By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The United Methodist Church in Northeast Mississippi has announced some changes this spring, including welcoming a new district superintendent and temporarily realigning some administrative responsibilities.
The Rev. Jimmy Barnes, 63, will take over as superintendent of the Tupelo District after the denomination’s statewide Annual Conference in June.
Barnes, a Plantersville native, worked for TVA before being ordained a full elder in 2002. He returned to Tupelo two years ago after serving a charge at Central United Methodist Church in Jackson.
Since July of 2008 Barnes has been the pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Tupelo, the congregation where, under the tutelage of the Rev. George Pulliam, he first began studying to become a minister.
Barnes will replace outgoing superintendent the Rev. Geoffery Joyner, 55, who will have served in the position for one year after coming to Tupelo from Vicksburg.
In his new role Barnes, who also served previous charges in Winona, Nettleton and Okolona, will oversee the 113 churches throughout the district.
He’s cautiously optimistic about handling his new responsibilities, but he’s also a little sad about leaving the pulpit at St. Paul.
“People received the news fairly well, and they’re excited for me,” said Barnes, who made the announcement to his congregation Sunday.
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Conference expressed confidence in Barnes, saying that his knowledge of the district and its people will serve him well in his new role.
Joyner also spoke highly of his successor, but added, like Barnes, he’s a little sad about leaving his current post.
“My wife and I have prayed about this a lot,” said Joyner, adding that, although he’s enjoyed working with people throughout the district, he has a “pastor’s heart,” and feels called to return to ministry in the local church.
Farther to the northwest, the recession is bringing a change in the way the church oversees the Senatobia District.
As a financial belt-tightening measure, the superintendents of the New Albany and Greenwood districts will share supervision of the Senatobia District for one year.
According to Morgan Ward the responsibilities for overseeing the district’s 89 churches will be divided between the Rev. Jerry Beam in New Albany and the Rev. Vickie White in Greenwood.
The Rev. Victoria Sizemore-Baldwin has served as superintendent for the Senatobia District for the past seven years and, like Joyner, plans to return to local church ministry after Annual Conference.
Since January a similar arrangement has been in place among three other of the denomination’s 10 statewide districts.
The Rev. Giles Lindley, superintendent of the Starkville District, and the Rev. Henderson Rasberry, superintendent of the West Jackson District, have shared oversight of the East Jackson District.
Bishop Morgan Ward said that this is a temporary arrangement, and will help the church save money in a time when it’s sorely needed.