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      Pastor Ken Nelson: 'If it wasn't for Epworth, I'd be in prison'

      The Picture Perfect Gala, sponsored by the Friends of Epworth and WACH-Fox, is scheduled for February 15 and promises to be a â??black tie with flair.â??

      COLUMBIA (WACH) ?? ??I am clear within my own mind that if it wasn??t for Epworth (Children??s Home) I wouldn??t be a Methodist pastor now,?? says Pastor Ken Nelson as he looks back at his six years at Epworth Children??s Home in Columbia .

      Pastor Ken was placed at Epworth when we was ten years old, having been removed from his childhood home after being a victim of physical and sexual abuse. He recalls the first time he arrived on campus, and seeing the ??long stretch?? that lead to the church, and not being ??too fond of that.?? Pastor Ken said that the boy that would become a Methodist pastor was not a big fan of the church or religion, as he was ??still trying to make sense of where god was in the midst of what I had experienced.??

      It wasn??t God, at the time, he was seeking. Ken said he was ??trying to find a place to feel like you were safe. Where you belong. A place where you would know what to expect from day to day.??

      Although from the first day, he found fellow students that gave him comfort, it took the months that followed that first day to feel that security. But that security did come. The trust did come. The feeling of self worth did come for the pastor. It was the simple things that are often taken for granted that gave him peace. ??When you didn??t have any control in your life or a sense of safety,?? says Ken, things like meals and shelter provided a feeling of safety.

      Over time, Pastor Ken found not only the ??sacred worth?? he needed but that people expected things from him and believed in him.

      Over the 6 years he spent at Epworth, Pastor Ken??s foundation for his eventual path to ministry came from a pastor who worked there. Interestingly, it wasn??t the pastor??s preaching the love of God that spoke to Ken. It was the time out of the pulpit, talking with him about ??real stuff.?? It was the trust that the pastor put in him the day he handed Ken the keys, and asked him to lock the church up.??

      ??He didn??t just talk about love, he demonstrated love,?? Ken said. He began to see the other people around him to show him love. When he experienced the love of other people who weren??t related to him, but still loved him unconditionally, it caused him to question its meaning. ??It caused me to rethink what I had experienced along the way. I had to move beyond being suspicious of other people.??

      Ken believes that without Epworth his life would have been totally different, indicating that he may have tried to overcome his wounds through drugs or alcohol or ended up in prison. ??I am clear within my own mind, if it wasn??t for Epworth, I wouldn??t be a United Methodist pastor now.??

      Pastor Ken doesn??t think that every child that experiences Epworth will become a Methodist pastor, but ??every child will know that they have been loved and cared about by someone ?? that they have value, and I think that makes all the difference in helping people to find their way on their Journey.??

      The Epworth Children??s Home has been serving children, providing a safe, stable environment since 1895, and serves approximatley 80 children on the 32 acre campus.

      If you would like to support the mission of Epworth, you can experience a night unlike any other celebrating the bright futures of children who once had little reason to hope.

      Come celebrate "A Night at the Silver Screen", sponsored by the Friends of Epworth and WACH-Fox, scheduled for February 14. This annual gala promises to be a ??black tie with flair.?? Tickets for the event are $100 for a single and $150 for a couple. Tokyo Joe will provide the musical backdrop, and Good Day's Tyler Ryan will once again host this very special evening.

      You can learn more about the Night At The Silver Screen Gala HERE .