TV ministry undergoes 'Time' change


By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor

Eddie Rester likes his job, he really does.

It’s just that his passion is for something slightly different. So, he’s making a change.

Rester, who has been executive director and preacher of The United Methodist Hour for about two years, will be appointed senior pastor at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg.

Shane Stanford will follow Rester, but Stanford’s duties will be slightly different. Also joining the UM Hour staff will be Joe Garvin, who will lead development efforts.

“Early in December, I came to the place where I felt my gifts, my passion was for the local church,” Rester said. “I loved what I was doing, but I felt that if not this year it would soon be time to return to a local congregation. I spoke to my district superintendent and later the bishop about what that return to the local church would look like.”

Stanford has spent the past 18 months appointed to the Mississippi United Methodist Foundation as director of Stewardship and Discipleship Ministries. He will serve part time as preacher and director of the UM Hour and part time as minister of teaching at Main Street United Methodist Church, also in Hattiesburg.

The Hattiesburg-based United Methodist Hour produces radio and television programs, both titled Time That Makes the Difference. The preacher generally leads both programs.

“We were very sad Eddie is leaving, but we understood,” said Cheryl Jordan of Laurel, chair of the Hour’s board of directors. “Anybody that has the opportunity that he did, we would want him to pursue that.

“When we heard Shane was interested, we were totally relieved that someone like Shane could come right in.”

Stanford has served on the board for several years and has appeared on the program.

“Having been a board member for several years and been around the Hour, when I was approached, I realized I had a great love for the ministry,” Stanford said.

Plans call for Rester to remain part of the program with Stanford through an indefinite transition period. Jordan said that time will be important for viewers and listeners.

“We’re Methodists, and we understand change, but we’re not ministering just to Methodists but to the world. We want them to understand, too,” Jordan said.

She pointed out that many viewers consider Time That Makes The Difference to be their “church.”

She said board members were also pleased to have Garvin joining the staff. She said the board had been considering splitting some of the director’s duties so that person could focus on preaching. The executive director has been responsible for preaching and fundraising. Garvin will take over most of the fundraising duties.

“Joe has great experience in development work and grant writing and has been a local pastor for the last three years. He’s familiar with and passionate about the work of The United Methodist Hour,” Rester said.

Stanford said his new duties are right in line with what he considers his strength — teaching.

“With a lot of the directions Eddie had taken the ministry, I realized there were great opportunities in technology for the future,” he said. “New technology, particularly the Webcast, means people can see the show 24/7. That offers a lot of potential for being able to communicate the message, not just for the show, but in doing new formats, seminars and workshops. There is a lot that Eddie has opened up with the development of that ministry.”

In late fall, the UM Hour began offering its program on the Internet. The Hour will use that technology to provide live broadcasts of the worship services at Annual Conference, scheduled for June 11-14.

Known for viewing ministry “outside the box,” Stanford said the opportunity to use technology in new way excites him.

“The primary part of my calling is in teaching ministry,” he said. “The idea of being able to teach on a regular basis in a new format like television and radio is very exciting.

“Teaching ministry is not just preaching from pulpit, but also writing, using new technology and all other media to communicate the gospel of Jesus but also the life of the church.”

Stanford and Garvin will begin their duties July 1.