Clergy Spotlight

Jack Stanley

Chaplain, U.S. Air Force, Currently Stationed in Oxford, England.

 

 

What brought you to the Ministry? my pa and grandpa were preachers. god didn't give me the choice!  my two brothers brought me into the Air Force.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a: lawyer. I was in the joint JD/MDiv program at Emory. Perhaps when I retire from the USAF I'll take the Florida Bar Exam

 

Something exiting going on at my Church is: the world truly is my parish in ways I only can wish you'd have time and interest to hear about. being here in Oxford, in the heart of where Wesley and Charles got their start is surreal.

 

Most people do not know that I can: speak fluent italian

 

In my free time I enjoy: golf, reading and writing

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves: trips to the beach for bible camp.. the heat and the waves and the powerful preaching where the preacher really was the feature we all wanted to hear

 

One of the best books I have read recently is: Dietrich Bonhoffer

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is: making the world my parish. that I can be orthodox while worshipping next to a. "none" and be at peace with that and not threatened.

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is: still orthodox while resetting the bar of connection to the catholic and bringing those "nones" back to the cross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Francis Turner

Pastor, Whitfield Memorial UMC

 

What brought you to the Ministry?  God's call was made clear to me as I was prayerfully considering it while making plans to begin law school in Tuscaloosa.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be an:  Attorney

 

Something exciting going on at my Church is:

16 professions of faith in last 2 years (mostly from unchurched young families), their discipleship in small groups, and their service, including their hands-on ministry and (now) participation in all major administrative committees and Church Council.

Stepping (way) up to paying 100% of our connectional covenant apportionments as our first mile of missional giving.

A new UM church starting in our facility and joining with us in community ministries.

Our Whitfield people just continuing to be their awesome, ministry-minded selves.

Many of these developments involve surprising, miraculous situations that have been humbling, challenging, edifying and inspiring.

 

Most people do not know that I can:  Play drums: After officiating my niece's wedding in Columbus, GA, the reception band got me to play drums with them for Sweet Home Alabama. It was a blast!

 

In my free time I enjoy:  Walking in woods and rambling in nearby communities. Attending and coaching my children's soccer and basketball games and attending their plays and dance programs.

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:  

The whole routine of our family of 7 getting ready for Sunday school and church and attending rural Pittsview United Methodist and Baptist Churches (depending on whether it was our turn for the circuit-driving UM preacher).

The whole congregation going to the Chattahoochee River to conclude the regular Sunday service with a man's Baptism and a closing hymn.

Dropping a coin on the back row and hearing it roll all the way down to the front during the pastoral prayer.

As a child, going back into that small, darkened UM sanctuary one Sunday to retrieve something after everyone had just left and "hearing"/feeling the beginnings of God's call emanating to me from the altar/pulpit area -- a combination of "You belong here" and "This is what you are to do."

 

One of the best books I have read recently is: (well, three)

Back to Zero, by Gil Rendle

Scriptural Christianity, by Thomas Oden/John Wesley.

The Mystic Way of Evangelism, by Elaine Heath.

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:

Having a front row seat to watching God work.  Helping churches to be healthy, authentic communities of Christian transformation and mission.

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:   Connecting people with God, one another and the world through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Wayne Perry

Conference Ministerial Assessment Specialist and Retired Elder in Full Connection

Rev. Perry most recently served Millbrook First as Associate Pastor and is now an active member of Prattville First

 

What brought you to the Ministry?

Although I did not become a Christian until college, I have always been spiritually sensitive and spiritually attuned. I spent most of my growing up years as a Zen Buddhist. Naturally, growing up here in Alabama, that did not make me very popular and did very little to increase my like for or appreciation of Christian.

When I became a Christian my junior year in college, that is when my “call” came. I was already a psychology major and intended to go into clinical psychology because I wanted to help people. However, my pastor, the man who had led me to Christ, kept working on me. He told me I did not want to spend my life picking up the pieces after people fall apart. He said I wanted to give my life to helping people find faith and purpose that would help them face life without falling apart. He was very right. So my call to ministry came through my pastor, who discerned gifts in me that I had no idea I had until later.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a:   Clinical psychologist - I turned down admission to a PhD program in clinical psych to go to seminary. And I would probably be an active, behind the scenes member of a local church. Until my pastor in college pointed out the gift of speaking that I have, I would have denied that gift to the hilt because I was so painfully shy in public gatherings. I am still an introvert, but now I know I can use that to help me connect with others, rather than staying away from others.

