REAd below

The May-June and July-August Issues of The Central Call are complete on this page. (Scroll down for all the news.)

  • Dates to Remember
  • 2018 Pastoral Appointments
  • The MidWeek Forge
  • Coffee With The Pastors
  • ShelbyNext
  • Administration and Finance
  • A Note from the Pastor
  • Central's Children's Center
  • Children and Family Ministry
  • Promotion Sunday
  • Blessing of the Backpacks
  • Teacher Appreciation Sunday
  • First-Grade Bible Appreciation
  • Camp Wesley Pines [Younger/Older Elementary]
  • Student Ministry
  • Senior Adult Ministry
  • Missions
  • 2018 Mission Outreach [School Supplies Drive - Find Out How You Can Help!]
  • Prayer Shawl Ministry
  • Music Ministry
  • On-Call Ministry Staff

If you would like to print a pdf version of The Central Call for

July-August 2018, click here.

May-June 2018, click here.

Click here for the June printable birthday calendar.

Click here for the July printable birthday calendar.

Click here for the August printable birthday calendar. 



5:30 p.m. - Zone/Club 412/Youth Worship

RESUMES August 19, 2018


10:00 a.m. - Easy Chair Yoga

[meets year-round when church is open]

1:00 p.m. - Prayer Shawl Ministry

[FINAL mid-June / RESUMES mid-August]


9:30 a.m. - Women’s Bible Study

[FINAL June 12 - RESUMES mid-August]


5:00 p.m. - Supper

6:00 p.m. - MidWeek Forge/Programming

[RESUMES - August 15, 2018]


11:30 a.m. - Lunch Bunch

[does not meet certain holiday weekends]

XYZ - 11:00 a.m.

May 1 [FINAL]

[RESUMES - September 11]

NAMED UMW - 9:00 a.m.

May Not Resume

NextStep [formerly known as CWTP] - 10:30 A.M.

July 22


July 29


August 26


July 29

September 30

November 18



August 5


August 12

2018 Pastoral appointments

Since 2013, Dennis Gossett has served as our Associate Pastor here at Central. He has shared with us his passion for Christ and gentle nature through Senior Adult Ministries, Missions, and Evangelism. Dennis along with his wife, Dawn, have truly left their page in the story of Central United Methodist Church.

The Bishop and Cabinet have identified a ministry opportunity and need that requires Dennis’ gifts and graces. It is with sadness we see him transition from Central to Lead Pastor of Greenwood First United Methodist Church. However, we know that God will use Dennis and Dawn to grow the Kingdom of God in this season of ministry that they are entering.

We will celebrate Dennis and Dawn’s ministry among us at our annual Shrimp Boil on June 3rd and will present them with a token of our love from Central.

As much as our hearts are saddened to see Dennis and Dawn leave us, we rejoice with the appointment of Matthew Farmer and Tim Wise to our Ministerial Staff. Matthew will be leading us in the areas of Missions and Evangelism while Tim will transition into our Senior Adult Ministry in addition to his Chancel Choir Ministry.

Let us continue to pray for our community of faith and ask God to use us to bring others to follow him.

Rev. John Branning

Goodbye from rev. gossett

As many of you already know, I have been appointed to the Greenwood District as pastor of First United Methodist Church of Greenwood, which will take effect on June 26, 2018. First, allow me to express my sincere gratitude to the entire Central UMC family for your patience, guidance, and wisdom that you have shared with me over the past five years. You have made Dawn, Shelby, Cole, and me feel so welcomed from the very first day and have become our extended family—our home away from home.

Second, you have been such an encouragement to me. I am indebted to the Central community for giving me room to grow as a pastor, teacher, and administrator. A big “thank you” to our Lead Pastor, John Branning, for taking a chance on this older Associate Pastor. The experience and knowledge I have gained here at Central will most definitely further me in the future. I can now leave with confidence to serve the folks in the Greenwood area.

Finally, I want to give a huge “shout-out” to the Senior Adult Ministry. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful ministry. I am taking with me your spirit of volunteerism, excitement, zest for life, as well as all of the collective wisdom into every future appointment. You have helped me more than you will ever know.

