For much of his life, the Rev. Elmer Neal Davis Jr. has gone down paths that others might not have taken.
“It’s like Robert Frost said, two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled,” Davis said.
That less-traveled road has brought Davis from his hometown of Salisbury, Md., to Dover, where July 1 he became the pastor of the Whatcoat United Methodist Church on Saulsbury Road.
His path to the pulpit began in September 1967, when his father, a U.S. Army soldier, died in Vietnam. Fatherless but guided by his mother’s strong hand, Davis grew up determined to succeed.
Unlike his three older brothers, who became Maryland state troopers, Davis joined the Salisbury Police Department, rising over 22 years to the rank of lieutenant. It was there he found his later calling.
“I was searching for something different,” Davis said. He received his first pastoral appointment in 1998, while still on the police force. He also ministered to others in the department.
“It was good because they had someone to talk to who could relate to their situation through a spiritual venue.”
After earning a master’s degree in divinity, Davis took up the cloth full time in 2009.
Q Churches have many callings other than the spiritual. What do you see as Whatcoat’s mission?
A Whatcoat is the servant church in the community. We are committed to enhancing the quality of life of each person we come in contact with, whether they are church members or not.
Q How can the church help the people of Dover address problems in the community?
A I think of it as PRIDE: P-Working in partnerships. R-Building respect for each other. I-Integrity, we must have integrity in all that we do. D-Dedication, we must be dedicated to whatever task we do. E-Empowerment, empowering people to desire something new, something to enhance their quality of life.
Q How do you summarize that?
A We should have pride in everything we do. As the pastor at Whatcoat, I have pride in what God has sent me here to do. I want everyone to know that I’m here, that I want to make a difference in the community, and that I want to be a blessing to each person I come in contact with.