By Joey McWilliams
The new pastor the Durant First Presbyterian Church has been at work in town for about six weeks and he said he is just doing the things that pastors do.
“Getting to know my people and getting to know the community better and trying to make a difference,” Mike Manaugh said.
Manaugh comes to Durant from Oklahoma City, where he and his family had lived for the past two years. Prior to that, he served eight years as the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Manchester, Iowa.
“We moved back to be closer to home. I grew up there in Oklahoma City and my wife grew up in Broken Arrow and we met at the University of Tulsa.”
He got his bachelor’s degree at TU and his seminary education at Columbia Seminary in Decatur, Ga., a Presbyterian seminary just outside Atlanta.
“We were down there for three years and then decided to move up to the snowy, cold upper Midwest,” Manaugh said. “We absolutely loved being in northeast Iowa and I grew to love that place and love those people and love that church. But our kids were getting older and we wanted to get them closer to the grandparents.”
When the opportunity opened in Durant, things seemed to click.
“We started talking with this church and things just felt right. We talked with the search committee and they reminded us a lot of the committee we talked to back in Iowa. I mean, almost down to the names of the people on the committee, there were literally common names. And the personalities were similar.
“The strengths and the challenges of the church here are also similar to what I went to there. It’s a church that looks and may feel at times that maybe its better days are in the past. And I have a heart for those kind of churches. I have a heart to go in and remind them that this is still God’s church and He decides when are better days.”
The church started a search committee in late 2016 to bring in a new pastor. Dave Smith had been the interim pastor at the Durant Presbyterian Church for a while, commuting from Tyler, Texas.
“The process went pretty fast,” Manaugh said. “But I think that was because we both felt pretty good about each other. We felt it moved pretty quickly.”
Manaugh and his wife Lauren have a son, Cortland, and a daughter, Ellie.
He had been serving as a supply pastor in Duncan and finished his commitment there at the end of May, beginning in Durant on June 4. He said he is still learning the community and area and trying to ascertain the needs here.
“I was at my last church eight years and I felt like it took me a good two to three years to feel like the community we were in was home. And I believe very deeply in the value of long pastorates. I think pastors move too often. And I know there are extenuating circumstances that can sometimes lead to that.
“When I went to Iowa, I thought I’d stay there for three years. And three years turned to four, and then five and six and seven and eight. And when we left at eight, I was sad. I was having fun and I wanted to stay longer. Because I felt like I was really finally hitting my stride. I had become part of the community.
“We’re exploring that here. I’m still seeing what the needs are and encouraging the congregation in helping me in that process and also to understand that we’re all in that together. We’re all sent out to be ambassadors and the hands and feet of Christ in this community. Whether we’re going out as a formal project of the church or we’re just going out in our daily lives to love our neighbors.
“But I’m certain there’s a need here or there wouldn’t be a First Presbyterian Church or God wouldn’t have us here. And the other churches as well to do His work.”
Sunday morning church service starts at 11 a.m. with Sunday School beginning at 9:45 a.m.
“We’d certainly love for anybody to come and visit us. We hope that folks who come find the worship to be Christ-exalting and Biblically-centered and Biblically-faithful and relevant to the challenges of living in these days. And also that the congregation is found to be welcoming and loving and friendly.”