"We like a challenge," said Rev. Dennis Owens about himself and his wife, Jody.
They will soon leave Morenci's Church of the Nazarene to work with a church in a much larger community but with a much smaller congregation. The challenge to build a stronger church awaits.
Rev. Owens will preach his final sermon in Morenci on Sunday and present his first service in Canton, Ill., on Jan. 26. The city is located about 40 miles west of Peoria.
"Canton has a population of about 15,000 but the congregation is about half the size of this one," he said.
The church has been without a permanent pastor since last winter.
Rev. Owens said he and his wife will leave Morenci satisfied with what they accomplished here in the past eight and a half years.
"We wanted to build a church that involved the community and I feel very good about that," he said. "We're participants in the community."
Rev. Owens took that charge personally, also, serving as Morenci's volleyball coach and taking an active role in the Kiwanis Club.
"It's tough for us to leave not only the church but the entire community," he said. "We're finding it difficult to say good-bye. We want people to know how grateful we are with how we were welcomed and supported."
A characteristic of Morenci that will stick with the couple is its generosity.
"One of the things that struck us about this town is how generous the community is," Rev. Owens said. "We have loved that about Morenci. It's a really positive thing."