LUMC gets new ‘Tallent’ in the pulpit

-A A +A
By Susan Sharp

Sitting in an office with boxes yet to be unpacked, Jeff Tallent already feels at home.

“We are glad to be here,” Tallent said.

Tallent and his wife Cindy moved to Campbell County on June 20.

The duo came here as part of Jeff Tallent’s appointment as pastor at the LaFollette United Methodist Church.

It was a last minute change of plans.

Tallent was slated to pastor the Valley Forge Methodist Church in Elizabethton. It would have been a 45-minute move for them.

But as other moves were made in Methodist churches across the region, Tallent’s assignment changed.

While officials in the church couldn’t reveal to Tallent his new church, they kept assuring him “it’s going to be good.”

The next time Tallent saw the district superintendent, he thanked him.

The unexpected move to LaFollette not only meant the Tallents had to adjust but their family had to as well.

Their daughter, Chrissy, and granddaughter, Kaelin, soon moved into the couple’s home in upper east Tennessee. What was once a short drive to visit has become one that takes just over two hours.  Tallent said that is an adjustment for the girls. But son Josh has other things on his mind. He is hiking the Appalachian Trail. On Sunday, Tallent asked the LUMC congregation to be in prayer for his son during the trek.

Having worked in various other vocations before joining the ministry, Tallent said it seemed as if all those jobs had brought him to Campbell County previously.

So when the move came through, he was already “familiar with the area.”

Growing up in Knoxville, Tallent had always attended Methodist churches. Later when he and his wife married and had children, they continued in the Methodist faith. Eventually, he began to work with the youth group. It was during a mission trip in the Cumberland Mountains that he first felt the desire to become a minister.

“I was touched while standing there watching the youth play Frisbee football. It was a calling I could not deny,” Tallent said of that day in 1993.

When he returned home the next day the first thing he did was tell his wife.

This led to a three year process of becoming a Methodist minister.

In 1996 Tallent received his first appointment to a church in Kingsport.

It was also at this time Tallent went back to school to complete his college education.

In 2001 he completed a degree in history and philosophy from East Tennessee State University. That fall he entered Duke Divinity School. Recently he completed his Masters of Divinity.

Aside from a desire to serve God, Tallent has a passion for mission work. He has been a part of mission work both locally and abroad. From trips to Haiti to mission work in area neighborhoods, Tallent has been active in spreading God’s word for several years.

Coming to LaFollette, he sees many opportunities to continue this work.

At his previous appointment, he helped build ramps for handicapped people at their homes. On Monday, he will join the men of the LUMC Sawing Circle to build a ramp locally.

“We have mission work right here in our backyard,” Tallent said.