Ritter answers calling
by The Press and Standard | July 20, 2018 9:00 am
Last Updated: July 20, 2018 at 6:14 pm
RITTER NAMED PASTOR AT UMC IN HOLLY HILL. Justin Ritter was recently named pastor at Providence United Methodist Church in Holly Hill. From left are Joey Ritter, Pastor Justin Ritter, Melanie Ritter and Jarrett Ritter.
By CINDY CROSBY
Growing up, Justin Ritter never envisioned himself as a pastor. He always thought he’d be a pediatrician.
But as we know, life sometimes doesn’t lead us where we think it’s going to – for Ritter, a Colleton County Class of 2008 graduate, that was certainly the case.
“I felt God speaking to me at Lake Junaluska my senior year of high school,” said Ritter. “But, I pushed it aside to stay with my goal of pre-med. My freshman year at the College of Charleston was tough — I became sick and my mom, Melanie Ritter, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“With everything going on and things being rough, I became part of the College of Charleston United Methodist Campus Ministry,” said Ritter.
“The campus minister, Rev. Lisa Hawkins, helped me through it, but she also saw something in me — telling me I was going to become a minister. I told her no and we laughed about it.
“As it happened, I ended up preaching a sermon at Folly Beach United Methodist Church when our campus ministry took over a service,” said Ritter. “People responded to the message, and it was fated from there. I tested the waters when I worked at Bethel United Methodist Church and First Baptist in Walterboro during the summer program.
“As things continued to go well, I applied to only one seminary and got accepted with scholarships,” said Ritter.
“I think the funniest thing that happened during my journey was during my time in seminary. I worked at Emory University Hospital in mid-town Atlanta and oversaw the mother-baby unit. It was a random placement, but I felt as if things had come full circle with my hopes of being a pediatrician. I know this is what God is calling me to do.”
Recently named pastor of Providence United Methodist Church in Holly Hill, Ritter feels he is exactly where he is meant to be. He previously served two churches in McCormick — St. Paul and Republican United Methodist Church — and was a campus minister for Lander University in Greenwood.
“I love meeting people in their faith journey and helping them through their problems,” he said. “I believe that the world today needs to hear the message of love – and that is what I proclaim. I pray every day that God will continue to use me to proclaim this message to everyone I meet.”
Ritter, the son of Joey and Melanie Ritter of Walterboro, earned his undergraduate degree in biology from The College of Charleston and obtained his master of divinity in 2015 from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He plans to pursue ordination in two years.