Unique Christian Ministries Celebrates New Beginning
By: Matthew Johnson, Connectional Ministries and Communications Assistant
|Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. delivers the sermon during Unique Ministries chartering.
New life has been breathed into the former St. Mary United Methodist Church in New Albany. On Sunday, November 13, at the former St. Mary’s building, Unique Christian Ministries was chartered as a congregation in the Mississippi United Methodist Conference. The church is a new beginning for a resilient congregation and an example for other small membership churches in the conference.
St. Mary United Methodist Church, a small membership congregation, closed in December 2021. After the closing, members of the congregation would still meet for Sunday service most often at someone’s home. After a while, the small but still thriving congregation made the decision rejoin to the Mississippi United Methodist Conference. Rev. James Dye a New Albany native, and the pastor of Unique Christian Ministries shares his joy at seeing St. Mary revitalized into Unique Christian Ministries’ new start.
“St. Mary was my home church,” said Dye. “I’m very excited to see the building reopened and used for a new community of believers.”
Before their chartering, the new ministry underwent a year of training from the Mississippi Conference office of Faith Community Formation. Rev. Tim Thompson, director of Faith Community Formation describes how his office helped prepare the new ministry to be a functioning church.
“We started with training.” says Thompson. “We provided training on leadership, Safe Sanctuaries, simple governance and conflict resolution. We wanted Unique Ministries to function efficiently and be a model for other small congregation churches to follow.”
The worship service of consecration and chartering was a joyous occasion that featured songs, reading, prayer and a sermon from Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. The former members of St. Mary have been blessed for their resilience with new ministry to pour into and grow, and thanks to faith community formation Unique Christian Ministries has the tools to flourish in ministry and discipleship.