‘Living a dream’: New UMC church launches in Cadiz

July 10, 2023
By Alan Wild
More than 50 people attended the launch of the United Methodist Church of Trigg County on Sunday, July 9 – and the Rev. Steven Neel, the pastor, couldn’t be more excited.  

“Just living a dream. That’s all I can say,” Neel, 59, a native of Trigg County who has been a United Methodist pastor for 36 years, said Monday.

“It was really good,” agreed the Rev. Dr. Kimberly Pope-Seiberling, the New Church Development director for the Kentucky Annual Conference. NCD is partnering with the Pennyrile District in the endeavor.

“The energy there was really high, and I think everyone there just had a really good time,” Pope-Seiberling added.

Neel preached his first sermon on “Living Stones,” and some of the people brought stones to set on the altar and will use them to make a piece of art. The sermon was based on 1 Peter, Chapter 2, which touched on the importance of Christ’s disciples serving as living stones.

In keeping with the theme of new birth, the opening hymn was “This Is a Day of New Beginnings” and the closing hymn was “My Hope is Built.”

The hymnals came from churches that had disaffiliated, and the cross and flame displayed in the window came from a church in the Northern Kentucky District that recently disaffiliated.

“They were so excited to have it. When I got to Cadiz on Saturday with the hymnals and the cross and flame, there were probably 10 people there waiting for me,” Pope-Seiberling said.

During the service, Neel helped describe the vision – setting the foundation, so to speak. While still a work in progress, the church definitely will have an outward focus in the community, he said. The church is renting space in a shopping area at  312 Main St., Suite 2C, in Cadiz.

Neel said that after only one Sunday, they’ve already outgrown their location and plan to expand into a larger area in the shopping center. They will keep the current worship spot for their children’s ministry. He is being assisted by a lay leadership team.

“People asked me, ‘Are you going to do this (church service) every week?’ They’re just excited to have that, because they didn’t have anywhere else to worship.”

Neel previously served at Cadiz UMC, but members voted to disaffiliate in June, leaving Trigg County with only Rockcastle, a very small rural United Methodist church, he said. He and his wife, Nancy, just bought a house in Murray, about a 45-minute drive away, and they will commute to Cadiz together. Nancy Neel works with special-needs children in the Trigg County school system.

Neel recalled that his late father, the Rev. George Neel, was pastor of the South Cadiz Circuit while the younger Neel was growing up, and he’s excited that some of the former members there will be coming to Cadiz to worship.

Pope-Seiberling and her husband, Eric Seiberling – who also attended Sunday’s launch –  said many people seemed to come by word of mouth and were really happy to be there. A lot of them are just dedicated to The United Methodist Church and feel like they’re doing something new and exciting, they said.

Most are longtime United Methodists and are eager to remain in the denomination. It is a high-functioning group, committed to the UMC “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors” message, Pope-Seiberling said.

“They want to be the ‘united’ in ‘United Methodist,’ “ she said.

This is the second new faith community to launch in the conference in recent months. Antioch United Methodist Church – worshiping in Erlanger, in the Northern Kentucky District – has been meeting since just before Easter and plans to charter Aug. 20. The Rev. Caleb Wheat, who previously served in Bowling Green, became pastor at Antioch on July 1

WHAT: United Methodist Church of Trigg County
WHERE: 312 Main St., Suite 2C
WHEN: Sunday services, 9 a.m. CDT; Bible study, Wednesdays at 6 p.m. CDT
CONTACT: The Rev. Steven Neel, sneel@kyumc.net; (270) 291-2228