August 30th, 2010

Ten years ago, Corinth hired Paul Cummings as our Youth Minister.  The decade since has been full of surprises!  

I remember the early days when I never really knew what would come out of Paul’s mouth – in private or public.  Back in the days when Paul was helping to lead in “traditional” service, he once was giving the welcome and said, ““If you’re here for the first time and did not receive our welcome booklet, please raise your hand.  Unless, of course, you’re embarrassed to raise your hand because of the warts.”

Along the way, I was also surprised that the mentoring was two-way.  Paul is a good bit younger than I am, but I have learned as much from him as he has learned from me.  He has an incredible instinct for ministry – the people side of ministry, the administration, the balance, and especially leading worship.

I was actually surprised when Paul began leading contemporary worship separate from traditional how effective a preacher Paul is.  It’s one thing to preach a good sermon here and there; it’s another to do it week after week, year after year.  When Paul and I meet weekly to talk about upcoming sermons, I’ve stopped being surprised at his insights and humility.

Paul surprised me once when he told me in some depth about his painful previous experiences with church staffs.  It took him a while to trust me as a senior pastor who really cared for him and treated him like a respected colleague.

The toughest part of our relationship was probably when we disagreed publicly and privately about Corinth’s relationship to the UCC.  But the pleasant surprise was that we were able to model before the congregation that disagreement doesn’t have to lead to disrespect or separation or even distance.

Let me tell you what doesn’t surprise me.  When we got the word out that we were honoring Paul for his ten years of ministry at Corinth, I got a flood of responses!  You can read them below.  Notice how many people not only consider him a friend – but their best friend.  Read about how it’s not just his public ministry but his life that pushes people upward and inward and outward.  Read their comments for yourself.

Paul and Danielle, you and your daughters are an incredible joy to Linda and me, to our children, and to this church family and community.  Thank you for ten incredible years.

Bob Thompson, Pastor


Adam Laughter:  Even though I have not been at Corinth for ten years I came to youth in the seventh grade.  I can honestly say he has changed my worship and prayer habits.  I was content with just standing and singing the words and essential “going through the motions.”  After a few years in youth with him the words became real and meaningful.  I also only viewed prayer as something I had to do but he was important in igniting a fire within me to study and pray about everything.  I love his unique outlooks on life and just the way his life is lived in generally.  His energy and passion is consuming and inspiring  He makes his mark on so many people throughout our community. I cannot count how many times I when I am asked about what church I attend the person immediately identifies Paul as the youth pastor and how great he is.  God has certainly placed him in my life to challenge me to not be content with just carrying the title of a Christian. I have thought for the past 20 minutes on a great word or statement to describe Paul.  I considered all his talents and all I’m left with is pure amazement.  He can do it all and he has done so much for me.


Amy Stickler:  Paul loves passionately and deeply: his family, his friends, his church, and his God. This motivates him to pour himself fully into his ministries, where he models for the rest of us how to worship, how to serve, and how to love God and love people. Paul’s ministry means that things may be improvised, will likely get messy, and will certainly be outside the box. But most importantly, I have learned from having Paul in my life that ministry often means spreading the unfathomably deep and rich love of God in our church and community in ways that many of us would never imagine!


Angela Mirovsky: “Paul Comments” now that could take a while.  Where does one begin? He is genuine and real!!  The big smile, the warm welcoming hugs and a kind sincere word…He emulates the love of the Lord.


Annie Burnham: How do you even begin to describe the impact that one of the most important people in your life has had? It’s hard to tell in words the way a man can show you who Jesus is and make you feel special, loved and teach you how to be a truly devoted Disciple of Christ.

                I first met Paul when he mistook me for Emma’s mom dropping her off at youth. I was 14 at the time. I started coming to Corinth shortly after that. One of the first memories I have of Paul is when he came to eat lunch with me at Hickory High. It seems like such a simple thing but I didn’t have many friends and to have someone come to eat with me and want to get to know me was a big deal. Having someone sit with me at lunch that no one knew made me feel special.

