Ed White, Senior Pastor
Dell King, Associate Pastor
The Congregation, Ministers

For anyone new to Methodism, or those who need a refresher, United Methodist Churches are connected in many ways - from local clusters, larger districts, and to larger groups like our recent gathering of the Memphis Annual Conference. Our Bishop, Bill McAlilly, along with his cabinet of District Superintendents like Mississippi River DS, Kevin Conrad, are called and appointed to serve Christ alongside pastors and laity of all our United Methodist churches.

Our Conference is strengthened and supported by several agencies and boards who serve Christ in special ways. Our Board of Ministry works with potential candidates for licensed or ordained ministry. Men and women who have sensed a call into ministry begin a rich process moving them from call to commission, from education to review, from peer groups to individual mentoring, and eventually into the final review of the full Board of Ministry. Candidates are honored to prepare and deliver many presentations - from questionnaires and written papers to oral sermons and teachings - our Board of Ministry strives hard to bring about God’s very best for the candidate and for Christ’s Church.

The end goal of this lengthy process — which for ordination can take five, seven or more years after a bachelor’s degree - is for candidates to receive either a License to Preach in a local church or the broader ordination to serve Christ wherever appointed as an Elder or Deacon. This past Annual Conference, June 4 - 6, had a special and yet sobering time when we ordained one deacon and no elders to serve Christ among us. We commissioned a few to begin the process, but this made us recognize the imperative to highlight the great gift of Christ’s high calling and to help find resources so candidates and families can “afford” the leap of faith into full - time ministry.

We as a congregation are fortunate that multiple retired Methodist ministers have chosen to serve out their retirement here at First United Methodist Church. These servants, plus the many gifts and talents of our Laity, are supported by the presence of two appointed elders, including the blessing of being served several years by Rev. Dell King. As I walked by Dell’s office yesterday, where everything has been boxed up and cleaned out, I remembered the gift of itinerant ministry where elders are sent to serve our congregation. I also remembered that each time we have the gain of one who’s sent to serve, we feel the loss of one who goes to serve somewhere else. As I thought of all the times Dell and I have served beside each other, and all the times we have served on behalf of each other when the other couldn’t be present, I acknowledged the loss and appreciated the gain.

Then I thought about the smiling face of our new pastor, Lea Griffith, and the gifts she, Brian and their twin sons bring to serve Christ in our church and district. I celebrated our United Methodist Church which has a faithfull process of developing strong pastors to serve with even stronger laity in ways that honor God. I’ve begun to move from lamenting Dell’s departure to anticipating Lea’s arrival. We’ll share a more vivid snapshot of Lea’s life and ministry in next week’s newsletter, but hope you’ll go ahead and MARK YOUR CALENDAR for July 2nd when we welcome Lea with a nice Reception in our FUMC Fellowship Hall.

Gladly serving Christ alongside you: Ed, soon-to-come Lea and the entire First UMC Family