If I could ever give advice to any future clergy person, it would be, “Apply for an associate position, and if at all possible, go to Central!”

With much love,


Greetings From Matt Farmer

Greetings Friends! 

My family and I are honored to be joining the Central UMC family.  We too believe that life is better connected, and we are excited to connect with you!  We have already been warmly welcomed by many and look forward to partnering with each of you in life and ministry.

I began my journey in ministry in the first quarter of 2003 as a worship pastor. During the last 15 years, I have had the honor of serving in various ministerial roles — from church planting and youth ministry to children’s ministry and senior pastoring and the many areas in between.

My previous appointment was at Big Oak UMC near DeKalb, MS, where I served as Senior Pastor for two years.  During my time there, I completed Mississippi Licensing School with the United Methodist Church and was licensed for pastoral ministry at Annual Conference this year.

My wife, Tiffany, of 13 years, is a Physical Therapist Assistant and currently works at H.C. Watkins in Quitman, MS.  Together, we have one son, Ellis, who is ten-years-old.

In my spare time, I love painting with watercolor and drawing, reading, playing euro-style/designer board & card games with my family, and playing video games with my son.

My family and I are natives of Meridian.  We have a passion for helping others experience the grace and love of Jesus Christ in their lives. Our prayer is that as we join Central in ministry and begin working together to reach our community with the message of Jesus that we will continue to see God’s hand at work through the various ministries offered here.  We look forward to serving you as we tenaciously pursue the will of God for our lives and His church!


Matt Farmer

Central's Future

director of senior adult ministry

Although many of you know me, I am excited about the new opportunities Central has afforded me and continues to afford me. While I have only been involved at Central for three years, I feel as though I have been encircled within the community at Central for much longer. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue my work with the Sanctuary Choir. I will also be the Director of Senior Adult Ministry, and I have bright visions for building this ministry.

As I transition to a full-time role at Central and continue in a part-time role at Lamar School, I look ahead with great excitement! God is continually working through our ministries at Central, and I am grateful to be a part of that leadership and vision.

I want to thank you all for your support as I completed Licensing School the past six months and as I continue my studies for my Master of Divinity through Asbury Theological Seminary.

I thank God for our relationships and look forward to growing our community of faith closer to God and closer to each other.

Tim Wise

the forge

The MidWeek Forge, “where iron sharpens iron,” is our Wednesday night activity for adults.  

[Children and Students have their own opportunities. ]

Our evening begins with Supper at 5:00 p.m. for everyone!  

To Make Your Meal Reservation, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

6:00 p.m. - The MidWeek Forge and Programs




Adults $7

Kids $4

Maximum family $25


JULY 22, 2018

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. 

shelbynext mobile

For an online instructional video for the apps listed, click on the link below:

You may also call the church office (601-693-1521) if you need additional help.


    To access the ShelbyNext Membership app, follow the instructions below:

    1. In your App store search for "ShelbyNext" 
    2. Download and install the "ShelbyNext | Membership" app
    3. Open the ShelbyNext Membership app
    4. In place of "domain" insert "cumcmdn" 
    5. In the Name field insert your name First.Last   (Notice that there are no spaces but that there is a period between the first name and last name.)
    6. If you know your password insert it here otherwise click "forgot password?" 
    7. You will receive an email with a random password
    8. Insert that password in the field  (You will probably want to change that password to one you can remember.) 

    If this does not work, then you may not have entered your name as we have it on file. (Generally, your first name is your preferred name in Shelby.)

  • Give using the mobile app

    To access the ShelbyNext Giving app, follow the instructions below:

    1. In your App store search for "ShelbyNext"
    2. Download and install the ShelbyNext | Giving app
    3. You will need to establish an account the first time with your credit card or bank account information. 

    You can then use the app to make donations to any of Central's funds, even using the other field to specify a fund that is not listed.

  • "Central methodist community" APP

    You may also want to download our “Central Community” app. This app will give you more detailed information about life at Central. To download the app, in your app store search for "Central Community" and install the app. You may need to narrow the search further by adding either "Methodist" and/or "Meridian."


