OGDEN -- New Zion Baptist Church already has proven to be a place of genuinely friendly people.
But now with a new pastor, it's becoming a place of fun and laughter too.
"We are learning how to laugh, becoming more relaxed," said the Rev. Carey E. McCall III, the new pastor at New Zion.
McCall arrived at New Zion in November but will officially be installed Sunday in a public ceremony to which a number of local officials have been invited.
The community is welcome to attend McCall's installation services at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the church, 2935 Lincoln Ave. in Ogden.
"Traditionally the black Baptist Church is very stoic, very traditional," McCall said. "We've interwoven the fact that you can have laughter. You can be yourself."
McCall said he loves the fact that the 300 members at his church are open and embracing.
Now, he's working on adding some fun to the church's practices too, following the changing traditions that McCall said have been incorporated with a charismatic movement in the church.
One change he brought was a church Super Bowl party.
McCall said he'll also enjoy reaching out to the community in the same way the community has reached out to him since he arrived.
"I had a preconceived notion that it would be very different here," he said. "I came during your winter. I was so surprised that people would be so helpful."
He said the generosity of the community has helped his family embrace Ogden.
"I'm excited about being here," he said. "My family is excited about being here."
McCall is married to Phyllis, and the two have a son, 15, and a daughter, 12.
The family has two dogs, a bichon and poodle mix, and a Lhasapoo.
Besides his family, McCall said the members of his congregation want to reach out where they can.
"At the end of the day, don't we have to co-exist?" he said. "This planet is meant to be shared."
And he said the story of his arrival should not be solely about him.
"It's about the people of God at New Zion Baptist," he said. "I don't want to take any glory from God. If the church hadn't called me here, I wouldn't be able to do anything here."
The new pastor works to promote his life phrase: "He is a work in progress and a story that has yet to be written."
A key Scripture he uses to guide his work is John 15:5: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing."
McCall's qualifications include a bachelor of arts degree in business administration and accounting from William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., which led him to enjoy a career at Patent Construction Systems Corporate Division in Paramus, N.J.
His foundational training in the ministry was from Mount Olive Baptist Church in Hackensack, N.J. Often, he would lead worship services at that church.
In 1994, McCall became a minister in training at Community Baptist Church of Englewood, N.J.
He soon enrolled in the New York School of the Bible. He was licensed to the gospel ministry on May 25, 1995, at Community Baptist Church.
McCall graduated with a master of divinity degree from the New York Theological Seminary in May 2002.
He became pastor of Saint Paul Baptist Church of Passaic, N.J., in March 2001 until he accepted his calling to New Zion Baptist Church in Ogden.
McCall wants to invite the community to worship with him and hopes everyone feels welcome in his new church.
Regular services at New Zion Baptist Church are at 11 a.m Sundays.
Bible studies are held at noon Wednesdays. At 7 p.m. Wednesdays are study sessions and prayer services.
For information about New Zion Baptist Church, call the church office at 801-392-2211.