                Another memory I have is when we went to the Bahamas in 2005. It was a life changing experience and Paul’s leadership and love were a big part of my experience. He has taken us to Student Life Camp countless times and each experience deepens my walk with Christ and inspires me to be a better woman of God.

                I could go on for pages and pages to tell the times when Paul was a friend, a big brother, a father, and one of the people I care about most in life. If I hadn’t met him, I’m not sure where my faith would be or if I would have become the woman that I am. His passion for Jesus and his love for people have inspired me to want to serve in places I would never have noticed. I love Paul as if he were one of my own family. Because of his ministry, people have come to know the Lord in ways he will never know on this earth.

                Paul, when you read this, I hope you are encouraged. Even though I’m far away in Kentucky, you are always still in my heart and prayers. You made such a huge difference in my life. Your advice and support through my struggles I’ve had with self-image, friends, relationships, and other faith related things has meant the world to me. One word of encouragement I have is to always keep trusting in God that you are making a difference and know that no matter how hard or impossible the situations is, there is always hope. He can redeem anything and anyone and I know sometimes it’s hard to remember that when people keep doing the same stupid stuff and it seems that no one is listening to you. You are an amazing man of God and I am so blessed to know you.


Athos Rostan:  In the last 10 years, Paul Cummings has made a difference!  He has touched the lives of many men, women, children and youth in our Church, our community, and even remote parts of the world including Moldova and Guatemala.  Just go to Facebook, and you can see that Paul is a loyal friend to hundreds of people who look to him for counsel, guidance, support and encouragement.   His leadership, influence and outreach in our communities have all been a huge blessing to our Church, and to so many people beyond our Church walls. 

Paul and I joined the Church just about the same time, and he approached me about playing drums in a new Contemporary service.  I remember telling him I was not interested—that was a part of my past, and I was happy with it staying that way.  Ten years later, I am pleased to say that his tenacity in pursuing me, and his encouragement of me over the years has made me a part of something much more significant than simply beating on a set of drums—Sunday morning worship, CDs and iTunes, fellowship with many people I might not have met or grown close to otherwise, and my own personal pursuit for the heart of the Lord. 

Paul shines such a heart.  He is quick to listen and slow to speak, taking in everything very carefully and always interested in whoever he is speaking with, whether he knows them or not.  He is humble but confident, and I truly admire his ability to rise to a challenge and find ways to communicate on multiple levels and in meaningful ways to his constantly changing audience.  One moment, you can find him in a high level Board meeting discussing strategies, budgets and other professional matters.  Minutes later, you will find him counseling a troubled youth, and right after that, he’s working with a community outreach program, and then off to practice music with the praise team… all the while, encouraging and supporting numerous people along the way via text messaging, e-mails, phone calls and personal appearances.  It’s just who he is and who many of us strive to be but fall short.  Paul’s attitude and approach to everyday life is something I esteem and aspire to emulate. 

I doubt that he is aware of how many souls he touches on a daily basis—sure, he knows his plate is full and he gets his tasks done.  But, he does it all with a loving heart for God and his brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Barbara Roithner:  What can one say about Paul, he loves people and it shows!  He has such a passion in all that he does not just with the youth, but children, kids in college, worship, etc.  If I had to pick one thing to say about Paul it would be he reflects the love of Jesus in all that he does! 


Benjamin Lowry:  Paul has been a great role model and I really look up to him. He is always an encourager in every circumstance. Before coming to Corinth and meeting Paul I was a Christian but was not growing, but ever since being around Paul I have become excited about being a Christian and Paul’s teaching has made me excited about learning from the Bible and living out my faith.


Betty McGee:  What is there left to say about this wonderful servant of God, Paul?  Without Paul, life would lack sharpness and shape!   Paul keeps us all in suspense, of anticipation of what is next!   His is so creative and talented.  We are truly blessed to have him on the team.


