Cumbest to lead church storm recovery


Chris Cumbest has been named coordinator of church recovery for the Mississippi Conference.

The appointment will be effective Feb. 1, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward said .

The appointment will make possible focused guidance, resourcing and assistance as local churches impacted by Hurricane Katrina move forward in visioning, repair and recovery. Cumbest will work closely with the leadership of the Seashore District, building upon the work of the district Church Location and Building Committee.

Church recovery is distinct from the ongoing local church and conference work in the communities devastated by Katrina, from the work on destroyed and damaged homes, and from UMCOR.  As coordinator, Cumbest will focus on the local churches and their needs in the recovery and visioning of their ministry. The work with local church recovery will be funded through The Bishops’ Appeal for Church Recovery and The Mississippi Conference Advance for Church Recovery.

Cumbest has served as pastor at Jackson Alta Woods United Methodist Church for the past four years.

The Rev. Sheila Cumbest, Chris Cumbest’s wife, will continue as director of Ministerial Services for the conference. 

Special service of remembrance set for Gulfside Assembly site

Friends and supporters of Gulfside Assembly are invited to attend a special service of remembrance at the facility’s site in Waveland.

The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 7.

Gulfside has a long history as place of worship and refuge to African-Americans, particularly in the Southeast. During the turbulent 1960s, Gulfside was one of the few places African-Americans could gather without harassment. The retreat and camping facility has offered summer camp, retreat and other worship experiences for decades. The facility is owned by the Southeast Jurisdiction.

However, the facility was destroyed Aug. 29 by Hurricane Katrina. Not a single building survived the storm. The Board of Trustees has vowed to rebuild Gulfside.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward has invited bishops from across the denomination to the Jan. 7 gathering. The Mississippi Conference Cabinet and the Commission on Religion and Race are also scheduled to participate in the event. The gathering will serve as the first stop on the 2006 Journey Toward the Light sponsored by the Commission on Religion and Race.

Care Teams helps churches meet emotional needs of survivors

As churches and individuals continue rebuilding their lives following Hurricane Katrina, not all of the needs are physical. Just as important are the emotional and spiritual needs of survivors.

The Mississippi Conference has trained teams to help. United Methodist Disaster Response Care Teams are faith-based, on-going teams that are trained to provide spiritual and emotional care following disasters. Care Teams stand solidly in a belief that the church is the body of Christ in the world. Reaching out from the faith community, Care Teams help disaster survivors connect with their personal and community spiritual, emotional, and basic life resources.

For more information or help, call 601-354-0515, ext. 32.

Ministers’ Week gets new name

The Mississippi Conference’s annual ministerial continuing education event held in January has new dates and a new name.

The 2006 Clergy Leadership Conference, formerly known as Ministers’ Week, is scheduled for Feb. 6-8 at Alta Woods United Methodist Church in Jackson.

The theme for this year’s event is “A Time to Heal…”

A team of faculty from Duke Divinity School will lead the discussion. Faculty members include Dr.  Pamela Hawkins, associate director of Pulpit & Pew at the Duke Center for Excellence in Ministry; Dr. Keith Meador, professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Medicine and director of the Theology and Medicine program; Dr. William Turner, associate professor of the Practice of Homiletics, and former Mississippi Conference Bishop Kenneth Carder, professor of the Practice of Pastoral Formation and director of Pulpit & Pew.

Registration fee if received by Jan. 13 is $75 and $90 after Jan. 13.

Registration online at

Clergy in communities impacted by Katrina may contact their district superintendent for special registration arrangements.

Troy earns Healthcare promotion

Peggy Troy, president of Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center, has been named chief operating officer and executive vice president of Methodist Healthcare in Memphis.

Troy’s appointment was announced by Methodist Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer Gary S. Shorb and is effective Feb.15.

Troy was already a part of the Methodist Healthcare leadership team. Le Bonheur became a part of the Methodist Healthcare system in 1996.

Formerly president of Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Troy, an R.N. with a Master of Science degree in nursing, became president of Le Bonheur in 2003 and now has 24 years of operational experience.

Le Bonheur recently announced a $100 million fund-raising campaign to add on to its current location and move its inpatient care to a larger, new $235 million facility by 2010.

This announcement follows the recent announcement by Cameron Welton, Methodist’s current chief operating officer that he will retire at the end of March. 

Siblings to perform at Long Beach

Soprano Rachel Barham and her brother Winston Barham, who plays piano and organ, will present a concert of classical and sacred music in Mississippi this month.

The event is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Dec. 26 at Long Beach First United Methodist Church.

The Barhams, children of the Rev. Ron and Carrol Barham, are professional musicians and graduates of Long Beach High School and Phi Beta Kappa double major graduates of Millsaps College. Both performed and toured Europe with the LBHS Choir and Madrigal Singers and were members of the Millsaps Singers. Winston Barham majored in organ performance and classical studies and Rachel Barham in music (voice) and European studies. 

Winston Barham has done graduate study in Latin and works in the music library at the University of Virginia. He is a part-time organist at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville.

Rachel Barham received a master’s degree in vocal performance from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she works in the music library. She is a member of several professional choral ensembles in the D.C. area and is a frequent soloist, including performances at the National Cathedral. She performed and recorded in Vatican City with the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The music will be a combination of sacred, operatic, art songs and international pieces, both organ and vocal. There is no admission charge and dress is casual.

First UMC is located at 208 Pine St. For information, contact Rachel Barham at or Carrol Barham at 662-263-4192.

First Smoke-Free Sabbath set

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Mississippi, says the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. It costs Mississippians more than $243 million annually to treat tobacco-related diseases through the Medicaid program alone. Nearly 4,900 Mississippians die each year as a result of tobacco use. However, all of this can be prevented.

The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi encourages churches and other faith-based organizations to highlight the importance of tobacco education and prevention during the first Smoke-Free Sabbath organized statewide. Smoke-Free Sabbath, scheduled for Jan. 6-8, is an opportunity for people of faith to jointly express their concern for the health and well-being of the people of Mississippi. It is an occasion of prayer, congregational awareness and a call to action for persons of faith.

The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi provides free worship resources for a Smoke-Free Sabbath observance. Local Community/Youth Partnership program directors are available to assist churches and other organizations that wish to take part in this inaugural event. Organizations can contact the Partnership 800-746-5437, or visit its Web site at to obtain the faith-based materials and to find the local project director.

Holiday closing

The headquarters building of the Mississippi Conference will be closed Dec. 22-Jan. 2. The office will re-open at 8 a.m. Jan. 3. In addition, Treasurer David Stotts has designated Jan. 11 as the date 2005 apportionment payments must be in his office.