The Circuit Rider April 2023

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The Circuit Rider

Mississippi Conference Helps Tornado Victims Recover

In March, tornadoes rolled across parts of western Mississippi causing 3,500 square miles of catastrophic damage. Many homes, businesses and churches were damaged or destroyed leaving communities hurting. With help from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, UMCOR, and United Volunteers in Mission, UMVIM, the Mississippi Conference is stepping up in a huge way to reflect God’s love for victims of the storm. [Read More]

Creating Safe Harbor, Lighthouse Congregations

Disaffiliation votes are happening here in Mississippi, but not all members of disaffiliating local congregations desire to leave The United Methodist Church. These persons committed to staying United Methodist are reaching out to find safe harbor to discern what’s next in their faith journey. In an effort to create safe places for those committing to remain United Methodist, the Mississippi Conference is designating Lighthouse Congregations to help facilitate that process. According to the Mississippi Conference Office of Faith Community Formation, Lighthouse Congregations are United Methodist churches that are equipped specifically to welcome anyone whose church has closed or disaffiliated, or are simply looking for a place to belong. Read more about Lighthouse Congregations here

Ministries Have Resources to Address Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and churches have many caring staffers and resources available to address the needs of people in their congregations and communities who struggle with their mental health. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church calls on Methodists to be in ministry for individuals and their families challenged by mental illnesses and disorders. Mental health is often an unseen and overlooked aspect of people’s overall health. Many people visit their doctor annually to address their physical well-being, but neglect to seek treatment for mental stresses and disorders. Click here to read more about resources available to faith communities.

Monthly Newsletter April 2023 IN THIS ISSUE: Gulfside Celebrates 100 years page 2 | Native American Ministries Sunday page 2 | Is the United Methodist Church Really...? page 2 | DRT Webinar page 3 | New AC App page 3 | Save the Dates page 4
Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church
UMCOR workers help make repairs to a home in Rolling Fork.

Gulfside Assembly Celebrates 100 Years

Gulfside Assembly celebrates 100 years of ministry in the community April 27-29. The weekend celebration will feature a meet and greet, golf tournament, anniversary gala, community service project and worship service. The theme for the event is “Gulfside Assembly – A Legacy of Advocacy and Resilience.” Click here or call 228.206.1750 for more details on the event and to register.

Native American Ministries Sunday

Native American Ministries Sunday brings awareness to United Methodist congregations of the gifts and contributions made by Native Americans to our society. Donations collected during this Special Sunday strengthen Native American ministries, fund scholarships and develop new programs that benefit Native Americans. Click here for the Native American ministries pastor and leader kit.

Communications Tool Kit: Church Website

Your church’s website is your digital front door ― your chance at making a good impression. Boost your chances with a great website! If you don’t have one or you have room for improvement, the Local Church Services team can build you a fully customized website experience at an affordable price to enhance digital ministry and outreach. Packages include:

• Five custom web pages and branded email addresses.

• One year of web hosting and domain name registration.

• WordPress online training and one-on-one coaching.

• Plenty of storage and top-of-the-line ID protection.

Is The United Methodist Church Really…?


The seventh article in the series offers factual responses to annual conference disaffiliation policies, The United Methodist Church’s settlement with Boy Scouts of America and retired clergy whose charge conference membership is in a church that is disaffiliating. Find answers to these questions here. To read the complete series click here

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Connection News

Mississippi Conference News

District Realignment Task Force

Webinar Addresses Changes

The district realignment task force recently announced their recommendation that the Mississippi United Methodist Conference should reduce to seven districts. The task force will host a webinar April 20 at 6:30 p.m., to receive comments and address

questions that have arisen from their recommendation. To see a video invite to the webinar from retired elder, Rev. Mike Hicks, and conference lay leader, Latoya Redd-Thompson click here. For more information and to log into the webinar, click here

2023 Bible Challenge Check-in

At the beginning of the year Bishop Sharma D. Lewis challenged the Mississippi Conference to read the Bible together from Genesis to Revelation. In a recent message, Bishop Lewis applauds those who have kept up with daily readings and encourages those who have fallen behind or who have not started that April is a great time to catch up. Click here to watch Bishop Lewis’ message and click here for all things 2023 Bible Challenge. We would like to hear how your church, small group or Sunday school class has participated in the 2023 Bible Challenge. Email us at

Conference Treasurer’s Notes

When it comes to properly administering church finances there are many moving pieces. In his latest notes, conference treasurer, David Stotts, covers finance and a whole lot more.