Bill Howell: Paul is one of if not the best youth minister/praise team leader I have ever had opportunity to see in action. His ability to capture the attention of young and old alike and motivate them in worship is truly a gift given “of God.” Paul’s character is that of a man who not only “talks the talk, but walks the walk” as well. Paul, Danielle, Molly and Hannah have brought joy to Corinth and my family personally in too many ways to count over the last ten years of being in partnership with them. Their ministry together has been transformative. God’s continued blessings on you Paul as you and your family continue to serve God and praise the Name of Jesus! Love you Brother.


Cassie Mumford: Paul is the most amazing youth pastor ever! He has changed my life! He is the biggest role model in my life and the reason I am a Christian is BECAUSE OF HIM! I love his music, his love for Jesus and his passion for missions! He has introduced me to so many new things I can use to grow in my faith! I am sooooo thankful for him and never want him to leave! I am so honored to be growing up with him as my youth pastor! I LOVE YOU PAUL! Thank you so much!!! 🙂

Chris and Lynn Winkler: Paul is a true shepherd of Christ.  His passion for Corinth our family and each of us individually is unbelievable.  We feel truly blessed to have Paul lead us in our worship and a guide through our spiritual journey here on earth.  Thank You Paul


Chris O’Connor: Paul is the first person outside my family I would trust to be with or share their faith with outside my close family of four. He is someone God has favored to lead his children. I consider Paul as one of my only friends. He has helped to lead our kids to eternal life with God. Thank you Paul. as for myself I am proud to call you brother paul. I think of you daily.


Christy O’Connor: Quite simply…I LOVE PAUL CUMMINGS!!! He is fun! He is gentle! He emanates Christ’s love! When I look at our Pastor Paul, I think ” I want to be like him”! I have never met a person who is so mature in what matters yet is so FUN-LOVING. I have always pitied the people who are too serious, and I can guarantee you Paul Cummings does not suffer from that disease! He has a zest for life, his family, and his church! Love you bro…YOU ROCK!!!


Dan Koch:  Paul is an extraordinary person.  Musically gifted, and blessed with youthful energy and wit, he connects to our teens in ways that nobody else can. He understands who our youth are, what they face and what they think.  Paul has been instrumental in helping my kids keep their eyes on God during the turbulent teen years. Kelley and I thank God regularly for Paul.  He is a true friend.


Danielle Cummings:  10 years!!!  Can you believe it???  I know how much you love this church and being part of this incredibly supportive & encouraging staff and, of course, all of the people God has placed at Corinth, who have become our closest friends and truly our church “family”.  It has been such an amazing adventure for me to be by your side in life and in ministry.  Although I am with you everyday and feel like I know you better than anyone, you continue to surprise and inspire me each Sunday morning.  To sit at your feet and see how the Holy Spirit works through your messages and how the Spirit leads you in worship is almost surreal for me as your wife.  I am so fortunate to have a husband who loves the Lord with all of his being and whose passion for Him and for ministry is evident in all you do!  Thank you for being the Spiritual leader to our family, for challenging me in my daily walk,  for being faithful to your work in the church, and for being soooo wild & crazy…. I never know what part of my life might be shared on Sunday morning form the pulpit, but you help me see those moments of our lives through different lenses.  I love you more and more and feel so blessed that God led us to Corinth 10 years ago…. what an incredible place to serve.  Congratulations on a wonderful 10 years of ministry!


David and Dana Lowry: We are so thankful to the Lord for the blessing Paul has been in the lives of our children!


David Hammer: Paul Cummings has been a huge blessing in my life. In one sentence Paul is a great model of a humble servant of Jesus Christ. Paul has great enthusiasm to do the Lords work both with adults and kids alike. He spends many hours a week away from his family serving the Lord. However Paul finds time to spend with “his girls” and he would beat the tar out of anyone who messed with them. For me the best thing about Paul is he’s a model of Jesus, a wakeskated buddy, a partner in servanthood, a best friend, and my pastor all rolled in one. So Paul if you move I’m gonna stalk you forever.


