OAKLAND MILLS - At age 9, Amanda Weaver, of Gratz, believed she was called to be a pastor's wife.
At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, that pastor, Andrew Thomas, will be installed as senior pastor at Oakland Mills Evangelical Methodist Church.
Thomas, originally from Indianapolis, Ind., is finishing up his studies at Penn View Bible Institute as he takes on the full-time position.
Sentinel photo by Tabitha Goodling
Amanda and Andrew Thomas stand outside their McAlisterville home. Andrew will become the senior pastor at Oakland Mills Evangelical Methodist Church on Sunday.
Thomas came to the Oakland Mills church more than a year ago as interim pastor. In the past several months, much has changed at the church.
Thomas also is a music major and has collaborated with church members to form a new church choir, The Resurrection Choir.
There is a new website being built, and the church held its first Christmas and Easter programs in years, filling the facility with between 70 to 165 people at those events.
Thomas, 24, has many ideas and hopes for the congregation. However, his work with the church may not have happened if he and his future bride at the time did not listen to God a few years ago.
Andrew met Amanda through friendship with her relatives. The couple began dating in 2009. A year and a half later, Amanda recalled that moment when she was 9 years old. She was thinking seriously about her future.
At the time, Andrew was a music major - not a pastor. Amanda set off for church camp and thought she would have to end the relationship.
Andrew, in the meantime, was at another church camp miles away.
Andrew said he never knew about what happened to Amanda at age 9 - that she felt this calling. She never told him until this point.
While at camp, Amanda answered a call to prayer. She went to the altar and prayed about how to break up with Andrew. She felt God telling her to wait.
"I always said it would take a bolt of lightning for God to get me to be a preacher," Andrew said.
He recalled an August night in 2011 when he was in Junction City, Ohio, sitting on the back of a pick -up truck. It was 3 a.m., and he was thinking about his life as he talked to two pastors.
"I was looking at this blade of grass, and God spoke to me. He said, 'Andrew, I've called you to preach.'" Andrew recalled.
Andrew said he knew in his heart this was real. He had no idea his girlfriend was about to break up with him. So he called her two days later.
He told Amanda he knew three things - "I am saved. I am sanctified. And I'm going to marry you."
Amanda chuckled at the brave comment Andrew had made. He then told her he knew a fourth thing.
"I'm called to be a pastor, he said.
Amanda cried. She then told him how God called her to be a pastor's wife.
They wed in 2013.
The Thomases are about to welcome their first child November.
The journey to Sunday's installation has not always been an easy one. Andrew had thought he had a church in New Jersey shortly after he received his calling. The tiny church rescinded its offer.
Then the president of the ministerial division at Penn View Bible Institute led Andrew to Oakland Mills in the early part of 2013, months after Frank Trego, senior pastor, retired.
The Thomases feel this is where God wants them to be.
Church services begin weekly on Sundays with Sunday school at 9:30 a.m., worship at 10:30 a.m. and an evening service at 7 p.m. Wednesday night prayer group begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night youth services start at 6 p.m. weekly.