Friday, December 2, 2022

New Senior Pastor Announced at OUUMC

The congregation at Oxford-University United Methodist Church will officially meet their new senior pastor, the Rev. Eddie Rester, on June 22.

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Eddie Rester at a ceremony honoring Parkway Heights for community involvement, with one of his own personal Mississippi heroes, Peggy Jean Connor. Photo from Facebook.

Rester has served as lead pastor of Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss. since June 1997 and grew up in Ackerman, Miss.
“We are looking forward to returning to Oxford, but it was a difficult decision for us since we have been involved here since 1997,” Rester said, confirming his start date in late June.
“Both my wife, Audra, and I graduated from Ole Miss, as did my parents. My wife and I met at the Wesley Foundation on campus and were married in the Oxford-University United Methodist Church.”
His undergraduate degree in psychology is from the University of Mississippi (he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity) and his Master of Divinity is from Duke University. He graduated with a Doctor of Ministry in 2008, after studying leadership at George Fox University.
Rester and his wife have two daughters, Sydney, 12, and Ann Claire, 10.
On Sunday, senior pastor Warren Black announced to an emotional congregation that he is retiring at O-U after 18 years of leadership there. Associate pastor Claire Dobbs is also leaving in late June to become senior pastor of her own church.
Senior staff at O-U are focusing on the promise of a new senior pastor for the church.
“We’re so fortunate to get a top-notch pastor. We’re excited to welcome Eddie and his family to O-U in the coming months,” said Brent Smith, O-U parrish chair of staff.
Rocky Miskelly, an executive vice president and director of wealth management for Renasant Bank, was a pastor in Hattiesburg when Rester came to Parkway Heights as an associate pastor.
Miskelly was his assigned mentor, meeting on average every two weeks for a two-year period. He said that Rester is exactly the type of visionary that the Oxford congregation needs at this time.
“Anytime a pastor’s been there as long as Warren has, there can be a lot of anxiety,” Miskelly said. “Once people get a chance to know Eddie, that anxiety will be replaced by excitement about him being there as their pastor.”
Rester is not just great at leading a church, he said, he’s also skilled as an orator.
“I think they’ll find Eddie to be an engaging preacher and that his academic standards are of the highest quality,” he said. “He gets people to think, but he’ll touch people’s hearts as well. He’s a brilliant young man.”
Congregants at Parkway Heights have been passing their well wishes and compliments along to Rester, in interviews and by way of Twitter.
“Eddie has an amazing ability to communicate. His style is conversational and direct, and he shares God’s message in a way that reaches people of all ages,” said Debbie Benardo, a member of Parkway Heights United Methodist Church, and former staff member in the public relations office at Ole Miss.
“His sermons leave me feeling he somehow knows what’s happening in my life and is speaking directly to me. He has made a huge impact in my life and in the lives of my children, and I am only one of hundreds who feel the same way,” Benardo said.
In Hattiesburg, Rester served on the Wesley Foundation board of directors and the Hubcity First Priority board of directors, and chairs the Mississippi Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry.
At Parkway Heights, he ministers to young adults, singles, and senior adults.
To view Rester’s welcoming video at Parkway Heights, click on this link.
The following Q&A with Rester can be found on the Parkway Heights United Methodist Church Page:
Eddie Rester, Lead Pastor
You seem so patient. What gets under your skin? 
Gas stations that modify the pumps so you can’t lock the gas nozzle when you’re pumping gas. You can’t talk on the phone if you’re having to pump gas. Hotels that charge for internet access are also frustrating. Why can the cheap hotels give free access while nice hotels charge you $14/day?
How did you and your wife Audra meet? 
We met at the Ole Miss Wesley Foundation. We went on the annual ski trip together and ended up in the same group for ski lessons. Later that day I managed to give her a black eye and she ran over me. It was love.
In this photo from his Facebook page, Rester had sent up a special prayer. “Dear Jesus, tonight several of my friends like JT Tisdale, Charle Bevon, Keith Kennedy, Susan Eaton and others will lose the Chili Cookoff to me. Please give them the grace, humility, and hope they need to be good losers. Amen.” According to more than a score of comments on Facebook, real chili may not include beans, and Rester was not victorious at this particular Chili Cook-off.
In this photo from his Facebook page, Rester sent up a special prayer. “Dear Jesus, tonight several of my friends like JT Tisdale, Charle Bevon, Keith Kennedy, Susan Eaton and others will lose the Chili Cookoff to me. Please give them the grace, humility, and hope they need to be good losers. Amen.” According to more than a score of comments on the photo, real chili may not include beans, and Rester was not victorious at this particular Chili Cook-off.

What’s her best attribute?
 She keeps me humble. There’s a diary she keeps that has a complete list of Eddie-isms. Occasionally she breaks it out and reminds me of my . . . lesser moments. If you need a moment of joy, just walk up to her and say, “I’m cut, I’m cut real bad.”
You have two girls. What have you learned about life from them? 
Life is always better when you expect the unexpected. Our oldest, Sydney, is the caring and nurturing child, while Ann Claire (two years younger) is our adventurous one. From moment to moment, you never know what they will say or where they will take us.
Your most embarrassing moment was when . . . 
There are many, but the one that stands out in my mind at Parkway Heights happened when I was preaching. It was sometime in my first year at Parkway Heights. I was telling a story about the glaze on a china coffee cup. For some reason I couldn’t think of the word glaze when I needed it. Nor could I think of a suitable replacement. So I just stood in the pulpit. And stood. And stood.
Where did you get your education?
 After growing up in Ackerman, MS, I went to Ole Miss for my undergraduate degree and then attended Duke Divinity School (where I enjoyed Grant Hill’s senior season). Last fall I completed my Doctorate through George Fox University.
Who’s your favorite Biblical character (that’s not Jesus)?
 I’ve always been partial to David. He was one of God’ imperfect servants. His life was a mix of great success and rank stupidity. In the end God used him–in spite of his flaws. That’s a great model for me.
Facebook and/or Twitter a part of your life? 
Absolutely. Find me on Facebook and follow me on twitter: @eddierester
What’s in your job description? 
A little of everything. I preach, manage the staff, vision, imagine, and lead. All the things I love to do.
– Gretchen Stone, associate editor, HottyToddy.com, gretchen.stone@hottytoddy.com

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