New Pastor Jon Buxton has just been at Tunkhannock United Methodist Church since July 1, but feels he knows many in the congregation already, having previously served as the Wilkes-Barre District Superintendent of the Susquehanna Conference.
Pastor Buxton has also been on a Haiti Partnership mission trip and knows the Tunkhannock church’s strong commitment there.
In the ministry for 22 years, Buxton began serving the public even earlier.
Having been the son of a Methodist minister, Buxton said there was no singular place where he spent his growing up years, but graduated from high school in Valhalla, N.Y.
He had a sense of wanting to do something more, and was an exchange student in Argentina.
Buxton went on to Albright College to study social work, and had a range of jobs over a five-year period working with troubled youth, supervising a group home, and even spent some time in a psychiatric hospital setting doing social work.
“I have always wanted to serve the Lord in some way. But immediately after college I thought that it would be through social work,” he said.
But, for Buxton, it always seemed, that family tradition was calling him to the ministry all along.
“My father being a pastor was obviously a big influence and inspiration. Both of my grandfathers were also pastors. My mother was heavily involved in serving the lord. The ministry has deep roots in our family,” he said.
So, as he was exploring the possibility of going to graduate school in social work, the ministry kept calling him and he went to Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.
His first official capacity in the ministry was as an intern in Newark Valley, N.Y., and he has since worked in the old Wyoming Conference as a pastor in White Mills, Skinners Eddy, and Moscow, all in Pennsylvania.
Buxton said that it was the sense of community aspect of being a minister that he is most drawn toward.
He believes it brings a responsibility to the community at large, not just his church congregation.
He said he is adapting quickly to his new community, and in his first week on the job was immersed in Vacation Bible School.
Buxton said that kids are kids universally “but we as Christians need to learn to be kids ourselves looking at the world with the same sort of awe as Jesus did.”
He quoted from New Testament scripture, “Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom from heaven belongs to people like these.”
Buxton said that his years in the ministry have helped him come full circle on the challenges that churches are facing in the world.
“We need to be relevant to where people are and be adaptable to whatever setting we’re in,” Pastor Buxton said. While he noted he is comfortable in church tradition, “we have to be careful about being so tied with our traditions that we don’t miss opportunities to serve.”
Of his “new” community, Buxton said, “What I’ve known all along about Tunkhannock was that it is a beautiful town aesthetically. But what we’ve quickly come to find out is just how beautiful the people of the community are as well.”
Worship services during the summer are Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m., and he invites all who haven’t been to church recently to give it a try.
Pastor Buxton and his wife Barbara have three children, Leah, Josiah and Jesse.