The weather that greeted Boulevard Presbyterian Church's new pastor may have been arctic, but the Rev. Preston Shealy said he is grateful for the warm reception the congregation has given him since he arrived at the beginning of the year.
"I love the openness to all people that is part of Boulevard's mission," Shealy said. "Boulevard truly seeks to share God's love with all people. God's love has touched us and we want to share that."
Shealy previously served as pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area.
"I really felt a calling to come to this community," he said. "I've always opened myself to wherever life leads me."
Before entering the seminary, Shealy earned a degree in accounting from Clemson University.
"I can say that, now that the Orange Bowl is over," he said with a hearty laugh.
After graduating from Clemson, Shealy enrolled in 1982 at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga.
"It was something I decided to do my senior year," he said. "(Wanting to enter the seminary) was a gradual thing. I finally told myself that I needed to stop ignoring the calling I felt."
After earning a master of divinity degree from Columbia, Shealy was ordained as a minister in 1986. He has served at churches in Illinois, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
He said he was immediately taken by the small-town feel Grandview has, despite its urban setting.
"Once this weather starts to warm up, I'm really looking forward to walking up (to Grandview Avenue) in the morning to get a cup of coffee," Shealy said.
It didn't take him long to discover Boulevard's strong connection to the Tri-Village area, he said.
"There's such a wonderful sense of community here," Shealy said. "Just last month, the church collected 250 socks, hats, mittens and gloves to donate to Neighborhood Services Inc."
The response to the church's middle school and high school youth in the Souper Bowl of Caring project on Super Bowl Sunday led to a generous donation to the NNEMAP Food Pantry, he said, and church members recently served meals to more than 300 people at the YMCA shelter.
"In my role, I want to help strengthen and enhance that mission of serving our community," Shealy said.
"I don't come in with the answers," he said. "I come in here to work with others in the church to find the answers."
Shealy's installation ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. March 2 at the church, 1235 Northwest Blvd.
He and his wife, Debbie, live in Hilliard. They have two children: Paige, a student at Maryville College in Tennessee, and Dustin, who serves in the U.S. Navy.
Debbie Shealy works as a physical therapist at OhioHealth Rehabilitation Hospital.