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Pastor Jay Wilde joined Wesley Community Church

Some may consider travelling 1,950 kilometres for work a little scary, but that was the leap of faith Jay Wilde was willing to take.

The Lake Preston, South Dakota native relocated to Pembroke about a month ago to take a job as the youth pastor and head up the music ministry at Wesley Community Church. After graduating from Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois with a bachelor of arts degree with an emphasis on a pastoral ministry and minor in music, he began searching for jobs throughout the Wesleyan denomination. After trying a few churches closer to home, he didn't find the right fit so he asked God for some direction.

Some might think Canada was a strange choice for him, but after travelling 1,190 kilometres for college, he figured what's another 750 kilometres.

"When you are open to taking risks with God, you move where he wants you to move," he said. "I'm trying to follow his plans and things are starting to fall into place. It has been quite a journey."

He has been welcomed by the church community, so much so that when he had a death in the family just a week after arriving in Pembroke, the members of the congregation encouraged him to return home and even took up a collection for him.

"It's been quite a blessing so far," Pastor Wilde said during a recent interview in his office at the church. "It's been incredible. I've been overwhelmed by the hospitality. Everyone is so gracious."

He has plans to stay in Pembroke for at least three years because he feels that is enough time to grow relationships with the youth and their parents and give things a chance to develop. He doesn't rule out staying longer. At 22, he sees his age as an advantage because he can relate to the youth and recall experiences not far in the past to help guide them through difficult situations.

"One year is not giving ministry a chance, and it is not fair to the youth," he said. "I am willing to go wherever God wants me to go. Whatever He has planned for me is going to be good."

Pastor Wilde initially went to college with the intent of majoring in music as it has played an important role in his life since he began singing in seventh grade, including many years in the honour choir. He also began playing the piano at a young age under the direction and encouragement of his mother. He also received encouragement from from a former pastor who asked him to sing in church.

In his junior year of high school, he won the United States High School Musicians Award, one of only 96 presented to students across the country that year and the only one presented to a student in South Dakota.

During his second week in Greenville, he took part in the All College Hike, a day when the entire school gets out of class to hike five miles. Half way through the journey, he had a feeling that he couldn't shake.

"I felt a calling in my heart that I was not going to graduate from music," he explained.

His initial feeling was one of panic as to how he would break it to his parents that he was not going to graduate from this school known for music with a music degree, then he wondered what was he supposed to do.

"After much prayer it hit me that I needed to be in the ministry," Pastor Wilde said. "I felt God was telling me music was supposed to be in the background, which was quite a change for me, but definitely for the good."

From that moment on, he refocused his energies and decided to use music as a ministry tool.

He enjoys sharing his musical talents with the congregation and from all accounts it is enjoying what it brings to the services.

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