GUMC in Copperas Cove bids farewell to Pastor Kissa Vaughn
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Rev. Kissa Vaughn completed her last sermon and last day as the pastor at Grace United Methodist Church Sunday morning.
Vaughn has served as the pastor at Grace United Methodist Church since July 2014. She has been assigned to serve as the pastor for St. Barnabas United Methodist Church in Arlington. Her first day at her new church will be August 7.
During her eight years at Grace United Methodist Church, Vaughn has overseen the growth of the church and the changes in how people worship at this church, with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to the livestreaming of the worship services and sermons every Sunday. There was also Winter Storm Uri and the deep freeze of February 2021, which resulted in water damage to nearly the entire church building, minus the sanctuary, and led to the remodeling of the church, which finished earlier this spring.
Vaughn and her husband, Doug, also expanded their family while at Grace United Methodist Church with the adoption of their daughter Madison, who turns 7 this August, joining their son, Hamilton, 12.
Vaughn’s final message for the Children’s time before they left for Children’s Church during the 11 a.m. service was that it was not goodbye but rather “Shalom.”
She shared that in Israel, people said “shalom” instead of goodbye, which means “peace.”
“Peace until I see you again, if I get to see you again. Peace for them. Peace to go on the journey until we meet each other again, so they don’t ever say goodbye,” Vaughn said. “They just say shalom to each other, right? So, they grant the peace to you, and then you say shalom back to them and that brings the peace to you, right? So, today, I’m not going to say goodbye to you. I’m not saying goodbye. You know what I’m going to say? Shalom. I’m going to say it, and then you’re going to say back to me, okay, and we’re going to wish each other shalom.”
Vaughn added that she will likely run into the youth at summer camp or winter camp at Glen Lake Camp in Glen Rose.
The church’s youth director, Doreen Vasseur, shared that Vaughn definitely served a purpose for the church during her time in Copperas Cove.
“I believe God works in mysterious ways, and Kissa did what she needed to do, from building us up to repairing our church when it was in need, to us realizing that the church is not the building, it’s the people, and we can still do things even though the buildings torn up for over a year, and now that she did it, now she gets to feel good about what she did and accomplished in eight years and now move on,” Vasseur said.
Vasseur said that during her time as a member of Grace United Methodist Church, the church has gone through a total of now five pastors, which is something she had to get used to after joining the church.
“It’s difficult for me. You get to know them, and then they leave, but you can’t think of it that way. You have to think of it as growth for [Vaughn]. This is a really great opportunity for her,” Vasseur said. “I’m excited to see what God has in store, and it’s like [Vaughn] said, it’s not goodbye, it’s ‘Shalom’ because we know we’re going to run into them at camp or midwinters or you know, so it’s really exciting to see what God has planned for Grace and how we can grow.”
Church member Bob Crouch said that Vaughn helped renew and revitalize the church.
“It’s hard having Pastor Kissa leave. She was a renewal for our church when she came, and she brought a lot of great ideas and her strengths to us and became very, very close friends with my family personally,” Crouch said. “We’re grateful that she has this opportunity to go ahead and bless another church. We are excited about her replacement coming in because he’s going to be good, but it’s definitely going to leave a hole in our hearts and in our worship.”
The new pastor for Grace United Methodist Church is Rev. Brad Slaten, who is coming from King Memorial United Methodist Church in Whitney.
His first day at Grace United Methodist Church will be July 1, with July 3 being his first Sunday. The welcome reception for Slaten will be held the following Sunday, due to the July 4 holiday.
Vaughn served as Slaten’s mentor as he went through the ordination process, she said.
“I feel excited about what’s next,” Vaughn said. “We’ve been here eight years. We’ve gone through a lot, through a pandemic, a major remodel of the building, and I feel really just blessed.”