REAd below

The July-August Issue of The Central Call is complete on this page. (Scroll down for all the news.)

  • "Goodbye" from the Crabtrees
  • "Hello" from the Riddles
  • Dates to Remember
  • Fundraiser - School Supplies for Central's Teachers
  • August 6th - An Exciting Morning at Central
  • Family Legacy Retreat
  • The Mid-Week Forge
  • Coffee With The Pastors
  • A Note from the Pastor
  • Central's Children's Center
  • Children and Family Ministry
  • Student Ministry
  • Senior Adult Ministry
  • Missions
  • Music Ministry
  • On-Call Pastors

If you would like to print a pdf version of The Central Call, click here.

Click here for the July printable events schedule and birthday calendar.

Click here for the August printable events schedule and birthday calendar.

"goodbye" FROM the Crabtrees

A phrase that has been on our minds, recently, is this, “Wherever we go, where we are is home.” When we started our ministry journey several years ago, we knew our family may never have a “forever” home until later in life. So, wherever we went, we were home. When we came to Central, we were “home.” You all welcomed us home with so many blessings such as preparing an actual physical home to lay our heads down at night, to eat, and to live, and we are eternally grateful.

You welcomed our daughter and helped her transition into a new home, and you welcomed our son into this world. You watched me [Jonathan] transition from different hairstyles to the next, and you watched Kristina lead Central into new places of ministry. You made us feel at “home” in more ways than you may ever know.

Now, it’s time for us to depart for another “home.” As you’re reading this, we are well under way into our new appointment, and we appreciate your prayers as we lead and transition our family into this new home. Goodbye, Central, our home for a couple of years that we will never forget because of your love, support, and blessing. We were at home with you, and you will forever remain in the home of our hearts and minds. Blessings to you.


The Crabtrees [Jonathan, Kristina, Danika, and Jon Andrew]


Hello, Central UMC Family! I’m Benji Riddle, and I have the pleasure of joining the incredible Central staff as the Youth Minister. While I have met many of you, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself to all of you! My lovely bride, Lesley, and I were high school sweethearts and have been married for 11 years. We have four (yep, FOUR) amazing daughters, Karleigh (9), Khloey (7), Kaycie (4), and Kellsea (9 months)!

I graduated from Central Christian College of the Bible with a Bachelors of Science in Youth and Family Ministry in 2007 and have been in vocational youth ministry ever since. I am currently pursuing my Master of Divinity online through Grand Canyon Theological Seminary.

The motivations behind ministry to youth have their roots in encouraging them to get the most out of this time in their lives between childhood and adulthood:

  • to offer opportunities where the Gospel and their everyday lives intersect
  • to partner with parents and offer support to them as the most important spiritual influence in their young person’s life:

  • to combine spiritual education and social edification with fun and fellowship
  • to inspire and encourage them in their walk with Christ

…and the goal of all this? A generation of mature Christ-followers equipped not only to change their world but the hearts and minds of those who live in it as well.


On behalf of my family, we are enjoying the opportunity to meet our fellow members of the Central UMC faith community (both in person and on social media), and we are looking forward to ministering alongside y’all!

Peace and Grace,

Benji Riddle


July 21st & 28th

11:30 a.m. - Lunch Bunch

July 23rd

10:30 a.m. - Coffee With The Pastors


August 6th

Promotion Sunday, 1st-Grade Bible Presentation,

Blessing of the Backpacks, and Teacher Appreciation Sunday

August 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th

11:30 a.m. - Lunch Bunch

August 10th

Central's Children's Center - Open House

August 11th

Central's Children's Center Resumes

August 12th

K-5th Grade - FamJam at Christ UMC in Jackson

August 13th

9:45 a.m.

Elementary Parent Meeting [11th Street Gym]

Fall Rotation Sunday School Begins:  "My So-Called Family"

August 16th

9:00 a.m. - NAMED UMW

5:00 p.m. - Wednesday Night

Meal & Programs Resume [children/youth/adults]

August 25th - 27th

Family Legacy Retreat

fundraiser - school supplies

Please help us say "thank you" to our teachers on Sunday, August 6th, by donating school supplies for their classrooms. As you shop over the next few weeks, please pick up some school supplies to help with this mission. There is an area set up in the Crossing for the items. We will also have a donation box for those who would rather make a cash donation, and we will purchase the supplies for you. This mission will be a great way to support both our teachers and the students in our community.

sUNDAY, aUGUST 6, 2017

Exciting things are happening at Central on Sunday morning, August 6th. See the Children's Ministry section for more detailed information.