Dylan Burel: paul has made i bigger difference in the lives of people at corinth than many think. i can say from personal experience, that paul helps people through their struggles, in life. my parents recently seperated and are amid divorce, and paul has really helped me through that. and i know that he has done similar things for many other people. all this just to say that paul has been a great help to me, and to many of the youth, and other members of the church. i intend to tell paul how loved he is, and i know you realize how loved he is as well.


Emma Burnham:  Dear Paul, Thank you so much for providing a wonderful student ministries! It has brought me to a spiritual level that I would not be at if I had not come to Corinth. Thank you for always encouraging me musically and spiritually! You are an amazing musician as well as a pastor! God has gifted you with so many talents and it is wonderful to see how you use them for His glory not your own! So I would just like to brag on you for faithfully giving the glory to God and I thank Christ for a willing servant and brother like you! I love your obedience to Christ, your servanthood, your love for other people, your musical talents, your preaching, you odd sense of humor…sometimes (it can be gross or weird), and your faithfulness to Corinth and it’s youth group! I congratulate you on your many accomplishment and thank you for your 10 years of service at Corinth Reformed Church!


Emma Szalay:  Thank you for being a good pastor that understands kids our age.  We appreciate all that you do!  Thanks.


Hannah Corder:  Paul is on fire for God and he encourages us in the youth group to get excited about being Christians which is great. I love him because he is super awesome and a great pastor/youthpastor!!!


Heather Hancock: I am so grateful for Paul and his willingness to be a DISCIPLE of Jesus Christ and share the Good News every minute of everyday with whomever needs to hear it! He loves His God, his family, and his people wholeheartedly and tenderly and each of our lives are much richer and sweeter for his influence upon them. I incredibly thankful for Paul – minister, evangelist, friend, and brother in Christ!!


Heather Hall: I feel incredibly blessed to know Paul Cummings. Not only has he been my youth pastor and mentor for the past ten years, but he has also been my friend. Paul has shown me what it truly means to be a light for Christ. His enthusiasm for the LORD is something I want to emulate. Like his song “Jesus in Me” says, “For I want the world to see, to see Jesus in me.” Knowing him has allowed me to witness a life that is completely devoted to Christ.

Jan Caldwell: I remember the first time I met Paul, during Staff Meeting, I wasn’t quite sure he would fit in with Corinth.  Paul was so different from the other staff and very young and witty.  It is obvious today that God has a plan for Paul’s life and he was meant to be here at Corinth.  Paul’s natural ability to connect with all ages and his heart for others has made his ministry blossom.  We are so richly blessed that God brought Paul to Corinth.  I look so forward to see how God will use Paul in the future. 

Jeni Thompson: For the past 10 years, Paul has been there for me, taught me, and watched me grow up. His biggest influence on my life is probably his example of Christ-like love. He is one of the only people I know that will drop whatever he is doing to meet someone new, no matter who it is, look into their face, and be sincerely glad to meet them. He is always serving and always giving the glory to God. I immediately thought Paul was cool when he played a Creed song for the youth when he first came here, but he has become so much more. A friend, mentor, worship leader, and pastor. I am blessed to have been impacted by him.

Joe Lippard:  Paul is one the wittiest people I know. Always willing to extend a hand to help the less fortunate, and treats those around him with love and care. Thank you Paul for your ministry to this church!

Kevin Watkins: The way Paul has loved me over the past four years has filled me with joy, made me cry, and has continuously led me to the feet of a loving God. I can offer no higher praise than because of the way Paul has loved me, I now know better the love of my Father.


