03/31/2023
Spread the love

By Sonny Jones

Matt Thorley felt God’s calling to join the ministry at an early age, admittedly tried to run away from it for a time, and now has “gone all in” to accept the role.

The 28-year-old western North Carolina native became the senior pastor for Elizabethtown’s Trinity Methodist Church on Feb. 1.

“I have been overjoyed with the excitement and the spirit that Trinity has,” Thorley said. “I was kind of worried when I interviewed for this position that I would have to get the people to match my excitement. Now that I’m here, I’m having a hard time matching their excitement.

“I’ve been truly humbled and blessed by the spirit that goes through the congregation. It’s an amazing place with amazing people.”

Trinity’s history and tradition also is an area that has caught Thorley’s attention, both in the current building at 901 West Broad St. that was dedicated in 1954 and old Trinity Church that was built about 1848 and still stands a couple miles down the road.

“There’s just a tradition that Trinity holds,” Thorley said. “Just walking in (to old Trinity) is a different feel. There’s just so much history and so much love wrapped up in that building. It’s really great to be a part of the Trinity Methodist Church family and be a part of that history.”

The church is holding weekly Lenten services inside old Trinity Church and the Easter sunrise service is scheduled there, Thorley said.

As for Thorley’s plans for Trinity under his guidance, he wants to continue to serve the community.

“I want to keep going with the momentum that we have,” he said. “I want to see us really reach out to our community, be an active and vital part in Elizabethtown and Bladen County, which, I know that they have a history of doing, but kind of get back to that. (I want to) see the church continue to grow in that love and that Christian unity. That’s what I’m hoping for the next five, 10 or 50 years.”

Thorley’s story from growing up in the church while living with his family in Murphy to leading a church in Bladen County can be described as amazing as well. In between, he served in the Marines, met his wife, Corbin, who also was a Marine, lived in Japan and on both coasts of the United States, and worked for a couple of years at Fayetteville’s First Presbyterian Church. The Thorleys have two children, 10-year-old Caedan and four-year-old Lisa.

“I felt my call to the ministry at a very young age and have been working towards that ever since,” Thorley said.

He recalls as a youngster telling his mother that he felt a calling to the ministry. She wasn’t surprised. “I thought it was a big deal,” Thorley said. “My mom said ‘I know you’re going to go into ministry.'”

Thorley was attending a summer youth retreat in Panama City, Florida as a young teenager when he truly felt the Lord’s call. He watched his younger brother wrestle with the decision before receiving Christ. The next night, Thorley spoke with one of the worship leaders. “I felt something in my heart at that time,” he said and told the man that he wanted to get into the ministry.

There were some challenges along the way during high school and while serving in the Marines, Thorley admits. “I would always try to run from it,” he said. “When I felt pulled in another direction, God always put someone or something in my life that put me back on track.”

Thorley received his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from Regent University in Virginia and his Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in California.