 

Something exiting going on at my Church is:   I am doing a Christian Believer study as part of our Disciple adult ministry. I am excited to see the members of the class struggling with and engaging the great doctrines of our faith. That is just one personal example. There are lots of exciting things happening at the church.

 

Most people do not know that I can:  I don’t know how to respond to this. I tend to be pretty much of an open book. I doubt there is anything about me that anyone who cares to know could not know.

 

In my free time I enjoy:   I love camping in my RV. I am an avid photographer. I love walking in the woods and observing the wonders of God’s nature. When I am not able to be outside, I read voraciously - usually for knowledge of some sort because I am absolutely in love with learning. People might say that I read only for business, but for me, this is fun.

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:     I do not have good memories of the church in childhood. I was forced to go by my parents, and although I went every Sunday (I was even secretary of my Sunday school class through most of my growing up years because I was there so often), I hated church. I am a Christian now despite those experiences, not because of them.

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:   one that most clergy would not find even remotely interesting - a book on the common factors found in systemic therapy.

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:   The ability to touch people’s lives at all points of their lives. As a Methodist minister, I have access to people when a child is born, when they are preparing to marry, when they bury a loved one. I have the honor of looking into the eyes of spiritually hungry people who come forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacraments. I have the privilege of giving people a new way of seeing Scripture and therefore of seeing their world. These relationships across the lifespan and across all points of life - the happy, the sad, and the mundane - is what I find most gratifying.

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:    More solidly focused on providing worship that is grounded in the needs of the people, rather than in the preferences of the pastors. This is not a “traditional” vs. “contemporary” issue. I see our church is doing great things, yet on any given Sunday, we, like most congregations, have less than 1/2 of our members in worship. I believe people are voting with their feet on how meaningful they are finding the worship. People are busy. People are going to go to church on the same basis that they go to Wal-Mart over Belk’s (or vice versa) - on what is the best “deal” for them. When people stay away, they are often saying, “Given how busy I am, I am better off staying home with feet up and mind in neutral than I am going to worship.” We need to craft worship that makes people want to say, “Given how busy I am, I need to go to church because that is going to help me get through next week a whole lot better than just staying at home would.”

 

 

 

Susan Beeson

Cain's Chapel UMC

 

What brought you to the Ministry?

I had a very clear, specific call to ministry as a young child, but was told by individuals in authority that women could not serve as ministers.  After pursing an alternate career path, supporting my husband in his military career and raising my family, God renewed his call to vocational ministry.  I was incredibly blessed to have the enthusiastic support of my local church pastor and the experience and encouragement of a gifted clergy mentor who generously invested in me and assisted me in discerning my call to ministry.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably still be a:   Paralegal/Legal Assistant

 

Something exiting going on at my Church is:  We have a strong vision for our future that includes being debt free by our 200th birthday so that we are freed to engage in radical, transformative ministry in our community. This shared vision has created excitement and enthusiasm as together we explore new and creative ways to accomplish this goal and dream and plan for future ministry.

 

Most people do not know that I can:  Bake a prize winning carrot cake.

 

In my free time I enjoy:  Reading history

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:    Sitting beside my mother on the organ bench as she accompanied the choir and played hymns for church services.

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:  Responsible Grace

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:  The privilege of connecting in the lives of individuals as sharing our faith as together we grow in our walk with Christ and experience God’s presence and grace

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:   Welcoming new believers while engaging in deepening discipleship and serving our community

 

 

 

 

 

Elvyn Hamilton and Bessie Hamilton

Locust Bluff UMC

Elvyn and Bessie were recruited from Kentucky for the primary purpose of starting a New Church in the Montgomery-Prattville District.. Elvyn will be the full time pastor of the New Chuch, Bessie will be part time.  In addition, Bessie also serves Locust Bluff UMC.
 

What brought you to the Ministry?

