By Ansley Brackin
When Will and Blair Zant first started talking about building a life together, they discussed how they would handle being sent by The Conference. Could they manage being sent cities apart, in the same community, or even in the same church? After both preaching in Sandy Springs, the two were given an even closer opportunity to work together: to co-pastor at Cannon UMC in Snellville.
The Conference approached the couple with eagerness, feeling that having a married couple share the Senior Pastor role would fit the church’s mission statement: “To bring about life change in children, youth, and families through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” The young family, with a one-year-old girl, prayed about their decision, but ultimately accepted their duty to go where they are sent.
“The places we left, we loved,” says Will Zant. There was a slight struggle in reaching out to the same community from two separate churches, 5 miles apart, but the two enjoyed bringing their churches together. Services were combined for special occasions and the youth groups that the couple brought together have remained together even after their leave in July. “Churches shouldn’t be competition for each other, but should be competing with what else is out there,” says Blair. Periodically, the Zants preached together in Sandy Springs, serving as some preparation for their next journey.
Though it is still a new experience for them, the two have developed a “two week rhythm” in preaching. The couple works together to develop a series of sermons to alternately preach on Sundays. Will ran a creative path in their current series, including multiple outlets of creative expression, like painting, dancing and singing. Soon the couple will reveal a large “paint-by-number” that was painted by the congregation throughout the series.
With two creative minds, Will and Blair have enjoyed creating sermon series together. A favorite of theirs was “Bible Busters”. The series mimicked the “Myth Busters” TV show to expose common misconceptions from the Bible. Other church attendees even assisted in the making of videos to go along with the sermons, one of which involved “blowing up” Will’s car.
The Zants are extremely thankful that Bishop Michael Watson and the cabinet saw them as candidates for this new experiment; an opportunity that other couples have been eager to try. Both Will and Blair find it to be a worth-while experience for couples but feel that it may not be for everyone. “We have learned to play on each other’s strengths. You have to stop comparing, and instead work to complement each other,” explains Blair.
One of their favorite parts about co-pastoring is getting to attend church together, something that many clergy couples are unable to do. “We get to be in ministry together like other non-clergy families do,” says Will. This allows their baby girl to have one home church.
Cannon has proved to be a great host for the change. The couple sees the congregation as one that enjoys trying new things, and they have welcomed both of them without judgment or negativity. The Zants look forward to continuing their joint-preaching with Cannon UMC and hope to see other clergy couple co-pastoring in the future.
Do you know an amazing clergy couple, or a clergy member with an interesting talent, hobby, or story? We would like to share them with The Conference for Clergy Appreciation Month. Send all suggestions to Ansley Brackin or Sybil Davidson.