By: Dezaray Barr
Todd Whittum is the Assistant Pastor at Whiteford Wesleyan Church in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in January of 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education. After graduating, he completed his Wesleyan course of study program for Pre-Ordination in October 2000. He was ordained in July 2001 in the North Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church.
“As a senior in high school, I applied to a few colleges besides IWU,” Whittum said. “I was very into playing music, especially jazz. I really thought hard about going to a college that specialized in music. The more I prayed about it; however, I sensed that God wanted me to go to the college my parents both graduated from…Marion College (now IWU). Looking back at this decision, I believe that it was the right decision to make.”
After graduating from IWU, Whittum struggled to know what direction God was leading him in. He applied to many school districts, thinking he was going to teach music in a school setting. “However, after several interviews, nothing opened up in that direction,” he explained. “Then, in the fall of 1994, I landed my first music teaching job. My wife and I and our two boys packed up and moved to Michigan, where I started teaching in the Detroit area.”
Shortly after moving, Whittum and his wife visited a church (Dryden Wesleyan Church) she had grown up in. After talking to the senior pastor, they found out that the church was looking for a staff member to lead the youth and music ministries. “A couple weeks later, we were hired!” Whittum explained. “We stayed at Dryden for two years, but during that time, I really struggled with knowing God’s plan for our future. In the spring of 1996, my wife, Terry, and I had the privilege of attending John Maxell’s ‘Church Grow’ conference in Toledo, OH. While we were there, God spoke to us and confirmed to us that He truly did call us into full-time ministry. After that conference, I started taking classes towards being ordained in The Wesleyan Church, and we have been in full time ministry ever since.”
In 2007, Whittum and his family moved to Whiteford. Whiteford Wesleyan Church is located in southeast Michigan. “Our church is in a rural community. We’re a congregation of around 150 people that is committed to making more and better disciples. We do this through loving, growing and serving. One of the greatest ways that we try to serve our community is through partnering with our local school district. We have over 50 teachers or staff members that are being prayed for by families in our church. Our church also provides an after school program for Whiteford students who need a place to wait for their parents to get out of work. We have also recently partnered with other area churches to help feed Whiteford students that are considered homeless. Backpacks are put together each week to be sent home every Friday with these students to provide them with food for the weekend,” Whittum said.
It took Whittum five and a half years to graduate from college, but, he said, “all the effort, and hard work was worth it. Don’t give up, even when it gets tough. Look to God for your help!”
Whittum said that one of his greatest joys in ministry is being able to work with his wife and children. “My wife and I have served together in many ministry areas over the years, including music, youth and children’s ministries. It has been a joy to see all of our children involved in different ministries as well. Three out of our four children are married and live close by us. Our youngest is a college student in Nashville, TN. We also have two grandchildren that we have so much fun being with (and one that will be born very soon!). We are so blessed to have such a great family.”
Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication, Journalism and Honors Humanities triple major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.