There are a fair amount of “nevers” in James Mooneyhan’s life.
He never thought he would go to college. He never thought he would voluntarily repeat the twelfth grade to pull his core grade point average up from a D to a B. And he certainly never thought he would spend his life in the ministry.
But Reinhardt changed all that….
“I thought I’d spend my life working in the paper mill in Jacksonville, FL, like my Dad had done. I lived in a blue collar community and that’s what everyone did,” he said in a moment of reflection.
A call to the ministry changed all that and, for many lives along his future path, the world was a better place.
That’s what Reinhardt does best — leaving the world a better place. There are few examples as good as James Mooneyhan, a soft-spoken minister who followed God’s calling made possible by Reinhardt’s sensitivity to that call.
That future paper mill career was derailed when the young Mooneyhan learned that a call to the ministry required additional education than he had planned as a paper mill worker. Additional study like a college degree and then advanced degrees.
Unfortunately, very good grades for college admittance was the first stumbling block which threatened to close the door on that calling. College rejection letters were common.
But things changed when the new pastor at his Jacksonville church suggested he needed to go to Waleska — which Mooneyhan misunderstood as Alaska. Once that misunderstanding was cleared up the course was set.
Reinhardt administrators, specifically Dr. J. R. Burgess, President and Dr. Clyde Collins, Dean, agreed to bend the rules on admitting someone with such a low GPA. The sole condition was that he would need to repeat high school history, math, and English and maintain a B average. And only then would he be admitted for a trial semester during which he would need to maintain that average.
Much to the surprise of the administrators the determined young man, committed to his calling from God, returned within months from an accelerated adult high school curriculum program with an A, B, and a C on his grade card — a perfect B average. Those administrators were pleased, if stunned.
Mooneyhan enrolled at Reinhardt, applied himself and received his two-year degree while meeting Jo Poore, the woman he would soon marry. The next year they were married as juniors at Piedmont College which would award him his bachelor’s degree two years later. Then he was off to Emory University’s Candler School of Theology for his master’s degree and then to the University of Chicago for his doctorate in theology.
Eventually their four children would attend Reinhardt.
Today he is the only one of five boys in his family to graduate from college, much less hold a doctorate. And he serves as a trustee of that little college in Waleska who saw the potential hope of the impacting the Kingdom in that teenager’s eyes.
Within a few years as he approaches the age of 72 he will be retiring as a pastor in the United Methodist Church.
As he reflects over his life and the blessings he has been given through serving others he is filled with gratitude to God and the confidence He saw in that young man who saw himself content to work in the paper mill.
And then he adds two others to the list.
“If it were not for Reinhardt I would not be in the ministry today, and if it were not for my wife I would not have succeeded in that ministry.”