Bishop assigns Thompson, McAlilly to fill Cabinet posts


By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor

Bill McAlilly will move from one end of the state to the other in June, while Tim Thompson will move across town.

McAlilly and Thompson have been appointed district superintendents by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. McAlilly, currently pastor at Tupelo First United Methodist Church, will be appointed superintendent of the Seashore District in June, while Thompson, pastor at Meridian St. Paul and Haven Chapel UMCs, will become superintendent of the Meridian District.

In addition to appointing McAlilly and Thompson, Ward named the Rev. Jerry Beam superintendent of the New Albany District. Beam has been serving as superintendent of the Seashore District. The Rev. Bert Felder, current New Albany District superintendent, plans to retire in June. The Rev. Any Ray, Meridian District superintendent, will follow McAlilly at Tupelo First UMC.

“We give thanks for the gifts and graces that each of these leaders among us bring to their new work,” Ward said. “We will be well-led into the coming conference year, not only by these brothers in Christ but also by the clergy who serve across the expanse of Mississippi. Thank you for your continued prayers as I work with the Cabinet to be faithful to the responsibilities entrusted to us.”

Both new Cabinet members will be working directly with churches dealing with the impact of Hurricane Katrina. In Meridian, Thompson’s churches have partnered with other churches to provide relief and aid to the local community and many evacuees who sought shelter in Meridian. He said continuing to serve those needs will be important over the next few years.

“It will also be a challenge for the local church to become more community minded,” said Thompson, 46. “We need to emphasis evangelism and discipleship. The local churches have to be faith led. We live in a time that is similar to the first century church. We have to find a way to reach people who may not have a good opinion of the local church as there used to be.”

McAlilly, 49, said having Tupelo First UMC partner with Bay St. Louis Main Street UMC has “given me a tremendous insight into what the real day-to-day issues have been.”

“Over the last several months, it has been interesting to watch the progression of healing in the lives of those that I’ve come to know,” he said. “My sense has been there has been a lot of isolation among folks. That gives us the opportunity to think about how to overcome some of that isolation and build some bridges.

“It also restores faith in God and his people as they have found ways to overcome difficulties and continued to serve and offer help.”

McAlilly said serving the Seashore District will be different from any other. “The district is in a unique situation in that business is not as usual. We have an opportunity to rethink and dream about what ministry and mission can be like,” he said. “We have an opportunity to see how we can do district work differently, resource differently, mobilize and build on the strengths already in place.”

McAlilly and Thompson said they see their primary role as being pastors to the pastors. “I think that’s the key role at this point in time; particularly in this setting,” McAlilly said. “I want to be an encourager to help the local church focus on the ministry and mission at the local level. I want to empower, encourage and resource them in ways that are helpful.”

“I want to empower the pastors to be what God has called them to be within the local church,” Thompson said.

McAlilly has been at Tupelo First UMC for five years. He has also served appointments at Getwell Road in Southaven, Philadelphia First UMC, and Madison St. Matthew’s.

Thompson served at Itta Bena Samuel UMC before going to Meridian St. Paul in 2002.