Reverend John Cannon, Senior Pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, is our guest on Discover Lafayette.
A native of Shreveport, John graduated from the University of Arkansas and LSU Law School. While working as an Assistant District Attorney in East Baton Rouge, he began to discern a call to pastoral ministry that he had first experienced as a youth in the Episcopal Church. Following that call, John attended the Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri. Before joining Asbury as Senior Pastor, John served as the District Superintendent for the 74 churches of the Acadiana District of The United Methodist Church.
Cannon’s first appointment as a pastor was at Church of Our Savior in Junction City, Kansas. Located near U. S. Army Fort Riley, the congregation was multi-ethnic with about fifty members, most of whom were retired military. It was a simple time for Cannon and his wife, Erin, and the church provided a home for them to live in as he commuted twice a week for two hours to attend his theological classes in Kansas City.
Asbury UMC is one of the largest churches in Louisiana, with about 1000 active members attending services in any month. Cannon explained that even in large churches, it is important to maintain a “small church feel” so that people feel connected to one another. Large congregations have to work to create that feel; small groups such as Sunday School classes or adult and children ministries are important so that each individual member can connect with others and share their God-given gifts.
Cannon’s training in his first career as an appellate attorney has many similarities with his work as a pastor. He believes the best lawyers are storytellers and the best stories are the ones that make you think and bring you to a new place of understanding. Today as a pastor, Cannon is a collector of stories….odd, humorous and interesting stories of real people he finds in the news and saves in a manilla folder for use in his sermons. The congregation enjoys his humorous openings to sermons where the true, offbeat human story is woven into a relevant passage of scripture to more impactfully deliver the message. Cannon believes that is why Jesus used parables as he taught His messages so that the crowds could understand the teaching and relate them to everyday life. You could say that John Cannon makes his closing argument for God each and every week!
John Cannon is a collector of stories….odd, humorous and interesting stories of real people he finds in the news and saves in a manilla folder for use in his sermons as he weaves in a relevant passage of scripture to deliver an impactful message. You could say that John Cannon makes his closing argument for God each and every week!
Asbury draws a diverse crowd of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and is a place of acceptance for the LGBTQ community. Cannon is proud that the congregation models what it means to be a family, even when all members don’t agree on every societal issue, and stated, “At the end of the day, we love each other, support each other, and have each other’s back.” Ultimately, it’s all about love, the love that Jesus exemplified in His two great commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40.
Asbury has started a new church ministry in Youngsville and offers a service on the second Sunday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at Ascension High School. Led by Reverend Allison Sikes, the service is a casual, family experience that is a “Dinner Church model,” where attendants enjoy acoustic music and share conversations around the table. Cannon says you can just walk in dressed in shorts and t-shirt. *Please note that all services offered by Asbury have been suspended in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Asbury offers a service in Youngsville on the 2nd Sunday of each month at Ascension High School, led by Rev. Allison Sikes. It is a “Dinner Church Model” where attendants enjoy acoustic music, share conversations around the dinner table, and can just show up in their shorts and t-shirt. https://www.asburylafayette.org/youngsville/
Taped in March 2020, our interview with Rev. Cannon served as a reminder that Lent is a time for preparation for the celebration of Easter. Patterned after Jesus’s 40 days and nights fasting in the wilderness, 40 days in the wilderness for the Jews, and many other biblical sojourns involving 40 days, Lent is not necessarily about giving up things but about learning new lessons. “Fasting is a way to grow gratitude”, says Cannon, “to take the time to stop and be grateful for what you have.” He counsels that this is a time to live more simply and adopt new habits and practices that draw you closer to God. As a time for encouraging a deeper prayer life, Lent can be your teacher as to how to live the rest of the year as you draw closer to God.
We thank Reverend John Cannon for his contributions to our faith community. For more information on Asbury United Methodist Church, its worship services and ministries, please visit https://www.asburylafayette.org/