Metro-Jackson to get church plant


By Woody Woodrick

Advocate Editor

For the second straight year, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward has appointed a pastor to plant a new church for the Mississippi Conference.


The Rev. John Hugh Tate has been appointed to start a new church in the metro-Jackson area, Ward announced Feb. 12. Tate has been an associate pastor at Jackson Christ UMC for the past three years.


In addition, Ward announced that Dr. Steve McDonald has been appointed to serve as senior pastor at Meridian Central UMC and that the Rev. Vickie White and Dr. Bob Rambo have been appointed district superintendents. Each of the appointments are projected and would be effective July 1.


Ward said Tate’s and McDonald’s appointments were the first made for the upcoming church year and illustrate the conference’s commitment to starting new churches and the priority of the local church.


“There is no appointment more important than the ministry of the local church,” she said in a statement announcing the appointments. “It is in the local church that our life together unfolds, and it is out of the local church that ministry is extended. The local church is the mission station, the place of welcome and salvation and growth in holiness.”


Tate said he’s excited about the appointment. “This is something (Linda and I) have wanted to do and feel like this is God’s call on our lives,” he said. “It’s not something that everybody wants to do or should do. I was mentored in seminary by a professor who had planted a church. I have known Brian Collier for a long time. Seeing what he did sparked my interest.”


Collier was appointed to plant a church in Tupelo in 1998. The Orchard is now one of the fastest growing churches in the conference.


The exact area in metro-Jackson where Tate will serve has not been determined. “The district superintendent (the Rev. Giles Lindley) and I will be meeting during the next couple of months,” Tate said. “I would like to see that nailed down by the time I leave Christ so I can have a target on which to focus.


“We’re trying to look at what is the best location with respect to existing churches and what will happen in metro-Jackson in the next five to 10 years and where would be a good place to be in relation to that time period.


“The first priority will be to find a place for worship. That might be a storefront, warehouse or movie theater.”


Tate said he will spend the time prior to July 1 reading the Bible and listening for God’s guidance. “My daily devotionals are the main time when I hear the voice of the spirit speaking to me,” he said.


He said he also plans to talk to Collier and Pat Ward, who was appointed in 2006 to plant a church in Oxford, and to study books by those who have planted churches.


“The bishop said the other day that a conference that doesn’t plant new churches is like a church that doesn’t receive new members,” Tate said. “I believe planting churches helps existing churches because it brings a sense of excitement and allows existing churches to rethink their ministries. Are we doing what we need to reach people so they won’t go stagnant? It’s a win-win situation.”


McDonald was appointed to serve the Greenwood District in 2004. Prior to that, he served Brandon First UMC from 1998-2004.


White will follow McDonald in the Delta. She previously served as a pastor in the region. She was the Wesley Foundation director at Delta State University and the pastor at Boyle UMC and then at Ruleville. She currently serves Byhalia-Fountainhead.


Rambo, senior pastor at Clinton First UMC, has been appointed to the Starkville District, where the Rev. Ray Wallace currently serves. Wallace plans to retire in June. Rambo has served appointments in Corinth, Ripley and Clarksdale.


“Vickie and Bob are excellent leaders, effective pastors and good articulators of the vision God is giving to us,” Ward said. “In our time, district superintendents are called to be mentors and coaches of pastors. Bob and Vickie will do this very well.”


Ward and the Cabinet meet March 19-21 and April 16-19 to continue to work on clergy appointments.