Pulpit Updates

Check back over the next few weeks as we get to know the Newsom family better, learn more about Les and hear about the decision making process that led to his nomination from our Pulpit Nominating Committee.


background written by Ginger Newsom

I was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. I went to Jackson Academy and graduated in 1988. While there, I was involved in different activities and sports… cheerleading, student government, basketball, track. I guess I was trying to be like my big brothers, Reed and Sam, who are four and five years older than I am. My Mom and Dad were married for 53 years, and we were members of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Jackson where my Dad was an elder. Sadly he passed away five years ago.

I loved my six years at Ole miss as a student. After earning my Masters in Math, I got a job at the University of Memphis and started teaching. Not long after I started there, I met Les, who had just arrived on campus to start RUF. We married two years later and after another three years, we moved to Oxford! I was seven months pregnant with Anna Grace when we got to town.

We have loved our time in Oxford and we never want to leave!!! As most of you already know, we have three children. Anna Grace (18 and a Senior at OHS), loves photography and is one of the co-editors of the yearbook. Caroline (17 and a Junior at OHS), enjoys being involved with theater. She also is working with the journalism department this year and is co-anchoring (along with CPC’s Andrew Gardner) an OHS news show called “The Snooze”. Last but not least, Luke (13 and in the 7th grade at OMS), is also enjoying being involved in Theater. Presently, he is practicing every day for their upcoming musical “Hairspray”. Our children have been the greatest blessing to Les and me. We can’t wait for you all to get to know them.

After a 13 year break, I went back to work at the University, teaching in the Math Department. It has been a great job to have! I have loved being back on campus. Since Anna Grace plans to attend Ole miss in the Fall, hopefully I will see her around campus and maybe even teach some of her new friends!


q&a – Whitney Reese & Ginger Newsom

Q1: We read last week that Les was not so athletically inclined. What sports do you love? Did you play on any teams growing up?
Ginger: I love most all sports! In high school, I tried to be involved in as many sports as I could. Here at Ole Miss, I played every intramural sport I could! But… my love is basketball! I played all through middle and high school, and on intramural teams while at Ole miss. Sadly, I don’t ever get to play anymore. I wish so much that Oxford had a great church league for women!!!!

Q2: How do you like to spend your downtime?
Ginger: Hmmmmm…. I wish I had something fun and exciting to tell y’all, but I guess I spend my downtime sleeping or watching a good movie! I wish I was more of a reader, but I’m just not! I need a good hobby!

Q3: We learned from your background that you work on campus. What do you love about being a part of the University? What do you love about working with college students?
Ginger: Les and I worked with college students for 17 years before he became an area coordinator 7 years ago and started traveling. When Les stopped working as the Ole Miss campus minister, I was really sad! Sometimes I think the transition to his new job was harder for me, and that was because I LOVED having students in our home! I’m not a great cook, but students are happy with slice-n-bake and just being in a home! So that’s when Les and I started having CPC’s youth fellowship at our house, and that has been great! But 5 years ago, it was time for me to go back to work and thankfully, with the help of Lisa Ewell, I got a job at Ole miss where I had first taught in graduate school 18 years earlier. I have loved being back on Campus. I teach a lot of freshmen, and sometimes I feel like they need not only a good teacher, but someone to greet them with a smile and help make them a little less nervous. Most of my students are away from home for the first time, and Ole Miss can be very intimidating. My hope is that they will feel like they can come talk to me and that I truly want them to succeed.

Q4: What is your least favorite household chore?
Ginger: Scrubbing our shower! And I hardly ever do it! But Les found an attachment for his cordless drill that attaches a brush and that has made it a lot better (mainly because Les thinks it’s so great, that he’ll clean the shower for me!)

Q5: What is Les’s least favorite household chore?
Ginger: 100% Cleaning dishes!

