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More than a sum of the parts
New Rock Wesleyan couple serve through small groups, many activities
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Odell and Leah Caldwell have spent a lifetime of ministering to others out of their overflowing love for Christ. They have worked tirelessly, endured hardships and continue to make themselves available for any task in their golden years — whether it is cleaning the church or supporting events.

The couple has consistently been first on the scene with a covered dish, a word of encouragement and a hand-up to those in need. Givers in every sense of the word, they have supported the church with tithes and offerings, helped church family with financial needs, counseled with friends at the kitchen table over a cup of coffee and loaned their car for emergency trips. They have served on several mission projects to the Dominican Republic.

Members of New Rock Wesleyan Church, Odell and Leah taught Sunday school and Leah served on the church board. Since a young age, she has shared her musical talents in piano, organ, clarinet and Vibra-Harp within the church. Prior to coming to New Rock, they taught and served in various leadership roles. Currently, they host weekly Bible study and small group activities in their home.

"I enjoyed all the things we got to do," said Odell. "It made us grow and it put something in our hearts to encourage us to go the second and third mile."

Born in Greene County, Odell graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University and served as principal for thirty years at Glen Haven Elementary School in DeKalb County.

Leah was born in Effingham, Ill., and attended Southern Illinois University. The daughter of a minister, she learned about loving and helping others by her parent’s example.

"I’m concerned about the attitude I see in churches today," said Leah. "In our home, it was assumed that we would go to church — there was no thought otherwise.

People are so busy that they feel like they can just serve God when they want to. We need to be drawing closer to Jesus because he is coming soon."

An avid student of the Bible, Odell models the importance of staying in God’s word every day. Leah encourages families to eat meals together and to recognize the significance of keeping God as the center of the home. They believe the best way for a church to grow is by word of mouth and friendship.

"They are wonderful people who know how to pray and support their pastor," said the Rev. Rick Shockley, pastor of New Rock Wesleyan Church since February 2008. "I believe that they know how to intercede in prayer for people and their needs and I would not hesitate to call on them at any moment for a prayer need. They are very faithful to New Rock Church and are faithful servants for the church and the community."

Leah and Odell met in church after they both experienced a painful divorce. Leah spoke of how she held on to Ephesians 6:11, "Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (KJV). There were mornings when she would visualize putting on the armor to help her get through the day.

"Our kids prayed us to get married," said Leah smiling. "We were married in 1992 and together we have six children, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren."

Leah’s favorite hobby is oil painting and she and Odell travel across the county in their motor home.

The Caldwells want everyone to know that New Rock Wesleyan Church is a group of friendly, loving people who want to reach out to the community with the love of Christ. The church’s motto is to connect people to God by experiencing grace, growing in love and promoting unity.

"Leah and Odell are great people," said former pastor, the Rev. Joe Neyman who served from 1993 to 2003. "When they started attending New Rock, our attendance was low and they were a source of inspiration and encouragement—a God-send to the church."

New Rock Church is a multi-cultural church and offers blended worship music and a variety of ministry programs, including a children’s ministry called KIDMO. Sunday morning worship begins at 10:30 a.m. and midweek services are held on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. for a small group Bible study. The community is invited to a trunk ’n treat free kid’s festival planned for Saturday, October 25 at the church located at 3790 Highway 138 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more information, call Pastor Rick Shockley at (770) 679-1266.