Terry Cummings may have retired from his role as a Hermiston pastor, but his general role in serving the Hermiston community as a man of faith isn’t over quite yet.

He retired in November as senior pastor at the Hermiston Church of the Nazarene but will continue to serve as the lead chaplain for the Hermiston police and fire departments.

Cummings won’t only be performing his usual duties, however, as this month he starts his new role as the coordinator for a new city program called “It’s Just Dinner.”

Through the program, Cummings, assigned mentors and/or members of the school district will meet with troubled youth and possibly their parents over dinner. The purpose of the program is to try and instill a positive influence in their lives.

“That is going to be fun,” Cummings said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

He said his participation in the It’s Just Dinner program probably wouldn’t have happened, however, if he hadn’t taken the call to ministry as a young man.

Cummings said it was what he considers a call from God in his teenage years that led him to become a pastor.

“It was a process,” he said of his initial interest in becoming a pastor. “It was long conversations with my dad, who is a very Godly person, with other pastors and other people that I respected. A lot of prayer. And you finally realize that God is confirming this call on your life and you can’t do anything else and be satisfied.”

Cummings served at a number of churches throughout the Northwest, including congregations in Washington, California, Colorado and Idaho before making the leap to Hermiston. Seven years ago he got the call to serve as the interim pastor of the Hermiston Church of the Nazarene. He was later asked to sign on to the position on a permanent basis.

“We fell in love with Hermiston and the people,” he said of himself and his wife.

Looking back on his life as a pastor, Cummings said he really enjoyed what he considers his life-long calling.

“The ministry is not something you go into just because you want to find a career,” he said. “It is too tough. There are too many struggles.”

Cummings said the main reason he believes people go into ministry is because they are called to the opportunity. Despite the hardships, he said, the blessings along the way were phenomenal. He said God used people to influence his life and bless him in many ways.

“The old adage is true,” he said. “People can be Jesus with skin on.”

Cummings said his job as a Nazarene Church pastor came with mistakes and trials, but he considers that part of being human. He said he wishes he could go back and change certain things, but that is probably the way it is with all pastors. Regardless, he said he proudly served as a pastor for 43 years.

“It is the only thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Two years ago, Cummings worked with new Police Chief Jason Edmiston to start a chaplain program in Hermiston. He had previously been a chaplain in Cheney, Wash., prior to moving to Hermiston. Cummings said he has enjoyed both his time as a pastor and as a chaplain.

Now, Cummings said he is looking forward to expanding his role as the lead chaplain with the Hermiston police and fire departments and not splitting his time between that and the church.

With the “It’s Just Dinner” program, he will work with the Community Accountability Board, the Hermiston School District and a variety of volunteer mentors to make a difference in children’s lives.

“These kids have a lot of potential,” he said. “It just needs to be directed in a positive way. We are hoping that the outcome of that dinner will just add positive influence in their lives because they are not bad kids. They have made some mistakes. Well, who of us haven’t? They just need some help and, in some cases, some redirection.”

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