  • Promotion Sunday [Students three-years-old - 12th Grade] 
  • First-Grade Bible Presentation [8:30 and 10:55 Worship Services]
  • Blessing of the Backpacks [8:30, 9:45, 10:55 Worship Services]
  • Teacher Appreciation Sunday [donate school supplies for our teachers at Central]



If you were unable to attend the Family Retreat in the spring due to your schedules, you have another chance to join us! Our spring retreat is now our fall retreat, which will be held the weekend of August 25th - 27th

Whether you are a family with young children or teenagers, this weekend at Timber Creek Camp in Pulaski, MS, is for you. Because we strongly believe in this time of learning, coming together, and worship, this weekend is provided at the cost of $35 per family member. [Central will pay the remaining cost.]  Please make this a priority for your will not be sorry you did!

Registration is non-refundable.  If you have any questions, please contact Sabrina Williams.


Wednesday nights

5:00 PM - supper

6:00 PM - tHE Forge for all ages

The MidWeek Forge, “where iron sharpens iron,” is our Wednesday night activity for adults. (Children and students have their own opportunities.)  



SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2017

10:30 a.m. - Wesley Room

The Pastors and staff of Central offer Coffee with the Pastors to give inquirers the opportunity to come together in a small group setting and learn more about Central UMC, its mission, Methodism, and membership expectations. Also, it is a time when we can learn more about you and your family. For those that are attending, there is no obligation to make a commitment, however, you may join at the conclusion of the "coffee" and be baptized if needed. 

"What is God's will for us at Central?"  

As I begin my fifth year as the Lead Pastor of Central, I want to thank you for the love and support that you have shown me. You cared for my family during my deployment and you have embodied on a daily basis the IronMaker ethos.

It is time for us to cast our eyes to the future of Central. Over the next year, I challenge all of us to ask the question "What is God's will for us at Central?"  This is a deeply spiritual question that asks God to direct the path of our community of faith and to show us how we are to shape the ministries and focus of Central.

I also ask that we remain faithful to the task of stewardship as we financially support Central and minister to Meridian and the world. I firmly believe that our greatest days are before us and that life is truly better connected.

Rev. John Branning


  • CHILDREN'S REGISTRATION:  We still have one or two openings in each of our classes.  We serve one-year-old through four-year-old children.  If there is enough interest, we will start a second one-year-old class, and at that point, we will have a position available for another one-year-old teacher.

If you would like additional information or would like a tour of the facility, please contact Glenda Thomas (Center’s Director) at (601) 483-8502.




 (For more information and updates on Children’s activities at Central,

visit our Central UMC Children’s page on Facebook and send a friend request.)

August 6, 2017

Join us on this date for exciting blessings for our children, students, and teachers!

  • promotion sunday

    Students three-years-old through 12th grade will be promoted to their new  Sunday school classes on Sunday, August 6thAll students will report to their new classes, except for students in the 5th grade [those going to sixth grade in the fall].  These 5th-grade students will meet in the Zone, and a representative from Youth Ministry will come and greet them and take them to their class.

  • first-grade bible presentation

    On Sunday, August 6th, during our 8:30 and 10:55 Worship Services, we will have our First-Grade Bible PresentationDuring this special time, the students will receive their Bible from Central that will be used during their time on the Elementary Floor.

  • blessing of the backpacks

    Blessing of the Backpacks will be held on Sunday, August 6th, during all three Worship Services. Students of all ages are encouraged to bring their backpacks and receive a blessing for the 2017-18 School Year.

  • teacher appreciation sunday at central

    Sunday, August 6, 2017, is Teacher Appreciation Sunday at Central!  We will say “thank you” to our teachers on this day by having a table set up in the Crossing for them to collect school supplies for their classrooms.  This is just a small token of our appreciation for their selfless giving, not only for their teaching but also for ministering to the students in our community.

Family event



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Christ UMC [6000 Old Canton Road in Jackson]

1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m

$10 per child [parents free] with a $30 family maximum

Parents, if you have children Kindergarten - 5th Grade, you do not want to miss this high-energy event sponsored by The MS Conference of the UMC.   Central’s students will recognize the musical entertainment by Yancy and KidzBlitz! Live

This is a crowd-participation show where kids and parents are chosen for quirky games and challenges! For more information, pick up an information card in the Crossing, visit, or visit our Children’s Ministry Facebook page.

There will be several Family Events throughout the summer months:

  • bowling
  • skating
  • game night at Central
  • Splashdown

Stay tuned...dates for these events will be posted on the church web-site and will be included in our Daily Updates within the next couple of months!

Student ministry 

Want more details? Sign up for the Weekly

Youth Email Newsletter by emailing

Benji Riddle at or

visiting our webpage



  • Sunday School : Sunday mornings at 9:45 on the Youth Floor.
  • Sunday Nights:  RESUMES SEPTEMBER 10, 2017
  • Wednesday Night Small Groups: WE WILL RESUME August 16, 2017.  Don't miss this time designed to have real conversations about real struggles and victories in life led by a trained small group facilitator.



