Co-pastoring couple ministers to community

Teresa and Leslie Whiting feel God has called them to serve not only as co-labors in their marriage, but also in their service to God.

So, on Feb. 3, 2002, the Whitings established the Church at Columbiana, a non-denominational church. Both Teresa and Leslie are ordained ministers.

The church meets each Sunday in the auditorium at Shelby County High School at 10:30 a.m. and on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. Their son, Maurice, and church member Ellen Glasser lead the youth ministry. This Easter season, the Whiting’s will be preaching on the Last Sayings of Christ.

Leslie Whiting is a familiar face at the Columbiana Post Office. He grew up in Pensacola and met his lovely wife when they were students at Alabama State University. After marriage and Leslie’s stint in the Army, they moved to Columbiana, just down the road from Shelby where Teresa grew up. Teresa Whiting is an active board member of the Shelby County Arts Council. They have four sons, one daughter, and 11 grandchildren.

This humble couple pastors their small, family-like congregation, which serves to fulfill unmet needs within our community, but desire no recognition of their work. Their mission is to serve the “ones” as from the passage in Luke 15:7 “… there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Their motive is to simply live a lives of faith that when they meet their maker is for Him to say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

The co-pastors serve in different ways. Brother Whiting’s heart leans toward the physical, external needs of the “ones.” His motto is, “People do not want to know what you know till they know you care.” Sister Whiting is called to serve more in one-on-one settings by counseling to the internal needs of the “ones.” This allows her to live out her own motto, “The only thing that numbers show is that we can count.”

The Whitings lead Sunday night services at the Youth Detention Center. Teresa has led a Bible class for 10 years at Shelby Woods Apartments for senior citizens.

For 18 years, the Whitings have had an active and thriving ministry within the Shelby County Jail. Several of Columbiana’s churches help assist with the jail ministry, which serves the inmates as a group by providing Bibles. As jail chaplain, Leslie also performs baptisms and offers communion to the inmates. One of the highlights of the year is at Christmas time when each inmate receives special package treats like Little Debby cakes, milk, orange juice, ice tea and Bibles. Last year the Little Debby Company heard of this ministry and donated many cakes for the Christmas party. Brother Whiting states that all ministers are welcome to help in this much-needed ministry.