SALISBURY — The Rev. Rusty Davis has been standing at the pulpit in the sanctuary of East Parish United Methodist Church for eight years, the pastor of a congregation he loves. But that will come to an end soon when he leaves to lead another church.
The 61-year-old Davis has been reassigned by the Methodist Church, and he’ll be taking over at United Church of Christ-Federated Church in Webster next month.
“The Methodist Church was founded by John Wesley, who believed that the world is your parish, and you should be able to minister to anyone in any place,” Davis said. “Typically in the Methodist Church, pastors are reassigned every three to five years. I’ve been here for eight and that’s rare.”
Davis was born and raised in Byfield, and even as a child heading down Beach Road with his seven brothers and sisters, he’d look at East Parish Meetinghouse and marvel at the tall, white steeple with its black-faced clock with the words “Memorial Gift” where the numbers usually are.
He spent the first part of his working career as a postman, delivering the mail in West Newbury for 21 years before he retired. Upon retirement, however, he actualized his calling to God’s service, entering seminary and then becoming an ordained minister in 1999. He took over his first church in Warren, N.H., then was assigned to a congregation in Peabody, and then to three churches simultaneously in Maine, before being coming to Salisbury.
“Coming to East Parish was like coming home,” he said. “I still have a lot of family and friends in the area. It very rarely happens that ministers are assigned so close to home.”
The congregation was led by Pastor John Folley for 15 years from 1985 to 2000, Davis said, followed by a series of pastors within a short period before Davis took over eight years ago.