pastoral staff

Greetings from all of the staff here at Central! We are glad you're here. 

We are passionate about people and the church and 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 Associate's Degree from East Mississippi Community College, a Bachelor of Science Degree from Mississippi State University, and a Master 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 and 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 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 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. He is also a Music Educator at Lamar School. Tim grew up in Long Beach, MS where he was an active member of Long Beach First UMC.  While there, he grew strong in his faith through Youth Ministry and helped cast the vision for the contemporary worship service, The Well. As he completed his Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi, 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.



  • 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.  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

  • Jan Hitt

    Director of Finance & Properties

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  • Anita Betts

    Executive Secretary

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  • Traci Leifried

    Administrative Assistant  / Pianist

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  • Glenda Thomas

    Children's Center Director

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  • Tyrone Rush

    Custodial Services Director 

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  • Denis McLemore


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  • Graham O'Reagan

    Food Services Director

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  • Bron Hersey


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  • John Drake

    Maintenance Director

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