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"Saying Yes," Welcoming Marc Boswell to Lake Providence
by Kyle Kelley

Marc Boswell

Marc Boswell

I have always liked that "Providence" is right there in the name of our community of service in Together for Hope. Lake Providence is a place where God has called us together in partnership for mission. Now, Providence has brought a new servant, Marc Boswell, to lead the work.

Dr. Marc Boswell's experiences and passion suggest something about God's timing. Born and raised in very rural North Carolina, (not far from the Mt. Olive Pickle Factory) his extended family has known and still know rural poverty. Coming from an under resourced public school system, Marc has learned to value education as evidenced by his excelling at the local Mt. Olive Baptist college, advancing to Union Seminary at Richmond, followed by Garrett Evangelical Seminary in Chicago where he earned his PhD with an emphasis on the church and racial reconciliation.

At age 16, Marc was befriended by an African American Pastor who helped him discern his call to ministry and then provided ample opportunities to preach in revivals. He also gave generous helpings of mentoring as they traveled together. "Pastor Doug taught me how to listen," recalls Mark. His African American congregation welcomed him with open arms and nurtured his faith in a cultural setting which would shape his ministry and prepare him for a setting like Lake Providence.

Marc Boswell in Lake Providence
Marc Boswell, center, in Lake Providence on recent mission trip

His world expanded beyond his rural background and came to embrace the larger community of faith in the Methodist and Presbyterian traditions, but he has chosen to keep his roots in the Baptist family. He currently serves in a Presbyterian church in Richmond as a Pastoral Administrator where he has honed ministerial and organizational skills. He has also maintained ties at Baptist Seminary of Richmond, Campbellsville College and CBF-Virginia where he has preached at their Mission Madness event. 

"Is he an educator?" Mrs. JoAnn Jones, Principal at Northside Elementary in Lake Providence, wanted to know of me upon learning of Mark's coming. "He is a minister who loves education," I told her. In fact, he is currently Visiting Professor at Union Seminary in Richmond and has taught at Mt. Olive, Virginia Commonwealth and in church youth and adult settings and in prison settings. At this, he too excels based on those toughest critics of all - online student evaluations. 

As his work and study has taken him to urban settings, he has sought to live incarnationally choosing both in Chicago and Richmond to live in transitional neighborhoods. Yet his heart has always been in the rural areas from which he comes. He is well aware of the challenges ahead, but also the beauty of Lake Providence as he stopped in our conversations with Sister Bernie and Ken and Shirley Crump to take a picture of the lake to send to his parents. "It feels like coming home," he said. 

Brother Buechner is on to something when he says vocation is that place God calls you "where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." We are thankful God calls, that Marc said "Yes," and that now we too say "Yes" to our work together in praying, supporting and walking alongside in the ministry of Together for Hope.

Thanks to the search committee who worked with me in this process which included Griff Martin, Katie Mussat, Samantha Oakley, and Chris Thacker. Marc is slated to start September 1, but will be traveling to Lake Providence during transition. 

Marc Boswell and new friends
Marc Boswell with Day Camp at Progressive Chapel in Lake Providence