Rev. Nate Patnode of the Church of the Nazarene in Williston walked through his new parish, surveying the renovations that are being completed to coincide with his arrival.

"Everything's new around here," said Patnode, 31. "New paint job, new windows, soon to be new carpet."

But the biggest change for the church, located right off Route 2A, is the pastor. On Sunday, Feb. 3, Patnode was officially installed as the church's head pastor. About 100 people from Williston and other Nazarene church communities turned up for the occasion.

Young and enthusiastic, Patnode looks forward to his time in Vermont.

"It's a beautiful area. You've got the lakes and the mountains," he said with a big smile. "I'm just happy to be here."


Formed around the turn of the 20th century, the Church of the Nazarene grew out of British evangelist John Wesley's holiness movement. The denomination emphasizes that individuals need the Holy Spirit to embody them with its power in order to live a Christian life.

The Church of the Nazarene has been located in Williston for more than 30 years, but was officially organized in Burlington in 1928. The church had not been renovated since it was built in the 1960s, according to church member Wendy Elmer. With décor reminiscent of 40 years ago, church members knew it was time for an update. Wood paneling was removed behind the stage in favor of a new paint job. The worn carpets have been replaced as well.

Elmer said sermons now would be aided by the use of computers.

"We've installed new speakers, new amplifiers and a new computer," she said. "There was a trench dug in the floor so we could put in new wiring."

Elmer also said a new projector has been installed to give more opportunities to incorporate multimedia into sermons. Total costs of the renovation were estimated at $25,000, she said.

Renovations were completed Saturday night before Sunday's special event. All except the carpets, which would not get installed until Tuesday.

The new pastor

The Burlington-Williston Church of the Nazarene has been without a pastor for more than two years, during which time a pastor split time between Williston and Concord, N.H. Before that, the church only had a part-time pastor, according to Elmer.

"He'll bring more stability," Elmer said of Padnode. "Having someone full time makes it easier to get things done rather than having someone part-time."

Pearl Wells, the church board's secretary, said the board reviewed many resumes before deciding on Patnode's.

"He seemed to be right on track with what the church believed," Wells said. "He's enthusiastic and ready to go forward."

Patnode came to Vermont from a Nazarene church in Malden, Mass. He was the associate pastor there and jumped at the chance to become a head pastor. A native of Plattsburgh, N.Y., Patnode also liked the fact that he was moving home, so to speak, to the Champlain Valley.

Patnode grew up as a member of the Church of the Nazarene but wasn't sure he wanted to be a pastor until later in his teen years.

"I think I heard the call around the time I was 18, but I kept thinking it wasn't for me," he said. "I kept saying, 'I can't get up in front of people and speak.' But friends and family kept confirming that I should do this."

Patnode attended Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass. where he earned his degree. Around that time, he also became a youth minister and did several missionary trips to Brazil and Belize. He then moved on to the Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., where he earned his masters degree in divinity.

He started the job three weeks ago, just after moving from Massachusetts with his wife, Miranda, and newborn daughter, Olivia. Patnode knows that the new job will be a lot of work and be a huge change for his family, but he's excited. He's looking to improve the Williston church and bring more community members in.

"(Change) doesn't happen overnight," he said. "It takes a long period of time. Nothing will grow if you just sit there."

Patnode talked about how he wants to bring more awareness to the church through community activities. Once the weather gets warmer, he wants to throw a big block party. Through more activities, such as a basketball night at the church's gym, he hopes to expand the Williston congregation's numbers, which currently are around 40 to 45 members, he said.

"We've been focusing on the younger generations and how to reach them," Wells said. "I think we got a nice young couple to help do that."