Over the last year or so, we have been working our way through a number of RTS Charlotte alumni in the Where Are They Now? series. For the complete series, see here.
Not only is it a joy to watch seminary students graduate and head out into ministry, it is also a joy when they return to do ministry in the city of Charlotte. On such occasions, we are able to witness their ministries firsthand as they labor in our very own city.
Such is the case with Mantle Nance (class of 2010). This past year, Mantle has returned to Charlotte to take the pastorate of Ballantyne Presbyterian Church, an important ARP congregation in the city of Charlotte.
In addition, Mantle really exemplifies the model of Pastor-Scholar. A Pastor-Scholar is someone who serves in ordained ministry but is also pursuing scholarly studies in a more sustained manner (see prior post here). Mantle is working on his Ph.D. through Highland College and the University of Aberdeen.
1. What are you currently doing?
I am the Senior Minister at Ballantyne Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. I am also working on a PhD in historical theology from the University of Aberdeen through Highland Theological College. The working title of my thesis is “The Adorable Trinity: The Trinitarianism of Old Columbia Seminary (1828-1927).”
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
When I was a senior at Furman University, I took a South Carolina History class in which I wrote a research paper on a Presbyterian minister named John Lafayette Girardeau and his ministry to the slaves in antebellum Charleston. My research led me to a book titled Preachers with Power: Four Stalwarts of the South by Dr. Douglas Kelly. Over subsequent years, I was richly blessed by reading other works by Dr. Kelly and listening to his sermons. Then, in God’s providence, I got to know Dr. Kelly through the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, where I discovered that I am distantly related to Dr. Kelly by marriage on my mother’s side of the family! Thus, my primary motivation for coming to RTS-Charlotte was to study with Dr. Kelly. It also meant I would be close to extended family (I am from Elkin, NC).
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
I was privileged to serve as Dr. John Oliver’s TA, and one of the many Dr. Oliver phrases that stuck with me is the “primacy of preaching.” There are a lot of expectations that people (both within and without the church) can place on a minister, so maintaining the “primacy of preaching” is essential for the health of a church (and the sanity of the minister!).
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
Along with the joys of being a Minister of Word and Sacrament (with our Associate Minister Alan Gay, a fellow RTS-C alumnus), I most enjoy the refreshing fellowship of the saints at Ballantyne.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
On more than one occasion my wife has reminded me of a quote by another pastor’s wife, Ruth Bell Graham. Mrs. Graham said that to be successful in ministry you need to “pray for a tough hide and a tender heart.” Looking back, I see many times in ministry where, to my shame, I’ve had a tender hide and a tough heart — where I have been too sensitive about what others thought or said about me and, largely because of that, not sensitive enough to real needs that others were facing. Having a tender hide drains my energy (for the Lord, my family, and the church) and is completely counter-productive; having a tough heart is completely un-Christlike! So, by God’s grace, I’m learning, more and more each day, my need to “pray for a tough hide and a tender heart,” for that is a combination only the Spirit of Jesus can create.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
Don’t waste it! It is often tempting to focus on the end goal of having a degree and being ordained, but the proc
1) Attend the prayer meeting Dr. Kelly hosts in his office each week. This was one of the highlights for me. Many of the guys who attended this when I was a student continue to share prayer requests with one another and pray for each other’s ministries, etc. 2) Get plugged in to a local church where you can be refreshed by the Lord’s people and the means of grace and where you can also be an encouragement to the saints. Being a faithful church member is an essential compliment to your seminary studies, and it is a prerequisite for being a faithful minister.