Lauren O’Connor:  After my parents, no one person has influenced my life, and more importantly, my walk with God, more than Paul Cummings. Before I knew Paul, I didn’t know what living for Christ looked like. He gave me an example to follow, and over the years, has taught me more than I ever expected to learn. I’ve taken everything he’s ever said to heart; anything from pimple popping incidents to warning me away from the metaphorical wolves’ den. I love Paul, and I’m so blessed to have him as my brother in Christ. 


Linda Thompson:  I chaired the Search Team that brought Paul to Corinth.  We were looking for someone who had a deep love and commitment to Jesus, had musical gifts and who would be a “pied piper” in leading our youth.  Paul has fulfilled our expectations above and beyond what we had hoped.  I love Paul’s heart for the Lord and thank God for the gift that he is as a brother and pastor here at Corinth.


Liz Kunkel: Youth has always been the highlight of my week during the school year. Paul makes youth worth coming to. I am so blessed to have him as a role-model and an amazing brother in Christ. I love you, Paul. You mean so much to me.

Luke and Joshua Lowry: Paul is an awesome guy.  Not only is he fun to hang out with, bet he is a great role model too and encourages me in my faith.


Martin and Cheryl Szalay:  Thanks for making us feel welcome at Corinth.  We appreciate all you do as our pastor!  Thanks for sharing the love of Christ with all of us.  Happy 10th anniversary at Corinth!


Matthew Lowry: Paul is an awesome guy.  He is a strong Christian and a really influential person.  He is like the big brother you want to be like.


Melissa Shuford:  I love the passion and enthusiasm that Paul brings in His walk with Christ…He is awesome!


Mike Giuliani: Never in a lifetime I would have thought a pastor would become my “BFF”… Paul is one-of-a-kind! Hard rock yet with the heart of a true servant of God but most importantly the most humble and most genuine pastor I have ever met. I am honored to have him in my life and to call him a true friend.


Rachel and Brian Gee:  Our friend Paul is our pastor and a wonderful friend. We  love him for being ” real”  and love for Christ is a light in our lives. He always makes us laugh and love having him around. What a blessing Paul Cummings is to our family..thanks for your friendship.. God Bless you.


Rachel Hammer:  Paul is one of the main reasons I kept coming back to Corinth in the beginning. He made a point to make me feel welcome and remembered my name. He introduced me to a lot of other people and probably knew Dave and I would get married before we knew!  Paul is amazing in his determination to reach our youth which I feel is critical in today’s world, and he is very passionate and real in his messages on Sunday mornings. The world would do well to have more Pastor Pauls. He and his family are some of mine and Dave’s most favorite people!


Richelle Roithner:  Paul is a great role model and really shines for God.  He has always been able to get me excited to live for Jesus in all that I do. Honestly out of all his talents and just love for God the thing about him that influences me the most is his compassion and humility.  He always makes it known that its all about God and not about him, and if you ever need help with anything he is there in a second. I love that you can honestly just see God’s love flowing out of him, and he inspires me to want that love just constantly flowing out of me and to try to be the best servant to God I can be.


Sarah Lowry: Paul has made such an impact on me this past year and a half that I have been at Corinth.  He is the type of guy that makes having a relationship with Christ so attractive and fun.  I really look up to him and never hesitate to brag on my awesome youth pastor.  He is a really great teacher and he makes the Bible really come alive and be practical to my life today.


Sharon Rowe: Paul is like a brother to me. He is fun to work with and I love his kind spirit. Paul is always there to lend a helping hand and he doesn’t just help in his area of ministry. He is there for everyone!  I love the way God uses Paul when he preaches on Sunday mornings. He has a special gift that makes everyone feel comfortable when they spend time with him. I love you Paul and I am blessed because you are my friend.


