Pastor Jim Ullian and his wife, Maureen

Jim Ullian, Interim Pastor

James Ullian, my Facebook page says that I am “a sinner being saved by God’s grace and a servant called to follow Jesus.” 

Growing up on Long Island, NY, my family was not religious. In fact, church and faith was foreign to me. I enlisted in the US Coast Guard out of high school. After basic training in the USCG reserve, I went off to Marshall University. While a student at Marshall University where I completed my undergraduate degree in Journalism and Speech, I came into a relationship with Christ. About a year later, I felt God calling me into ministry and through the mentoring of a caring pastor chose to attend Asbury Theological Seminary.

While in seminary, I received a reserve commission as a line officer in the Coast Guard. I remained in the reserves until I retired as a Commander in 1998. After serving churches for 11 years in the West Virginia Conference and 22 years in the Virginia Conference, I retired from full time ministry in 2009.

I also worked towards an Ed. D. in Counseling Psychology at West Virginia University, although I stopped short of completing the degree. While still in the US Coast Guard Reserve, I attended and graduated from the US Naval War College, College of Command and Staff, Newport, Rhode Island.

In 2009, I took on a retirement career and after graduating from the VB Sheriff’s Office academy, served as a deputy sheriff in VB. After just, over 5 years, I decided I to retire and find some diversions.

Throughout the years, I considered volunteering in my community a way to move out of the four walls of the church and contribute to the community and bear witness to my faith. I have been a volunteer firefighter, a soccer coach, home room father for my children’s elementary school, and an organizer for a high school swim team. In one community, I served as chaplain for a regional hospice.

After retiring from the Coast Guard, I got involved as a chaplain with the VB police department, chaplain for the Secret Service, and for the past 18 years or so I have served as a chaplain with Law Enforcement United, an organization dedicated to remembering the lives of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty and supporting their families. Since 2015, I have been serving as a chaplain with the FBI, Norfolk Field Office.

Maureen and I have been married for 47 years. Our son, David and his wife, Karleigh, our daughter Leah and our grandchildren, Nash and Eden all live in Virginia Beach. When I am not watching my grandkids, I enjoy woodworking, boating, and photography.

I have been called to serve as an interim pastor at several different churches in the Elizabeth River District. I look forward to the opportunity to be with the CUMC family during this time of transition.


Despite COVID and all of the restrictions that have been placed upon us as a church family, this a great time of the year to begin my time as the interim pastor at Community UMC. "Why?" you might ask. I will tell you why. Lent holds a special place in the life of the church and our faith in Jesus Christ.

For me, even more than Christmas, the drama, the solemnity of the season, the sounds, the voices, provides a time for deepening my faith, praying a more centered prayer, reading the scriptures with a focus on the life and death of Jesus. Many people try to "give up" something during Lent. That's OK for you, I have always struggled with that aspect of Lent. Rather, I try to do MORE of something. I try to be kinder, more compassionate, more giving, more loving.

Years ago, when I was a pastor in another area, following the Ash Wednesday Service I had to head off to a funeral home for a visitation of a church member that had passed away. Because I knew that some people would not understand, I wiped the ashes off my forehead before I entered the funeral home. But as I entered, there were about a dozen members of my congregation standing waiting to speak to the family, all of them with a smudge of ash on their forehead. I blushed with regret that I had removed the smudge from mine. 

I intentionally wear a clerical collar on Sundays during Lent as a reminder of the call of God on my life. You would be surprised the doors that open, the conversations that occur because people identify me as a member of the clergy. I have sat in Starbucks or Barnes and Noble and had conversations with people who are hurting. Many have asked for prayer, others want to ask a question, still others try to avoid me. Just this week, visiting a chiropractor, one of the staff engaged me in conversation. She and her boyfriend were really interested in knowing more about God.

My prayer for all of you this Lent is that as you deepen your walk with Christ that it will be evident to others, that you will become a "light set on a hill" bearing witness to the love of God in Christ.

I look forward to our time together, as we seek to serve God.

+ Grace and Peace +

Pastor Jim