pastoral staff

Greetings from all the staff here at Central! We are glad you're here. We are passionate about people and the church and are looking forward to serving you. If we can assist you in any way, please don't hesitate to contact us.

  • John Branning      

    Lead Pastor

    John has been the Lead Pastor of Central since June 2013.  He earned an Associates Degree from East Mississippi Community College, a Bachelors of Science from Mississippi State University, and a Masters of Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary. He also serves as the  Brigade Chaplain for the 185th Theater Aviation Brigade with the Mississippi Army National Guard. He is married to Traci and together they have three boys (BJ, Aidan, and Jasper).



  • Matt Farmer      

    Associate PASTOR / pastor of missions & evangelism

    Matt joined the leadership team at Central in June of 2018. Over the last 15 years he has served various roles in ministry from worship pastor to lead pastor and many positions in-between. He was previously appointed to Big Oak near DeKalb where he served as lead pastor for 2 years. Matt completed the requirements for licensing in May 2018 and was licensed for pastoral ministry at the 2018 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference & is continuing to pursue his educational requirements as a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church. Matt desires to help others see and embrace the love and grace of Jesus and is passionate about life transformation in the context of community and personal relationships. He is married to his wife Tiffany of 13 years. Together they have one son (Ellis).



  • bob peden     

    Music & worship

    Bob is an ordained deacon with the United Methodist Church. His role at Central includes planning, producing and leading worship in all of our Sunday worship experiences. He also prepares video presentations, lighting and live camera set-up for these services. Bob oversees and rehearses with both praise bands each week and the sanctuary choir when his schedule allows. Bob is passionate about helping others engage in worship. His work at Central reflects this passion and adds another aspect of connection to our community and weekend services.



  • Tim wise      

    sanctuary choir & senior adult ministry

    Tim Wise joined the Central staff in 2015. He is excited about his ministry role serving and leading the senior adults of Central in addition to his duties as the Sanctuary Choir Director. Tim is also a music educator at Lamar School. Tim grew up in Long Beach, MS and was an active member of Long Beach First UMC where he grew strong in his faith through Youth Ministry and helping cast the vision for the contemporary worship service, The Well. As he completed his Bachelor of Music Education from Southern Miss, Tim continued his spiritual growth through his involvement with the Southern Miss Wesley Foundation and Main Street UMC. Tim moved to Meridian in 2015 and immediately got involved in ministry opportunities at Central. In 2018, Tim completed his License for Pastoral Ministry through the Mississippi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Tim is continuing his education through Asbury Theological Seminary where he is working towards his Master of Divinity, a completion requirement for ordination as a deacon in the United Methodist Church.



  • benji riddle      

    youth ministry

    Benji serves as our Youth Minister. He is a native of Mobile, Alabama, but has lived in Louisiana, Florida, and Oklahoma, and now calls Meridian home. He has a Bachelor's in Youth and Family Ministry from Central Christian College of the Bible, and a Masters of Divinity from Grand Canyon Theological Seminary. He is an 12 year veteran of youth ministry and has a passion for seeing God work in and through youth and young adults. Benji is married to Lesley Riddle, a teacher at the Central Children's Center, and they have 4 lovely daughters. Benji enjoys being outside in Creation, even if it’s just on the back porch with a cup of coffee, spending time with his family, whether it be at a park for a picnic lunch or all piled on the couch for weekly movie night, and is an avid reader. He is a fan of Alabama Crimson Tide football, a well-told story, and good BBQ!



  • Sabrina Williams      

    Children & family ministries

    Sabrina serves as Director for Children and Family Ministries.  She plans and oversees programming for Nursery - 5th Grade students at Central.  She also serves as primary staff person for family retreats, church-wide events, and community events.  Sabrina has served in children's ministry, in one capacity or the other, most of her adult life.  She has a certification in Christian Education from Columbia College and has served as Central's Children's Ministry Director for the past 15 years.  Sabrina is married to Rick, and they have three children by birth, three by marriage, and seven grandchildren. (Michelle and Robert Mayfield, Will, Aubrye, and Miley; Angela and Cyle Keith, Brett and Weston; Lee and Melanie Williams, Hunter and Ella.) In her spare time, Sabrina's number one passion is her family, and nothing inspires or refreshes her more than her grandchildren. She also enjoys sewing, crocheting, antiquing, gardening, cooking, and playing the piano. She enjoys all styles of music, but her favorite Christian group is Selah. 

    Her favorite verse in her sometimes crazy life is: "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10



church Staff

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  • Jan Hitt

    dir. of finance & properties

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  • Anita betts

    CHURCH secretary

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  • Glenda thomas

    children's center director

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  • tyrone rush

    custodial services DIRECTOR 

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  • john drake

    maintenance director

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  • kim rush

    food services director

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