Q6: We read last week more about Les’s time with RUF. How did you support the RUF ministry during Les’s time on staff? How do you think your support will change as he steps into his new role at CPC?
Ginger: My main role as an RUF campus minister’s wife was to support Les! RUF has always tried to stress to the wives that the best thing they can do is to give their husband a place that he loves to come home to… a soft place to land. I have always tried to do that! In addition, we had students in our home all of the time. That was probably a little easier to do with college students because they would just show up any time to come visit. Honestly, I am not sure exactly what my role will look like with this new job. Les and I genuinely like to be around people. We are excited about getting to know the members of Christ Pres better and hanging out with you all more! And as always, I hope I can continue to be a support for Les and the members of CPC.

Q7: What are some of your “go to” parenting tips for those moms out there with elementary aged children?
Ginger: Keep a box of poptarts either by your bed or somewhere low in the pantry so when your kids wake you up super early, you can either give them one or send them to the pantry to keep them happy until you can get going!

Q8: How many years have you & Les been married? In that time, what would you say has changed most about him? What has changed most about you?
Ginger: We will have been married this summer for 22 years! Not much has changed about Lester (maybe his hair color!) and for me, I’m not sure. Definitely being out of shape and feeling like my body is old!

Q9: What are some of your families most loved meals?
Ginger: Well, Les eats almost anything! Luke loves chicken tenders and fries (we all love that!). My girls love mac-n-cheese, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, poppyseed chicken with rice (just good ol’ starches!).

Random Questions of the Week:

We know the Newsoms love Newks. What is your personal favorite restaurant in Oxford?
Ginger: Boure! South Depot Taco Shop and Ajax too.

If Les had a warning label, what would it say?
Ginger: “Caution… will show extreme road rage to those who don’t know how to maneuver round-abouts”

If a bicyclist can drive down a one-mile hill three times as fast as she can ride back up the hill, and the round trip takes 20 minutes, how fast does she drive down the hill in miles per hour?
Ginger: Oooooh, no fun! Nobody wants to work a word problem, even me!!!!

Pulpit Updates

Check back over the next few weeks as we get to know the Newsom family better, learn more about Les and hear about the decision making process that led to his nomination from our Pulpit Nominating Committee.


q&a – Whitney Reese & Les Newsom

Q1: Inquiring minds want to know… is Les short for Lester?
Les: That’s correct. Named for my great-grandfather, William Lester Carnal, my father’s grandfather on his mother’s side.

Q2: How has Area Coordinator for RUF prepared you to lead CPC?
Les: The last seven years have been spent doing lots of counseling and pastoring marriages & children. I’ve also walked some campus ministers (including my wife and me) through the loss of parents. In addition, I did my fair share of administrative work throughout: preparing budgets, writing protocols, raising money, etc. We’ll see how helpful that experience has been.

Q3: What particularly excites you about your new role at CPC?  What makes you a little nervous?
Les: What excites me the most is what I think draws our church family into our fellowship: the people. Though I’ve been with the church since 1999, my relationships in the church, aside from a small circle, have been somewhat limited. I’m most excited to hear the stories of those I’ve worshipped with, up close.

Everything makes me nervous about it. I’ve never been the pastor of a church so there’ll be a steep learning curve that I’m hoping the congregation is patient with me through.

Q4: Do you know there’s a squirrel that lives in the gym?
Les: I assume he’s been hiding from Curt’s famous “Squirrel Head” soup all these years?

Q5: What will be one thing you will miss about working for RUF?  What is one thing you won’t miss?
Les: That’s an emotional question for me since I have come to believe that RUF is as important a movement from within our denomination as exists. RUF Campus Ministers are some of the most gifted, sincere, energetic men that I have ever known. They are my relational network and I will miss them most of all.

But I have spent the better part of the last seven years traveling 35K miles per year in my car to go see these men and their ministries. Won’t miss that travel.

Q6: Do you, too, plan to grow a “winter beard” every December?
Les: Not manly enough.
Perfectly OK with that fact.