This month’s notes offer guidance on payroll, benefits, audits, budget, cyber security, churches departing the conference, annual conference travel and covenant payments for churches disaffiliating. To read the latest treasurer’s notes, click here.

Download the New Annual Conference App

This year there is a new app for all things 2023 Annual Conference. Now available in the Apple and Android app stores, the MS UM Conference app will have information and updates for each day of the annual conference. All the information from the app will also be on the web. Those who wish to view the website accompanying the app can click here

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Upcoming “Chat and Chews with Bishop Lewis” – April 22 and June 3

Clergy and laity in the East and West Jackson and Brookhaven Districts areas are invited to fellowship with Mississippi’s new episcopal leader, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis. On Saturday, April 22 you can attend “Chat and Chew with Bishop Lewis” at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson, and on Saturday, June 3 the event will be held at Crystal Springs United Methodist Church in Crystal Springs. Clergy and laity who plan to attend must RSVP with the district office. All clergy are required to attend one of the “Chat and Chews with Bishop Lewis.” Click here to view the full “Chat and Chew with Bishop Lewis” schedule.

Methodist Senior Service Sunday Fund – May 14

Sunday Fund is a benevolence fund created to meet the financial burdens of elders who live in one of the 12 Methodist Senior Services communities. These are elderly people who

April Appointments/Status Changes

can no longer afford the cost of housing or care. To date, because of the generosity of United Methodist Churches, a Methodist Senior Services elder has never had to leave. The Sunday Fund is not an apportioned item and 100% of the donations are used to support these elders. You can also donate here

Clash of the Clergy – April 29

On April 29, clergy from around the state will gather at Camp Wesley Pines in Hazlehurst to raise money for summer camp scholarships. For more information and to donate to the event, click here

Peace With Justice Sunday – June 4

The United Methodist Church has a historic commitment to peace and justice and encourages peaceful solutions to all conflicts. The Special Sunday, Peace with Justice Sunday, is June 4, and donations from that Sunday will support programs and ministries that equip and mobilize actions in support of economic, health and gender justice priorities. Click here for more information on Peace with Justice Sunday and resources to use in your congregation.


As a courtesy to the Mississippi Annual Conference, job announcements from across the United Methodist connection are featured in The Circuit Rider. To submit an employment notice, send an email to Postings are not guaranteed to appear more than once in Mississippi Conference publications. To read a description of job opening(s) listed below as well as other listing, click here.

• Worship Arts Director, Spanish Fort United Methodist Church (Spanish Fort, AL)

Annual Conference – June 27-30

The 2023 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference takes place June 27-30 at the Cadence Bank Arena in Tupelo located at 375 E. Main St. in Tupelo. The theme for this year’s session is “Moving Forward in Making Disciples.” Each year, an equal number of clergy members and laity attend the annual conference session for worship, fellowship and to conduct the business of the conference. During these sessions, members of the conference hear reports of past and ongoing work, adopt future goals, programs and budgets, ordain clergy members as deacons and elders and elect delegates to jurisdictional conferences and General Conference (every four years). The bishop presides over these meetings. Click here for annual conference hotel information.

Publication Note: There will be no Circuit Rider in May. The next publication of The Circuit Rider will be the print edition of the award-winning Circuit Rider Souvenir Journal that will be available during the 2023 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference in June.


As you pause to pray this week, take time to ask for strength, peace and comfort for the families and friends of those listed below who have joined the Church Triumphant:

• Please remember the family of Rev. David Henry in your prayers. Rev. Henry passed away March 18.

• We are saddened to report Rev. Houston Hartfield passed away March 15.

• It is with great sadness that we report Janet Jones, wife of Rev. Dean Jones, passed away February 17.

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Church/District New Pastor Start Date • Buckatunna (MER) George Warner (SY) 2/5/23 • Clara (MER) George Warner (SY) 2/5/23 • Americus Parish: Crossroads (SEA) Jeff Trehern (PL) 3/21/23 • Americus Parish: Refuge (SEA) Larry Hilliard (FE) – DS oversight 3/21/23