Central UMC welcomes youth ministry director

Hannah Collins, Central United Methodist Church in Lenoir City children’s ministry director, lays out activities for Sunday school.

Although Hannah Collins is in her first weeks as Central United Methodist Church’s director of children’s ministries, she’s eager to get connected with the congregation and its children.

Collins was a teacher in Anderson County for two years before she and her husband moved to Lenoir City in 2018. After having her son in September, she knew she couldn’t keep commuting to work. She left her job and began looking for a part-time position closer to home where she could keep working with children.

Collins heard the position came available at the church and was hesitant to apply. She eventually took a leap of faith after a push from God and the Rev. Scott Layer, church pastor.

Before Collins attended Central UMC, she attended Morristown United Methodist Church where Layer was an associate pastor for seven years.

“I was really excited about it, like I might apply for this,” Collins said. “This would be perfect. Then I started talking myself out of it like, ‘You don’t even know if that’s appropriate to get a position where you’re a member or whatever.’ Anyway, I told my husband I’m not going to do it unless — I just don’t feel like God’s calling me for it and maybe the only sign that would mean he is calling me is if they reach out to me. Well the next day, Scott called.”

Collins took Layer’s call as a clear sign of what she was meant to do. Layer asked Collins if she would be interested in the position, and she said it seemed perfect.

“I’ve known Hannah since she was in ninth grade, and it’s kind of providential in the fact that when we came here to Lenoir City I guess four years ago, how she was looking for a church and moved into the area and started attending the church,” Layer said. “When the spot opened up for children’s ministry — I had done her baptism of her son Hudson in the early spring, and she mentioned that she was looking for a part-time position and didn’t want to drive as far. When the opportunity arose, I thought here’s the teacher of the year of Anderson County who I’ve known for such a long time and is such a great person, and I thought it’d be a great fit. We really feel very fortunate at the church to have her aboard.”

Collins is excited to work in a Christian environment where she can be open about her beliefs. She’s always had a passion for helping children, but the public school wasn’t where she was meant to be.

When Collins and her husband became members of the church in late 2019, they didn’t have much time to connect before COVID-19 forced church shutdowns. She’s excited her new position will allow her to meet people and grow within the church.

Collins hopes to expand the nursery and offer resources and reassurances to new parents who may be uncomfortable bringing their baby to church.

Children’s ministry impacted Collins greatly, and she wants to share that with future generations.

“Being someone that grew up in a church with a children’s program and children’s ministry in my life was just amazing,” Collins said. “That’s where I found my best friends for life that I am still best friends with to this day. It really impacted me a whole lot, and I want that for my son, so getting to have a hand in helping to create and foster that here, it’s really important to me professionally but also personally to help build a ministry that my son will grow up in.”