If you wish to view your contributions at any time, you may do so by signing in under your personal profile using ShelbyNext. Your profile information [username; password] was sent to you previously. If you do not have this information, please contact the church office and someone will be glad to assist you.

JUST A REMINDER that you will no longer receive your Statement of Giving each quarter. You will receive your End-of-Year Statement the first of January via email or mail.

"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


If you would like information about Central's Children's Center or would like a tour of their facility,

please contact:  Glenda Thomas (Center’s Director) at (601) 483-8502.


The fall program for Central's Children's Center will begin with Open House on Thursday, August 9, 2018.  The first day of school will be Friday, August 10th.  Our program is a half day program for children 1 - 4 years of age.  (Child must be one-year-old by Sept. 1, 2018.) We still have a few openings in each age level. 

We will also be offering an Early Bird Program (beginning at 7:50 a.m. each morning) and two "stay-and-play" days on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Both of these programs are separate from our normal hours and will be an additional fee.

For additional information, please call Glenda Thomas, 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 us a friend request.)

For additional information contact Central's Director of Children Ministry, Sabrina Williams at

activities for kids K-5TH

  • 1st -5th Grade Rotation Sunday School

The children meet in Central Park [Children’s Floor] every Sunday morning at 9:40 for “gathering time;” then at 10 a.m., each class goes to their designated workshop.

  • Wednesday Night Programming for K-5th Grade

Dinner: 5:00-6:00 p.m. [Fellowship Hall-reservations required]

Lesson: 6:00-7:00 p.m. [10th Street Gym - Power Up Kids]

  • Sunday Nights [The Zone K-3rd Grade/Club 412 4th & 5th Grade]

Dinner: 5:30 p.m. [Kitchen & Stage in the 11th Street Gym]

Lesson: 6:00 p.m. Zone (Skills/Drills)/Club 412 (Small Groups)

additional opportunities for children k-5th Grade

Children's Music & Liturgical Dance [with Caroline Carnes]

  • Music Practice will be held during regular meeting times.
  • Liturgical Dance Practice will begins in November.


  August 5, 2018

Students three-years-old through 12th grade will be promoted to their new Sunday school classes on Sunday, August 5, 2018.  All 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.


Join us on August 5th, during all three worship services for Blessing of the Backpacks. Students of all ages are encouraged to bring their backpacks and receive a blessing for the 2018-19 School Year.

teacher appreciation sunday

at central umc

Sunday, August 5, 2018

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.

(Scroll down to the "Missions" section to see how you can help.)

On Sunday, August 12th, 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.



If you have a child who wants to learn more about God and make new friends, then Camp Wesley Pines (Hazlehurst, MS), is the camp for them.

To register or for  more information,  click here.  

The camp dates are listed below:

Younger Elementary (Cost: $140 - includes a t-shirt)

 [entering 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade] (without parent)

  • Monday, July 23rd - Wednesday, July 25th

Older Elementary (Cost: $300 - includes a t-shirt)

[entering 4th, 5th, or 6th not over the age of 12]

  • Monday, July 9th - Friday, July 13th 


Drop-off time is 10:00 a.m. on the first day. 

Pick-up time is 10:00 a.m. on the last day.  


After visiting the website and you still have questions, please contact Sabrina Williams [].

Student ministry 


  • Sunday School:  Sunday mornings at 9:45 on the Youth Floor
  • Sunday Night Worship:  5:40 - 7:00 p.m. 
  • Wednesday Nights:  5:30 - 7:00 p.m.


Want more details?

Sign up for the Weekly Youth Email Newsletter by emailing

Benji Riddle at or visiting our webpage by clicking here.

If you would like to join the REMIND texting group, text @cumcyouthp to 81010.


