EARLVILLE – In 2008, Earlville’s First Baptist Church found itself in need of an interim pastor. Jeremy Stopford, a Norwich resident and former pastor of the Beaver Meadow Christian Church, agreed to fill in until a full-time pastor was found. But after spending several Sundays working together, the congregation and the pastor decided to make the arrangement permanent.
Stopford, originally from New Rochelle and later Fort Lauderdale, first set out on his religious path while he was attending St. Lawrence College. “There I met Pastor Herman Underwood of the First Baptist Church of Canton,” Stopford said. As a brand new Christian, Stopford said it was Pastor Underwood who took him under his wing.
After his first year at St. Lawrence, Stopford made a big decision. After consulting with his parents, he decided to transfer to a college Underwood was familiar with in Canada: Seaway Baptist Bible Institute. “There I met a young girl from Norwich. We were married a year later,” Stopford said of his wife, Thuvia.
After college, the Stopfords moved back to Norwich, where Jeremy worked as a welder for 7 years before he took a civil service exam to become employed with the Norwich Police Department. From 1983 until the present, Stopford has worked as a dog control and parking enforcement officer with the department.