Tech-savvy pastor brings new life to Cook’s Memorial

by Alan Hodge

Tech-savvy pastor brings new life to Cook’s Memorial. (Alan Hodge/MIM photo)

CHARLOTTE – Cook’s Memorial Presbyterian Church in the Mountain Island community is looking to attract a younger crowd, and new associate pastor Rev. Steven Barnes is just the man for the job.

A native of Texas, the 35-year-old began his duties at Cook’s Memorial, located at 3413 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, this summer and said he couldn’t be happier.

“We love it here,” Barnes said. “I think there are about as many Presbyterian churches here as there are Starbucks in Dallas.”

Barnes, his wife, Dency, and their 8-year-old daughter, Nicole, are now calling the Huntersville area home. He said Dency had visited the Charlotte region with her job at Bank of America and gave the city glowing reports.

“When I got the interview at Cook’s Memorial,” Barnes said, “we jumped for joy.”

A history buff himself, Barnes said he has already looked into the rich traditions of Cooks Memorial. The church began as an offshoot of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church in the 1880s, officially becoming organized and named after the church’s first pastor, the Rev. George L. Cook, a few years later.

“Five clans of Scots founded (the church) back in 1891,” Barnes said.

According to Cook’s Memorial Pastor T.J. Thompson, one of the reasons Barnes was selected for his new post was that the church’s congregation wanted to find someone up to speed on social networking technology.

“I’m not very good at (using) things like Twitter,” Thompson said. “Steven knows all about it. His age and expertise in technology will help us reach out to younger folks.”

Barnes started working with the Cook’s Memorial youth group from the minute he came on board. He’s already led a mission trip to the remote North Carolina mountain community of Hayesville in Clay County.

“We did things such as home repairs and built a handicapped ramp,” Barnes said. “The kids love it. I learned a lot about plumbing myself.”

Thanks to the effort that Barnes has been putting into his job, the church’s youth group roster has been steadily growing.

“There was a drop off in the number of young people at Cook’s Memorial,” Barnes said. “But now, we have as many as thirty youths in our group.”

Barnes also has been busy finding ways in which to move the church into the center of community life in the Mountain Island Lake area. He has been out and about, taking part in various activities in local neighborhoods and housing developments, including the Overlook community.

“I focus on the idea of the strength we gain from being a community,” Barnes said. “You can’t be a Lone Ranger Christian. Part of our faith is being a community with each other.”

In keeping with Barnes’ high-tech outreach philosophy, anyone interested in contacting Barnes may do so on Twitter – his user name is @revbarnsey – or by email at revbarnesy@att.net. Find out more information about Cooks Memorial Presbyterian Church online at www.cookschurch.org or or search for Cooks Memorial Presbyterian Church on Facebook.

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