Calvary United Methodist Church in Somerset was appointed a new pastor by the Western PA United Methodist Conference. On July 1, the Rev. Arnold T. McFarland was welcomed by the congregation as he began his ministry at Calvary.
Many people remember McFarland from his first career in broadcast journalism. After graduating from Penn State University in 1976, McFarland began his radio career in Somerset County at what was WCCS in Central City.
From 1976-2002, McFarland worked at several different radio stations in Somerset and Cambria counties including WVSC where he worked for 10 years and was the news director. He was briefly on television as a weatherman with WJAC-TV and also hosted a talk show on that TV station called Morning Break.
McFarland is a native of Birmingham, Ala., but moved to Pennsylvania with his parents as a teenager. He was graduated from Westmont High School.
It was during his freshman year at college when a career aptitude test prompted him to consider becoming a pastor. The scores for the test indicated he would be well suited as a minister. At that time, however, he thought the idea of his becoming a member of the clergy was absurd and that the test was inaccurate.
His career in the media came to an end shortly after Sept. 11, at a time when advertising for radio was so low that many people were laid off from their jobs.
McFarland was raised in the Episcopalian Church and then as an adult became a member of the United Methodist Church. He became a Certified Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church.
It is the tradition of the United Methodist Church to develop a cadre of lay speakers and lay ministers to supplement the ranks of full-time paid pastors. These lay speakers are trained and certified by the conference to preach first in their home churches, and then to fill in with preaching in other churches as they are called upon when needed.
United Methodist Church pastors are appointed by the bishop for only one year at a time. Every year the bishop appoints the pastor to stay or to move to a different church.
McFarland says in 1991, and again in 2001, he was presented with opportunities as lay speaker to go the next level and actually become a local pastor, but he turned those opportunities down. It wasn't until 2002 that he became a clergy member.