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By Carmen Ensinger
Christ United Methodist Church in White Hall welcomed a new minister to the pulpit this past Sunday. Chris Williams took over the duties as pastor from Tracy Armstrong, who was doing double duty as pastor at Christ UMC and Carrollton UMC as well as being Chaplain at the hospital in Quincy.
Armstrong will continue in her role as pastor at Carrollton, but felt co-pastoring both churches plus acting as Chaplain were a bit much.
Williams, 46, is from Jacksonville. He is married, the father of two children, Michael, 10, and Natalie, 7, and his wife, Rebecca, is also a pastor at Wesley Chapel, otherwise known as Point Church, in Jacksonville.
Williams is an ordained Presbyterian minister, but gave up his pulpit when the pandemic hit to stay at home with the couple’s two children. Now that things are getting back to normal, he was ready to get back behind the pulpit.
“I had been doing stay-at-home dad duty for the last year-and-a-half,” Williams said. “But now that we kind of have the kids back in school and the vaccines are available this week, we felt that it was time for me to start getting back into the ministry.”
Once he decided it was time to start getting back into the ministry, he looked into some of the local Presbyterian churches, but it was a conversation he had with the District Superintendent of the region that led to his appointment to Christ UMC.
“In the UMC, the Bishop appoints the pastors, so as I started thinking about getting back into the ministry, I had a conversation with the Superintendent and Tracy had just taken a step back and the position was open,” Williams said. “So, the District Superintendent asked if I would be interested in being appointed to a Methodist Church and that is where things got rolling.”
Since he ordained as a Presbyterian minister, Williams was asked how much difference there is between the Presbyterian and Methodist religions.
“It is one of those things where the policy is certainly a little bit different and there are some theological differences,” Williams said. “But, for the most part, we are both protestant congregations in the mainline church so there are a lot of similarities between the two.”
Actually, Williams has experienced a wide variety of different religions throughout his life.
“I’ve been very ecumenical all my life,” he said. “I was baptized in the Lutheran Church and have attended churches across many different faith traditions. I even worked for a Christian Publishing Company for a while in my late 20’s that served congregations across the spectrum so I have always had a respect for the Christian traditions across all denominations and consider myself a Christian before any particular denomination.”
Williams said he is looking forward to the challenge ahead of him.
“I think Christ UMC has a lot going for it,” he said. “They are certainly a smaller congregation, but there is some excitement there and some energy there.”
Williams said has a true passion for the ministry.
“I enjoy worship and I bring a lot of energy to the pulpit,” he said. “I tend to be a high energy person and I tend to be a dreamer and someone who thinks outside of the box. So, I think I can bring a sense of newness and excitement of passion and worship to the church and the community.”
Like it or not, things are not the same since the pandemic.
“I think it’s a time of a lot of change in all of our communities as we emerge from the pandemic,” he said. “Life has changed a little bit for all of us and I think it is an opportunity for the church to be able to step in and help all of us as we make sense of this new reality we live in.”