Bessie:  I experienced a call to ministry from my time as a youth.  My father is a Baptist preacher and that Church discouraged females from preaching.  Therefore, I put that on hold and married a preacher.  I thought that would be ok.  My husband helped me to overcome some of my insecurities about preaching and I publicly responded to my call in 2008 by attending Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

Elvyn:  I grew up in the United Methodist Church, but I was also heavily influenced by the college ministry of Campus Outreach on the campus of Livingston University.  I went on three evangelistic mission efforts during my college years.  After college, I felt a call to ministry and to attend Asbury Seminary that was later confirmed for pastoral ministry.

 

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a:

Bessie:  I likely would have become a teacher, a business owner or an actress.

Elvyn:  I likely would have become an engineer.

 

 

Something exciting going on at my Church is:

Bessie:  The Locust Bluff Church is very excited about the development of our building project for our new family life center.  I am also excited to be a part of what God is doing through our new Church.

Elvyn:  I am excited that God has allowed us to connect with this community that we have never lived in prior to June.  We have a strong core team, many amazing partnerships and people wanting to be a part of our new Church.

 

 

Most people do not know that I can:

Bessie: perform dramatic monologues.

Elvyn: play the trombone.

 

 

In my free time I enjoy:

Bessie: watching movies, traveling, reading, exercising and spending time with my family.

Elvyn:  watching sports, playing sports, traveling and spending time with my family.

 

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:

Bessie:  I fondly remember singing in Church with my four sisters.  We had a little group that would perform together.

Elvyn:  I felt God’s power as our youth group put on a play.  The message was so powerful and we felt that we had a part in what God was doing.

 

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:

Elvyn and Bessie:  Multipliers: we read books at the same time.  As we work with teams, individuals and organizations, we have found that how we frame the conversation leads to many amazing possibilities to develop partnerships to reach and help more people.

 

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:

Bessie:  The opportunity to change lives is the most gratifying thing for me.  I also enjoy the potential to do Church in a new and creative way.

Elvyn:  The most gratifying part of being a Methodist preacher is the opportunity to reach people.  No matter what the statistics of decline say, there are always a myriad of ways to reach people.  We just have to stay at it and learn as we go.

 

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:

Bessie and Elvyn: Our hope is that God would have allowed us to birth a self-sustaining ministry that is reproducing, multiplying and leading many to the hope that is only found in Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Matt Mobley

Pastor, Mulder Memorial United Methodist Church

 
 
What brought you to the Ministry?   I answered the call to ministry while I was in college at Auburn. Involvement with college ministry and a series of personal experiences led me to a place where I believed I might be called to ministry. It was a conversation with Dr. George Mathison at Auburn UMC that sealed the deal for me, when after I shared my personal feelings and experiences with him, he said, “you’re called!”
 
 
If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be:  an engineer in a consulting firm.
 
 
Something exiting going on at my Church is:   Mulder has acquired a facility in a low-income part of the Wetumpka community, which we plan to use as a base of operations to serve people in need and perhaps to begin a bi-lingual worship service.
 
 
Most people do not know that I can:  Play the guitar.
 
 
In my free time I enjoy:  Spending time with my wife.
 
 
One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves: Growing up at Abbeville UMC my sister and I were acolytes – we carried the light into the sanctuary to begin the worship service. During my first experience of carrying of the light in church, I tripped and fell after lighting the candles. My mother came rushing up front but thankfully I was OK and the church was not set on fire.
 
 
One of the best books I have read recently is:  The Pastor: A Memoir, by Eugene Peterson.
 
 
The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:  Being a part of a tradition that is larger than a single congregation and sharing a connection with clergy colleagues.
 
 
In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:  making disciples of Jesus Christ!

 

 

 

Dave Barkalow

Pastor, Tallassee First United Methodist Church

 

What brought you to the Ministry?   Being formed by a church that empowered me for ministry from the earliest age. In sixth grade confirmation I was told we where suppose to tell other people about Jesus. Leading prayer group in junior high, mission trips in senior high, small group leader in college- the question in my church was never if we were going to be in ministry but how. Even though it was after my freshman year of college before felt called to full time ordained ministry it was not a huge gulf between that and what my community had raised me to be. 

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a:   Well, I was pre-law before my freshman year… I think I dodged a bullet. 

