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UMTV: The Jousting Pastor


When the Rev. Gene Martino, Jr. became friends with Roy Cox, owner of a jousting company, he had not spent much time on a horse: “I think I got on it in the proper direction.” Within a short time, this full-time United Methodist pastor was competing in his new “knight job” and learning quite a bit about ministering as well.

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Full Screen Graphic:
The Jousting Pastor

The Rev. Gene Martino, Jr.: "We are at the 29th Tennessee Renaissance Festival, Arrington/Triune, Tennessee seeing full combat, heavy-armor jousting -- real horses, real lances, real contact."

Roy Williams Cox, Owner, The Free Lancers jousting company: "Mass times acceleration equals force. The second law of motion or physics by Newton. Some know what it means; a few know how it feels."

Martino: "We are testing ourselves against each other. We are testing ourselves against the sport. Ultimate goal is truly to knock each other off the horse."

"My day job is since 1978, I’ve been a United Methodist pastor."

"We’d been big fans of the Renaissance Festival at Waxahachie, the Scarborough Fair. And our son was a squire for The Freelancers and that’s how all this started."

"Safety is number one and most especially for the horses. We train year-round—everything we can do to make it as safe as possible. But you cannot do away with the fact that it’s a heck of an impact when two big people on two big horses hit each other with sticks."

"The biggest thing is the whole partnership between rider and horse. I have to learn how to communicate in a language that the horse understands. That’s no different than preaching. It doesn’t matter what I know or what I think I know, if the folks don’t understand what I think I thought I said, the message doesn’t get across."

"Our approach is that all of us represent chivalry and honor, integrity, and that we’re all seeking a greater glory and that we all want to, to paraphrase John Wesley, 'go on to perfection and do better.'"

Full Screen Graphic:
The Main Event
Gene vs. Roy

(Sound of the Master of Ceremonies) "Knights at the ready? Lay on! Tips in the list -- excellent well.
Lay on!"

Cox: "It’s not so much the winning. It’s surviving, Getting to the end and going, 'You did a good job. This is the best thing you can possibly do.'"

(Sound of the Master of Ceremonies) "Knights at the ready? Lay on! Excellent! Splintered wood!"

Paul Hermann and Joan Gondron, audience members: "When I found out it was two United Methodist ministers all I hope is -- they’re real good friends."

"Would I do that?! No! (No!)"

(Sound of the Master of Ceremonies) "Knights at the ready? For the fourth and final -- Lay on!"

Martino: "Over the years, I’ve been thinking how much I’ve learned about church work from horses. ‘Cause no two horses are the same and neither are any two churches. You’ve got to form a partnership with your four-footed or your church partners to find out what it is that God has for you to do."

Cox: "He lets you make your own choices and things happen. It’s life. But that’s what makes us stronger."

Martino: "We’re trying to give the folks a good show and something to remember us and have them leave with a tune, and realize there’s something bigger than they are, something magical, something mystical, and get a chance to get a glimpse of that glory."

Full Screen Graphic:
The End

Producer’s note: Gene Martino’s horse, Jaques de Molay, is a Percheron draft horse that was rescued from being an overworked plow horse and is now a spoiled member of the Martino family. According to Rev. Martino, “He was bred to be a warhorse and when we put him on the field the first time he re-discovered his roots and his ancestry; he is bred to do what we do. He loves it.”

Gene Martino is pastor for two churches, Lambuth United Methodist Church and Liberty United Methodist Church, both in Gallatin, Tennessee. For more information about the jousting company featured in the video, you may visit The Free Lancers Facebook page. The Tennessee Renaissance Festival is held annually each summer in Arrington, Tennessee.

Editor's note: This video was first published July 29, 2014.

Laurens Glass is a Writer/Producer for United Methodist Communications. She may be reached at or 615.754.5405.