Shannon Burel:  I have only known Paul personally for nine months and am eternally blessed by his service in ministry at Corinth and in his life as a great encourager!  I had “heard” about Paul Cummings but did not know what a treat we were in for in “knowing” him.  Paul has a gift of sharing God’s Word and It’s application to life in an amazing way.  He is funny, witty, vulnerable, transparent, honest, humble, encouraging and so talented as a worship leader.  His passion for music to God’s glory is evident as he leads the body of Christ before the throne in worship and praise. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”(Jas 1:17)  Paul is a good gift and far from perfect and he would be the first to admit both.  Yet as he reflects God’s glory, as is true for each of us in Christ, he indeed is absolutely perfect in His Father’s eyes.  So thankful for Paul.


Shawn and Paula Dagenhardt:  Paul,  your love for the Lord and for the youth of Corinth is awe-inspiring.  We can’t thank you enough for sharing that with our children in so many unique, creative, and caring ways. Lance had a great experience at Student Life Camp this year.  I hope he and Lindsay can both go next year.  Thank you again for your commitment to the future of Corinth Reformed Church.  God bless you.

Tammy Mumford: Paul plays an amazing important role in the life of the Mumford family, I knew when I heard him preach and lead worship 6 years ago, that if anyone could be used by the Lord to open a then closed, and somewhat cynical heart to Christ- it would be Paul. Paul’s style of worship, the Rock-like music, concert-like energy…I knew first the music would hook Phil. Paul’s a straight shooter, smart, and takes real-life experiences and connects them clearly to God’s will…that would be the second cerebral part to hook Phil. Paul is a confidant, an accountability partner, a shepherd, a brother, a friend, an example of what a Disciple of Christ is to myself and my family. I love him and am pleased to serve in service to Christ alongside him.


Tracey Bolick: I was on the search team that called Paul into ministry at CRC. He submitted a video interview that was so entirely Paul–funny, truthful, casual and loving.  At the beginning of his video, I could see some of the members of the search committee squint their eyebrows and wonder if he was “for real”. By the end of the tape, we were all sold!  You never know what will come out of Paul’s mouth. Sometimes he gets right to the line of being inappropriate but he doesn’t cross it:  he loves people too much!  The Holy Spirit shines through in the way he loves others. When Paul hugs you, it’s like God is wrapping his arms around you. I often think of myself as the older sister Paul never wanted! He is easy to be open and honest with and he has a clear vision of God’s truth in his life. He and Danielle have been such blessings to my family. I cannot imagine our lives without him! Even Wade wrote an essay once describing Paul -as his hero–someone he would most like to emulate! Can’t ask for more than that!


Shawn and Paula Dagenhardt:  Paul,  your love for the Lord and for the youth of Corinth is awe-inspiring.  We can’t thank you enough for sharing that with our children in so many unique, creative, and caring ways. Lance had a great experience at Student Life Camp this year.  I hope he and Lindsay can both go next year.  Thank you again for your commitment to the future of Corinth Reformed Church.  God bless you.

William and Toni Hall: When Paul first came to Corinth, I described him as “the Pied Piper for Jesus” because kids were drawn to the LORD through his charismatic personality. Whether he’s sharing the Bible, the gospel, or the right way to live, Paul seems to see the world through our children’s eyes and presents Christ in such a way that they see choosing Christianity as the cool thing to do! Words cannot express how thankful we are that Paul came to Corinth when he did, because Heather has had the opportunity to grow up with him as a positive role model and influence from middle school all the way through college. His sermons and his music have impacted William’s and my life as well, and his heartfelt enthusiasm and love for Jesus is exciting and contagious! We love Paul and see him a blessing to our whole family!



One Response to Ten Years of Surprises »

  • Chorusboy says:

    Anthony Mario De Nuccio II – when I first moved here to Hickory Paul took me to Chick-fil-a – he paid for my lunch and showed me how to order from a new menu I have never seen being from the West and Northwest. he turned me on to their special sauce ! He was really cool and introduced me to Peter and the choir. Fun fun fun – Paul’s life is a true Celebration of Jesus’ love!
    ( do not confuse with celibate) I love Paul’s humor and stories in sermons – also his transparency in those stories.

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