Minister promoting lay leadership
Full-time pastor; part-time Elvis impersonator.
Rev. Francis Stockton has been pastor at Tonganoxie United Methodist Church since July 1 and in March will celebrate 30 years as a minister.
He also loves to sing and play his guitar, as well as old hymns.
But he has “a hidden dark side” in the form of his Elvis impersonation. It started years ago when it was requested he sing Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.” A parishioner then made a jumpsuit to match the artist. He now does a program of Elvis songs at nursing homes and other venues.
“This is what Elvis would be like if he lived this long,” Stockton said with a laugh. “Old and fat and whatever.”
Of course there’s much more to Stockton than blue suede shoes.
A 1965 graduate of Topeka High School, Stockton served in the Navy from 1966 to 1970. He later earned a degree from Washburn University in Topeka and then St. Paul’s School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo.
He served at churches in Independence, Kan., Ottawa and Osage City before coming to Tonganoxie.
“I like the town,” Stockton said about his most recent assignment. “I love the location and the people have been friendly to me.”
Stockton noted that during the last 10 years at Tonganoxie United Methodist Church, the church has had several pastors who have not served very long.
“I am aware of that,” Stockton said. “Even as I am aware that I’m going to retire soon. They don’t need another short-term pastor.”
Stockton said he plans to stay past retirement and provide some stability in that regard.
“That’s another decision I’ve made is to stay longer,” Stockton said.
Lay leadership is something Stockton has been promoting. He has been working with members of the congregation in various committees. For instance, he said the worship committee, which R.J. Stephenson chairs, has been “doing some excellent work.”
“I am encouraged; they seem to be ready for that,” Stockton said, referring to committee work. “Several individuals have stepped up and are doing some neat things.”
Stockton and his wife, Donna, have four daughters and “an assortment of grandchildren.” They also care for Donna’s brother, Larry, who is disabled.
Stockton replaced Stan Hughes, who retired this past summer.
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