 

Something exiting going on at my Church is:  We have hired a full time Christian Education Director who is going to focus on small group and young adult ministries! 

 

Most people do not know that I can:    Rapid fire chain sneeze- my record is 22 sneezes in under 30 seconds. 

 

In my free time I enjoy:   Playing with my 3 kids at the beach. If there is anytime left over I act in community theater and sing bass in various choirs. 

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:   Staying up all night cooking baked beans for the Mission Barbecue every Spring. It was Inter-generational ministry involving fire, knives and hundreds of gallons of beans. 

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:   Its not theologically profound but Getting Things Done by David Allen has been a huge practical help. 

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:   Being present with people during the most important and most vulnerable times of their lives. I am in awe to be invited into peoples deaths, births, celebrations, and struggles. In those moments, when we can see God at work together, I feel God’s wholeness radiating into the world. 

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:   I hope our church is known to be a place where everyone is welcome. A church that radiates hope, healing and belonging to our community. That every member would know and be excited by the mission of the church and be using the gifts God has given them to implement it. 

 

 

Dan Nixon

Autaugaville United Methodist Church

 

What brought you to the Ministry?   I have an insatiable hunger for the Word of God and the need to share that Word.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be:  Some type of teacher.

 

Something exiting going on at my Church is:  We are supporting some widows in our community for Christmas.

 

Most people do not know that I can:  I am pretty much an open book, what you see is what you get.

 

In my free time I enjoy:  Watching  movies and old television shows on Netflix.

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:   I did not go to church as a child.

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:   I enjoy books by Sue Grafton and Clive Cussler.

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:   Job security and the support of the District Superintendent and Bishop.

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:   I hope our church will be thoroughly saturated in the Word of God, and to be able to share the Good News of Jesus Christ effectively.

 

 

Kevin Kelly

Senior Pastor, Wetumpka First United Methodist Church

 

What brought you to the Ministry?  God called me to pastoral ministry while I was working as youth minister at St. John UMC in Mobile.  Rev. Neil Epler was the pastor at that time.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a: Physical Therapist

 

Something exciting going on at my Church is:  We are beginning a bus ministry to pick up 20-30 children, youth and home bound members for worship on Sunday.

 

Most people do not know that I can:  Cook and clean house really well

 

In my free time I enjoy:  Playing golf and fishing

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:   My coming to know Christ personally during a children’s revival at Wesley Chapel UMC.  

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:  I Am a Church Member.

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:  Being used by God to proclaim the message of hope and salvation in a troubled world.

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:   Is reaching more families within a 1 mile radius of our property.

 

 

 

Stephen Anthony

Pastor, Providence United Methodist Church

 

What brought you to the Ministry?  God called me at Blue Lake Camp as a young teenager.  I finally did what God asked me to do a little over forty years later.  What a blessing!!!

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a:  I am a retired public school teacher.

 

Something exiting going on at my Church is:  Looking to see how God will use such a beautiful under-used facility.

 

Most people do not know that I can: Play an African djembe hand drum.

 

In my free time I enjoy:  Not doing anything.

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:  Capitol Heights UMC and John Ed Mathison as youth Minister.

 

One of the best books I have read recently is: Is still the Bible.

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:  Seeing the action and grace of our covenant God in our everyday lives.

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is: Setting captives free and making disciples for the Kingdom. 

 

 

 

 

 

David Saliba

Greenville First United Methodist Church

 

What brought you to the Ministry? A crazy Lenten journey my junior year of college.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be an: orthodontist.

 

Something exiting going on at my Church is: we deliver a large box of food to every single family in Butler County referred to us by DHR once a month; we have never turned down a request, and this is usually 250 families a month.

 

Most people do not know that I can: run very fast. 

 

In my free time I enjoy: going to the movie theater.

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves: a huggable globe that Rev. Lynn Nesbitt (our associate minister when I was child) used to bring around and let us hug to teach us about loving the whole world.

 

One of the best books I have read recently is: Leadership and the New Science, Margaret Wheatley.  

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is: I actually get paid to share in the abundance of God’s Grace – receiving it, offering it, helping to order it, etc… - what a great life!

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by being a true center of the community’s life where all experience the hospitality of Christ and a challenge towards greater transformation.  