Q7: Compare getting to know college students to congregants at CPC.
Les: College students are in perpetual crisis mode. So many decisions that will set the pattern of life for people are set in college (marriage, career, personality, etc.) And while I know that life is almost always a perpetual crisis experience (I know my adult life is), I look forward to getting to know people over a long period of time and seeing how God’s Providence has moved them and shaped them into what He wants them to be.

Q8: Outside of your involvement with the RUF organization, are there any other organizations or groups you have been involved with over the years (e.g. greek fraternity, chess club, philanthropic group, sports team, etc.) between high school and now?
Les: I was on the football team when I was in high school. I choose my words carefully…I was ON the football team. I didn’t say I “played football.” Beyond that, I was on numerous speech teams in high school and college in addition to the worship and skit teams that I was on at the church I worked for during college. Such is my youth ministry background.

Q9: What are some of your favorite ways to spend your down time?
Les: Music has to be at the top of that list. My idea of a great evening is to slip on my Bose noise cancelling headphones and flip through my Apple Music subscription in search of new music. My tastes are as varied as they get. My kids are a constant and wonderful source of great new music.

Q10: If Curt loves “grabbing a biscuit,” what is your go-to meeting place?
Les: Newk’s. No question. Manager Cody has become a good friend and knows my order as I walk in the door. That said, I would LOVE to see a coffee shop go up near the new church.

Q11: New Building Process: What are some of your hopes, fears & dreams as we head towards our new building on Sisk Avenue?
Les: My hope is that we don’t limit our vision for that facility. God spent lots of time in Exodus outlining the lavishness with which the people of God should adorn his “meeting place” (re: tabernacle). While that vision always has to be combined with healthy and wise stewardship over resources, it should never eclipse our desire to build something that will last well in to the next decades as a “home and a hope” to Oxford.

Q12: You’ve got a lot of teenagers in the house. Do you have any “words of wisdom” for parents or grandparents of teenagers? Of young kids?
Les: The inertia in my heart (which I believe to be sinful) is to treat my children like “objects” to be manipulated, be formed, be pushed, etc. In my best moments, I want to treat my children like “subjects” instead, people worth knowing, to be studied and pursued for relationship. My heart pulls me to anxiety and fear in parenting when all the while, I just want to know what makes them tick and search for ways to share the joy that the Gospel has brought to their mother and me.

Lightening Round Questions (shamelessly stole from the internet):

  • Texting or talking? Texting…sorry Curt.
  • What’s the fastest speed you’ve ever driven in a car? [furiously scrambles to look up his Miranda Rights]
  • Favorite day of the week? What preacher wouldn’t say Sunday? But seriously, my family usually heads home, puts our pj’s back on and does something together as family. Love those days.
  • If Voldemort offered you a hug, would you accept? Voldemort? Sorry, I’m a Lord of the Rings guy. Should have asked about Sauron. Wouldn’t have hugged him at all.
  • What’s your ideal outside temperature? 78. I’m a warm weather person. I endure the cold waiting for sunny days – might even be seasonally disaffected.
  • When people stand up for a standing ovation, are you usually one of the earlier people to stand up or one of the later? I quote Jerry Seinfeld when a standing O starts: “So…are we doing this now?”
  • What age where you when you got your first cell phone? 33? I was the cool kid on the block. [nose grows]

Random Questions of the Week

Each week you will find answers to a few random (and sometimes silly) questions that Les and those closest to him have been asked to give us a little more insight into him.

What book do you recommend the most (besides the Bible) to read?
Les: Three way tie: first, God’s Way Of Peace by Horatius Bonar (if you want to understand my fundamental approach to ministry, read the last 3 chapters of that book). Second, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied by John Murray (the first time I understood my salvation). Third, The Letters of John Newton (Banner of Truth Edition only) (been feeling my soul for years and years).