M28 2017 has come and gone for CUMC Youth Ministry Group.  On July 6-9, our youth leader, Benji Riddle, nine chaperones, and thirty-one youth traveled to Lake Junaluska for a spirit-filled adventure. The youth had an opportunity to grow and develop their relationship with God while building life-long relationships with other campers.  They also had a chance to enjoy exciting activities such as whitewater rafting, the slide rock, etc.   


Congratulations to our 2017 Confirmands.  On Sunday, April 9, 2017, Central welcomed 12 young disciples as full members as they professed their faith in Christ and expressed their desire to unite with our congregation.

Emme Leigh Boman

Addison Hays Clodfelter

Kailey Nicole Dowling

Jay Alexander Fruge

Spence Douglas Hanegan

Anne Preston McRae

Rachel Virginia Mason

Cooper David Owen

Mason Roy Parker

Jacob Cochran Russell

Will Collins Thames

Anna Lacy Ward


Central's 2017 high school graduates

Congratulations to our 2017 high school graduates.  A Baccalaureate Service/Banquet for our graduates was held on Wednesday, May 3rd.  Our graduates are:

  • Madison Anderson [Lamar]
  • Caden Clodfelter [Lamar]
  • Kayla Feist [West Lauderdale]
  • Cassie Hines [Meridian High]
  • Wes McRae [Lamar ]
  • Matthew Moore [Newton County Academy]
  • Caroline Parker [Lamar]
  • Heather Roberts [Meridian High]
  • Kamryn Shields [West Lauderdale]
  • Brad Stokes [West Lauderdale]
  • Tate Thompson [Lamar]
  • Hannah Thornton [Lamar]
  • Madi Thornton [Lamar]


SAM is is a group of 50+ senior adults from Central UMC, Meridian, MS. 

Our goal is to fellowship with our hearts focused on the Lord.
Everyone is welcome to join us!



You can stay connected to our Senior Adult Ministry by visiting our new Facebook page “Central UMC’s SAM.”  Choose “Join Group” and a request will be sent for you to become a member. We have almost 100 members to date!



Lunch Bunch is a group of Senior Adults who meet each Friday at 11:30 a.m.

They meet in the Adult Activities Room [3rd Floor] for fellowship and a meal.

Meal cost: $5



XYZ - Extra Years of Zest

This group of Senior Adults meet the first Tuesday of each month starting with an exciting program.  After the program, we enjoy a meal together which is only $6.

You do not have to be a senior adult to attend.  Everyone is welcome!

If you wish to attend, please call the church office at 601-693-1521.




On May 20th, 2017, Central’s Mission Team [Richard Beck, Kent Partridge, & Rev. Sidney Lavene] arrived in Thoman, Haiti. Richard stated, “What an amazing journey we encountered! On Sunday morning, the people of Thoman welcomed us with opened arms to worship with them. The smiles on the children’s faces were amazing as they interacted with us during the church service.”

That afternoon, the team took a small hike up to the top of a small mountain to see the beauty the country offered. Richard said, “As we traveled to Haiti, we had no idea of the breathtaking views that we would encounter. But despite the outer beauty of the country, we also saw the inner struggle of its natives.”

The country has very limited access to food and healthy drinking water. While the team was there, they had the privilege of making water filters for several of the people in the local community. This was a great opportunity for them, because it gave them a chance to truly leave their mark in this area. The team also had the opportunity to help with building tables and chairs for some of the villagers. Again, this was another chance to leave their mark for many years to come.

Richard said, “The people of Haiti are wonderful people. They have very little of life’s basic resources, yet, they always seemed to be so happy. This shows that if you have hope and faith, God will show his light. God blessed us by introducing us to the people of Thoman. We can only hope and pray that our meeting them was just a tenth of the impact they had on our hearts and minds. We ask that you keep the Mission teams who are involved and the people of Haiti (especially Thoman) in your prayers as wonderful things are happening in Haiti.”


If you are interested in using your musical gifts and talents in any of our three worship services, please contact Tim Wise or Bob Peden.



   July 7 - 9                  John Branning            769-218-7704   

   July 14 - 16              Bob Peden                 601-938-7868

   July 21 - 23              Dennis Gossett          919-339-5303

   July 28 - 30              John Branning            769-218-7704

   August 4 - 6             Benji Riddle                 407-280-7724

   August 11 - 13         Bob Peden                  601-938-7868

   August 18 - 20         Dennis Gossett           919-339-5303     

   August 25 - 27         John Branning             769-218-7704