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Kopp

Memorial United Methodist Church

 

What brought you to the Ministry?  Maybe the better question is what brought me to my knees: God. 

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a: chemist.  I was a plant manager; I was the director of Quality and traveled across the country and around the globe.  I had a great job that I loved but……

 

Something exiting going on at my Church is:  We recently had a Veteran’s appreciation luncheon, honoring our veterans in the area.   "John Wesley" has preached the last two sermons.  Dressed in robe, wig and ascot, I read a sermon on Free Grace and the next Sunday one on  Being Born Again. 

 

Most people do not know that I can: Most people know that I tell a story or two.  Most people do not know that besides being educated as a chemist, I used to be a cobbler, repairing shoes and luggage at a shoe repair shop in Dayton, Ohio.

 

In my free time I enjoy:  Fly fishing and reading. 

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:  I don’t have any, except that I remember liking church and not liking Sunday school.  My first real memory of church was when I went to a Methodist Church when I was a teenager, because a friend of mine had a girlfriend that went there.  We only went once.

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:  The Noticer and The Traveler’s Gift, both by Andy Andrews.

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is: Visiting with the nursing homes, telling them stories about how much Jesus loves them.  I also like going to the schools and telling the students at FCA that Jesus again loves them. 

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is: Still reaching out, going to where the people are and sharing Christ with our neighbors.  

 

 

 

 

Nathan Attwood

Millbrook First United Methodist Church

 

What brought you to the Ministry?  I was called to ministry as a teenager.  I came to the Alabama West Florida Conference when I became a youth pastor at Bonifay UMC.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a:  History teacher or cabinet builder.

 

Something exciting going on at my Church is: Lay led communion services in six local assisted living facilities.  We bless the elements each Sunday at our 8:15 communion service, and teams of church volunteers serve communion, preach messages, and lead singing.

 

Most people do not know that I can: Walk on my hands.

 

In my free time I enjoy: Basketball, flea markets, thrift stores, and time with my family.

 

One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:  Wondering what a “diadem” is.

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:  The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.  A huge book, a difficult feat, but worth the time and effort.  I was not budged one inch on “Calvinism,” but Calvin has terrific things to say on sacraments, church government, prayer, and dozens of other subjects.

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:  Being a part of the people.  I am always amazed how people who have lived together for so long accept the pastor as one of their own immediately.  We begin as strangers and quickly become family.

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:  Reaching parts of our community’s population that we have never impacted before.

 

 

November 7, 2013

Lawson Bryan

Senior Minister, Montgomery First United Methodist Church

 

What brought you to the Ministry?
The Lord disrupted my plans for my future during the summer between my sophomore and junior years in college. I was working in a cancer research lab and headed for a career in medical research.  But I started awakening each night with one question on my mind:  Are you going to be happy doing this for forty years?  As much as I enjoy science, I had to admit that my true passion was for the work of Christ in the local church.  I went to seminary with no definite path in mind, but once I got there I realized that God had called me into ordained ministry.  After nearly forty years, I am still passionate  about the ministry of Christ through the local church.

 

If I had not been called to the Ministry, I would probably be a:   physician or medical researcher.

 

Something exciting going on at my Church is:
1.     Two new communities of faith for people with special needs: 

        "Joy for Johnny" (families of children with special needs get a break while their children are lovingly cared for           by church members).   

        The Adult Respite Ministry (for those with dementia and other disabilities--- just one year old and has already           expanded to three days a week with twenty participants and over seventy volunteers).

2.    The outstanding growth of the college ministry.

 

Most people do not know that I can:     Play the drums.

 

In my free time I enjoy:    Walking all over town and traveling to new places.


One of my most fond childhood memories of church involves:  going on youth retreats at Blue Lake as part of the excellent sub-district youth ministry of the Dothan District.

 

One of the best books I have read recently is:  Bad Religion by Ross Douthat.

 

The most gratifying part of being a Methodist Minister is:  having the opportunity to represent the richness of the Methodist movement as a means of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

 

In 2-3 years, I hope our Church is:  Creating lots of new communities of faith for those around us who have special needs and creatively using all the media options available to teach the community about the resources for personal and social holiness found in the Methodist movement.