When was the last time you stayed up past 4 in the morning?
Les: Youth group “lock ins” when I was in college. I led an effort my senior year in college to discontinue the practice of those things. Positively destructive. I have a love/hate relationship (re: insomniac) with sleep and it’s very precious to me.

Not a question, but name one bucket list item you haven’t marked off.
Les: There’s a small island to the north of the British Virgin Islands called Anegada. On the north side of the island, there’s a rental house called Lavenda Breeze. I want to spend a week there with no contact with the outside world.

Pulpit Updates

Check back over the next six weeks as we get to know the Newsom family better, learn more about Les and hear about the decision making process that led to his nomination from our Pulpit Nominating Committee.

Week 1: Les’ Background

written by Les Newsom

I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee. I stayed home to attend college at Memphis State University and worked with the youth group at my church. I left Memphis in the summer of 1991 to attend Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. I loved every waking minute of graduate school.

While I was there, I met a lot of people involved in a ministry I had never heard of called “Reformed University Fellowship”. The more time I spent around them the more I wanted to work with them, so after graduating in 1994 from RTS with a Masters of Divinity I headed back to Memphis.

In the summer of 1994, I returned to Memphis State University to start their RUF ministry. That fall, there was a cute young math teacher who kept coming to the cafeteria to hang out with the students and me. Ginger and I were engaged by September of 1995 and married in June of 1996.

In 1999 Ginger (who was pregnant with Anna Grace at the time) and I moved to Oxford, Mississippi, to become the RUF campus minister at Ole Miss. Caroline, my second daughter, came along in January of 2001 and Luke showed up in the summer of 2004.

My 12 years as campus minister at Ole Miss were some of the busiest, craziest, most rewarding, and often heartbreaking years of my entire life. We came to know thousands of students in our 17 years on campus and loved every second of it. However, in 2011 RUF National asked me to take the position of area coordinator for Alabama, Mississippi, West Tennessee, and Arkansas.

For seven years I have put approximately 35,000 miles per year on my car as I traveled to the various campuses in my region. During that time I was able to get to know many young ministers and pastor their families through transition, fundraising, and pastoral development.


Random Questions of the Week

Each week you will find answers to a few random (and sometimes silly) questions that Les and those closest to him have been asked to give us a little more insight into him.

If you could learn anything in a day what would it be?
Les: Honestly, one of the things that drew me to this job was the chance to study to prepare lessons again. I consider it a fantastic day if I have learned one more way in which every place the scripture points to Jesus. Mining the Bible for those insights is the greatest privilege and joy of of any preacher. I know that sounds like a Sunday school answer, but I kinda mean it.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Les: Honestly, not much. My mother will tell you that as a child all I ever wanted to be was a grown-up. My parents were lay leaders in our church for the college department, so I have never known a time when I did not have college students in my home. That influence made me wish that I was older. I couldn’t imagine serving at a church that wasn’t in a college town. They have been my anchor for my entire life.

How would your closest friends answer this question: What makes Les laugh the most?
Les: People falling down. I raised my children on America’s Funniest Home Videos and most of the loudest laughter can be heard while watching episodes of that show. That said, it doesn’t take much to make me laugh, mostly due to the dialogue going on inside my head I would rarely share with anyone out loud.

Pulpit Announcement

Pulpit Committee Nomination

Our Pulpit Nominating Committee announced the committee’s decision to nominate Reverend Les Newsom to serve as the next Lead Pastor for Christ Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. CPC’s Session unanimously concurred in the Committee’s nomination. Below are letters to the congregation released by each group regarding the announcement.

Announcement from the Pulpit Nominating Committee

Letter from the CPC Session

Please save the dates for these upcoming Sundays:

  • February 11th: Congregational Meeting immediately following the morning worship service. The congregation will hear from the Pulpit Committee about how they came to their nomination.
  • February 18th: Les will preach as our “candidate” and there will be a reception following.
  • February 25th: Congregational Meeting immediately following the morning worship service. The congregation will vote on the nomination of Les to be our next Lead Pastor.