Central's 2018 confirmands

Congratulations to our 2018 Confirmation Class.  On Sunday, March 25th, during the 8:30 Worship Service, Central welcomed seven young disciples as full members, as members of the 2018 Confirmation Class professed their faith in Christ and expressed their desire to unite with our congregation.   Our Confirmands are:

  • Sara Scott Davis
  • Jayden Lucas Fedden
  • Caroline Kenley Hodges
  • Meredith Parks Mitchell
  • Emery Powell Nelson
  • Sarah Dudley Reed
  • Lachlan Lee Thornton


A Baccalaureate Service for our senior high school graduates was held on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary followed by a banquet in the Fellowship Hall.  If you see any of these students, please congratulate them on their achievement!


Eli Bancroft [Meridian High]

Darby Gillette [Lamar]

Savannah Gonzalez [Northeast]

Cole Gossett [Meridian High]

Elizabeth Hale [Lamar]

Maggie Hawkins [Northeast]

Kyra Howell [West Lauderdale]

DJ McGrew [Lamar]

Cameron Munn [Lamar]

Anna Carole Purvis [Lamar]

Camille Richardson [Lamar]

Davis Thames [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. (unless notified otherwise).  They meet in the Adult Activities Room [3rd Floor] for fellowship and a meal.

Meal cost: $5

(We need volunteers to help decorate tables and occasionally prepare a meal.

If you are interested, please contact Dennis Gossett.)


XYZ - Extra Years of Zest

This group of Senior Adults meet the first Tuesday of each month [September - May) starting with an exciting program.  After the program, they 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. [Reservations Required]

XYZ will resume on September 11, 2018, with Tim Wise as the new Director of Senior Adult Ministry.

important dates for our youth

  • July 19 - 3:00 p.m. - “Thirst-day” Thursday

    Sonic (North Hills St.)  

    Come enjoy fellowship and a limeade during Happy Hour!

  • JUly 27 - 3:00 p.m. - fro-yoo friday - YOO YOO YOGURT

    Chill time with friends while we enjoy some frozen yogurt.


    Today, the rising 6th graders will officially join us!





Central’s Prayer Shawl Ministry meets throughout the school year.  [We will resume August 2018.]  This ministry serves as a mission and small group opportunity. A group of ladies come together to crochet, knit, and share their spiritual walk. This group meets every Monday at 1:00 p.m. in the Library [1st Floor].

If you would like to learn how to crochet/knit, this group of ladies would love to share their talents with you. If you already know how to crochet/knit, you are welcome to join us too!

2018 mission outreach 


Once again this year, our 2018 VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL Mission Outreach is directed toward collecting school supplies. We would like to give our Central teachers an opportunity to collect supplies for their classroom for students who are in need of these items. We will show our appreciation to our teachers on Sunday, August 5th. 

You may shop for the supplies yourself or if you would rather make a cash donation, we will purchase the supplies for you. There will be an area set up in the Crossing for the items and a box for the donations.

This mission will be a great way to support both our teachers and the students in our community.


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.



Friday, July 29, 2018 - 3:00-6:00 p.m.

CENTRAL UMC [2nd Floor - Choir Room]



Phone Numbers

  • Benji Riddle      601-685-8133
  • Bob Peden       601-938-7868
  • John Branning  769-218-7704
  • Matt Farmer      601-616-7543
  • Tim Wise           228-234-8946



    July 13-14          Benji Riddle

   July 20-22           Tim Wise

   July 28-29           Matt Farmer


    Aug. 3-5             John Branning

    Aug. 10-12         Bob Peden

    Aug.  17-19        Benji Riddle

    Aug.  24-26        Tim Wise

    Aug. 31-Sep. 2    Matt Farmer

     Sept. 7-9             John Branning

     Sept. 14-16         Bob Peden

     Sept.  21-23        Benji Riddle

     Sept. 28-30         Tim Wise

     Oct. 5-7               Matt Farmer

     Oct. 12-14           John Branning

     Oct. 19-21           Bob Peden

     Oct. 26-28           Benji Riddle

      Nov. 2-4              Tim Wise

      Nov. 9-11            Matt Farmer

      Nov. 16-18          John Branning

      Nov. 23-25          Bob Peden


      Nov. 30-Dec. 2     Benji Riddle

      Dec. 7-9                Tim Wise

      Dec. 14-16            Matt Farmer

      Dec. 21-23            John Branning

      Dec. 28-30            Bob Peden