A pastor for two churches in McDowell County has published a new book that helps explain about what it means to be “Living on Grace Street.” And all the money made from the sale of this work goes to help those who are in need.
“Every book that somebody buys, it means there will be more money going to those who need it,” said the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Humphreys.
Humphreys is the pastor for both Siloam Presbyterian Church near Old Fort and Conley Memorial Presbyterian Church near Marion. In his new book “Mountain Ministry: Living on Grace Street,” Humphreys takes his readers on a spiritual journey and reminds them that we have a home on “Grace Street” no matter where we go. The 181-page work is a compilation of his sermons that he has delivered for both of his congregations in McDowell as well as other churches.
Humphreys, who will turn 79 in mid-January, pursued a long career in engineering in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Morgantown, W.Va. where he was a professor at West Virginia University. He later was executive director of his professional society, the American Association of Cost Engineers. After he took an early retirement in 1993, Humphreys and his wife Betsy moved to Granite Falls where he became a very active member of the Waldensian Presbyterian Church in Valdese and later the Fairview Presbyterian Church in Lenoir. Ken and Betsy Humphreys have four children and five grandchildren.
During that time of his life, he enrolled in a program to help lay people become better servants of Christ. “At that point, I had no intention of becoming a pastor, but I could feel God’s call and I resisted it,” he wrote.
Before long, Humphreys could no longer deny God’s call. He exceeded the requirements of the laity program and began studying to become a Presbyterian minister. Around the beginning of 2010, Humphreys began serving as an interim pastor at Fairview Presbyterian and was a supply pastor at a number of churches in western North Carolina. One of those was Conley Memorial near Marion and in early 2012 he was called to be that church’s regular pastor.
In 2015, he became the pastor for Siloam, which is a small seasonal church near Old Fort that holds services from Easter through October. This church was founded in 1778 during the time of the American Revolution and is one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in western North Carolina.
Conley Memorial is a little more recent having been founded in 1886.
Both of these churches are in the mountains, which provided the title for his new book.
In addition, Humphreys is the chaplain at Boy Scout Camp Bud Schiele near Rutherfordton during the summers. He is also an active member of the Piedmont & Western Model Railroad Club and Old Rock School Railway Museum in Valdese.
In his engineering career, Humphreys has written many works. “I’ve written a great many books,” he said. “They have been engineering books, technical books and computer books.” He produced around 20 books and had no plans to write another one.
But not too long ago, he heard from a retired pastor in east Tennessee who started a publishing company which also seeks to help the poor and disadvantaged.
Founded by David Russell Tullock in 2008, Parson’s Porch & Book Publishing is a company with two purposes. “We focus on the needs of creative writers who need a professional publisher to get their work to market, & we also focus on the needs of others by sharing our profits with those who struggle to meet their basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and safety,” reads the company’s Website.
The firm publishes all kinds of works and has more than 250 books on the market.
Tullock asked Humphreys to publish a work that would inspire others and also raise money for poor and hungry. Even though he didn’t want to write another book, Humphreys knew he could not deny Tullock’s request.
“As a pastor, how could I refuse that?” he said to The McDowell News. “Once I found out the proceeds go to help the needy, I agreed to do it.”
Humphreys has kept every sermon he has delivered from the pulpit. He looked through his many sermons, updated some of them and compiled them into a new collection called “Mountain Ministry: Living on Grace Street.” His congregations at Conley Memorial and Siloam have heard these sermons before but this is the first time they have been put together in a single volume.
The foreword for “Mountain Ministry” was written by the Rev. Edyth Potter Pruitt, pastor of Fairview Presbyterian in Lenoir. “In its pages, you will find whispers of hope which inspires the church to seek new vistas, reminders of love in action which calls us to participation in God’s grand plan for our world, and the timeless truth of God’s presence with us in our own communities challenging us to live vibrant lives of faith for our time,” reads the last sentence of her foreword.
The book has sermons for the major days and seasons of the Christian calendar such as Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, the Transfiguration, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. There are also sermons appropriate for the other Sundays in the year. “Mountain Ministry” could be used as a devotional or part of a group Bible study.
A major theme in this book is the concept of “Living on Grace Street.” In the sermon that has this title, Humphreys talks about how Christians are justified by the grace of God. We cannot earn or deserve God’s grace but we can receive it through His love. This sermon was delivered at Conley Memorial and at a church in Arizona.
For Humphreys, helping those who are in need was the total motivation to writing this work. When asked about what inspired him, he said, “The two great commandments of Christ. The first one is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. That second one was my motivation. If you read any of these sermons, you will see the thread running through it.”
Parson’s Porch uses the money it receives from the sale of the book to help the poor and hungry in east Tennessee. All the money that Humphreys receives goes to the Pay it Forward Food Bank in Caldwell County, where he lives.
Since the book’s release, Humphreys has sold out all of his copies. He would like to hold a book-signing but does not have any more left.
“I totally sold out of my supply within two weeks after receiving three cases of the book so I don't have copies to take to a signing,” he said to The McDowell News. “I am amazed at its success. Quite a few of the books I had were purchased by folks in Marion, at my two churches, but more significantly at First Presbyterian in Marion.”
If he can get more copies, then Humphreys will likely hold a book-signing event. The paperback book sells for $19.95 and it can be purchased through Amazon by going to https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Ministry-Living-Grace-Street/dp/1539695204/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477339206&sr=1-1&keywords=Parsons+Porch+Books.
To learn more about Parson’s Porch Books, visit www.parsonsporch.com.