Faith Matters: Pastor Retires to Focus on Family and Other Ministries | Faith
Ministry has been in Darlene Moore’s heart since she was a child.
It was the loss of her child that led Moore to step down from full-time church ministry this year, including 30 years as a pastor, to take on “grandson ministry.”
Moore’s son, Joshua James II, died suddenly aged 28 on August 19, 2018, leaving behind two young sons and a wife.
Moore, the former pastor of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge from 2002 to 2011, retired to have more time to visit and impact his grandsons, ages 7 and 8. In December, Moore returned to Baton Rouge, where she had maintained a home, after 10 years in the Lake Charles-Acadiana district of The United Methodist Church.
“I have the opportunity to really understand what a grandparent is, and we play an important role and always have,” Moore said. “We can love the children and send them home or take them when needed and help add a necessary and essential foundation, which the world cannot teach them. …I am still in ministry but just under a new day.”
Moore, 57, said she wanted to provide the kind of foundation she had growing up in Mandeville.
“(My grandparents) taught me invaluable lessons with my parents. They were my mentors. They taught the value of caring, the value of community, the value of church, and the value of compassion,” she said. “My parents modeled for me the strength of the family.”
Moore wants to be an integral part of sharing those values with his grandsons Joshua III and Jeremiah.
“As a grandmother, I have a role and a responsibility to speak with them, but also to be present and to encourage them,” she said. “I check homework and encourage them to learn their prayers, know their prayers, know who God is, who Jesus is, limit their time on those vices, phones, tablets, etc. And then I try to encourage my daughters-in-law because she is a young mother that I hope for and I pray that God will help her find love again. She is doing an incredible job.”
It was the lives his son touched that brought comfort to Moore. This was evident in the testimony of a young mother who was presented with a Bible by her son just before his death.
“When she told me he gave her the Bible and told her ‘don’t take it but take it and read it and instill that in his children’, that gave me peace. was such a divine thing,” Moore said.
Moore had walked a similar path before. She was a freshman at Dillard University in New Orleans when her 25-year-old sister, Charlene, died in a car accident on March 1, 1983, leaving behind a young son whom Moore helped raise.
His sister had visited Moore in Dillard less than an hour earlier, confirming Moore’s call to ministry, a passion of Moore since he was 9 years old.
“(Charlene) said to me, ‘The Lord will continue to use you in great ways if you let Him,'” Moore said.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and public policy from Dillard in 1986, Moore went on to earn a master’s degree in divinity from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta in 1990.
She has led several churches in 30 years, including as Camphor’s first female pastor. Moore recently pastored three churches in Jeanerette, Baldwin and Franklin. She officially retired on January 1.
Along with being available for her grandsons, Moore plans to keep busy traveling, enjoying area parks and getting active in organizations.
Moore will also maintain her writing and art interests. She has written two books and presented two works of art to the Conseil des arts du Grand Bâton Rouge.
“I also consider this (writing, art) ministry,” Moore said.