TEMPLE TERRACE - While the Rev. David Garnett, the new interim pastor at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church, might be well into adulthood, he's never forgotten something he was taught as a child - that God has a plan for the lives of each and every one of his earthly creatures.
While it's a philosophy he's firmly believed in for years, it took him a while to figure out what the plan was for his life.
Garnett graduated from Seattle's University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in business administration. His studies focused primarily on accounting, a subject that helped him land his first job as a state auditor in Juneau, Alaska.
"I knew right away that I was not placed in the proper place," said Garnett, who sensed he was being called into Presbyterian ministry, a Christian church denomination he'd gotten involved in during his college years.
But he stuck with the well-paying auditor position for a year and a half, because it afforded him the opportunity to attend Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and fulfill his vision of becoming a Presbyterian minister.
Garnett, 56, has found his background in finance a blessing in his career as a church leader. And his former nighttime job - as a TV weatherman in Juneau - he said has helped hone his public speaking skills.
He also believes that the chance meeting he had with his soon to be wife, Molly, a North Carolina native who did an internship at Garnett's first home church in the Pacific Northwest, was divinely designed. The couple have two sons, 19 and 23.
Prior to his June 23 debut at the Temple Terrace church at 420 Bullard Parkway, Garnett served several Presbyterian congregations, including five years at churches in Booth, N.C., and 20 years pastoring in Knoxville, Tenn.
The temporary assignment to Temple Terrace was needed after the previous minister, the Rev. Elizabeth Kuehl, moved to Bradenton due to her husband's job.
The Garnetts relocated to Florida a few years ago, after his wife was hired as a chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. Since settling in the state, David Garnett has also been an interim pastor at Whitfield Estate Presbyterian Church in Sarasota and Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in Tampa.
Garnett, who commutes from his home in Northdale, said his first order of business has been to meet individually with the church's elders.
"From that I'll be able to see the big picture of what the church needs," said Garnett, who noted the average assignment span for interim pastors is about two years.
He also plans to study the congregation's overall health to determine if there any grievances or unsolved conflicts.
"What are good things that have blessed the church and what are some things than are in the shadows and are keeping the church from going forward," he said.
He also hopes to get the church better connected with the Presbytery of Tampa Bay, the governing body of the 71 Presbyterian churches throughout the area.
"Rev. Garnett does what he does with great care and he also does it with a great deal of compassion for the people he serves," said Nancy Kahaian, transitional executive presbyter for the Presbytery of Tampa Bay.
The church's secretary, Jeanne Carignan, is delighted to have Garnett on board.
"I have a feeling he is going to be very, very easy to work with," she said.
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