By Linda Cooper
Millington First United Methodist Church, experienced an historic first on Sunday, June 27 as Rev. Amanda Hartmann Westmoreland was welcomed as the church’s new pastor.
Westmoreland is the first woman to pastor FUMC in its more than 130-year history. However, she is not the first person in her family to serve the church.
Her grandfather George Comes pastored FUMC from 1963-67.
During her introductory sermon Westmoreland noted she was wearing her grandfather’s robe.
She commented that there are currently more than 400 churches in the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church and that her grandfather served nine.
“With odds like that, I never dreamed in a million years that I would serve in the same place that my grandfather had served. But, here I am. Here Jesus has sent me. Here I choose to trust that the Spirit can bring new life to me, and to you, as we live, love and serve together.”
During the children’s moment in the worship service, Westmoreland shared the acronym FROG with the congregation. She explained she learned it from her children’s minister when she was in the sixth grade. Holding a stuffed frog, she noted FROG stands for “Fully Rely on God,” and how much she needed those words in middle school as she began hearing the first whispers of her call to ministry at the age of 14, in addition to coping with her parents’ divorce.
She has collected frogs since that time, the one she presented during the children’s moment being a Valentine’s Day gift from her husband.
Westmoreland was born and raised in Memphis. A lifelong Methodist, she grew up at Memphis’ Colonial Park United Methodist Church. She is a graduate of Lambuth University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and English, and holds an M.Div. from Vanderbilt Divinity School. She was ordained an elder in the United Methodist Church in 2019.
In her first appointment, she served at Bolivar First United Methodist Church as the Associate Minister of Family Life Ministries, where she led discipleship and programming for children, youth, families and the church’s neighborhood.
A highlight of her ministry at Bolivar was introducing young people to the love and grace of Jesus and celebrating 16 baptisms of infants, children, youth and adults over the course of one year. Prior to coming to FUMC, Westmoreland served as the Senior Pastor of Adamsville First United Methodist Church.
She and the Adamsville congregation enjoyed a fruitful partnership, with growth in worship attendance, especially among young families, and beginning a new feeding ministry serving between 75 to 100 people every week.
“I am excited to see what God has planned for Millington First United Methodist Church as we serve Jesus and our neighborhood together.” Westmoreland said. “I know I am privileged to be appointed to a congregation with such a deep and storied history. I feel the Holy Spirit beginning to write a new chapter to that story of Millington FUMC’s faithfulness and mission as we begin this journey together.”
Westmoreland, 32, and her husband Adam, who is a social worker, have been settling into the community and noted, “The people in Millington are so nice.”
FUMC Lay Leader and longtime member Nathan Rawls commented, ”As a congregation, we’re excited to welcome a young, dynamic pastor, and our first legacy minister to our church. With her energy and enthusiasm, we are looking forward to Westmoreland’s ministry with us.”
Millington First United Methodist Church is located at 8029 Wilkinsville Road. On Sundays, worship times are at 8:30 and 10:50 a.m., with Sunday School at 9:40 a.m.
FUMC also houses the Millington Food Pantry, open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For additional information, find us online at: www.fumcmillington.org, on Facebook and YouTube at: First United Methodist Church – Millington TN, and on Instagram at: millingtonfumc.