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Meet OUUMC's New Senior Pastor, Eddie Rester

The Vassallo Interviews — Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor who interviews Oxford’s and our region’s leading personalities.
Steve said: “I was able to catch up with the new pastor of the Oxford University United Methodist Church, Eddie Rester, recently who has just arrived from Hattiesburg. Eddie’s background, family history and fantastic personality insure he’s going to be with us in Oxford as long as he wishes!”

Eddie, Audra
Eddie, Audra, Sydney and Ann Claire Rester

HottyToddy.com – Tell us about your family.
Eddie Rester – I am married to Audra, whom I met at Ole Miss. We have two great daughters: Sydney, 13, and Ann Claire, 10. Audra comes from a family of Ole Miss football players. Her Dad, James Shows, and uncle, Hank Shows, played in the 1960’s. Her cousin Russ played in the early 90’s.
HottyToddy.com – Wow!
Eddie Rester – Audra and I met at the Wesley Foundation while students. She actually became a Methodist while at Ole Miss.
HottyToddy.com – Does it seem strange returning to Oxford and Ole Miss after all this time? (Eddie was the pastor at Parkway Heights in Hattiesburg, Miss. for 17 years.)
Eddie Rester – It does. We were so invested in Hattiesburg that it feels very different not being there. We never thought we would end up here.
HottyToddy.com – What is Hattiesburg like as a community?
Eddie Rester – Hattiesburg has a strong sense of itself. The downtown reinvented itself with many cultural, artistic and entertainment venues. There are many of the same amenities as Oxford including a number of upscale restaurants. The population is considerably larger there, in the 50,000 range.
HottyToddy.com – What are your interests away from the ministry?
Eddie Rester – I read a great deal. Biographies and history interest me. I just read The Last Battle, a WWII story (nonfiction) where the US troops fought with Germans in Austria against the SS.
HottyToddy.com – How did someone from Ackerman, Miss. (20 miles from Starkville, home of Mississippi State) elect to attend Ole Miss?
Eddie Rester – My dad made the decision an easy one. He said that I could drive to Ole Miss or walk to anywhere else!
HottyToddy.com – Your congregation is now basically all Rebels compared to USM supporters previously.
Eddie Rester – It’s going to feel strange walking around town and now being able to wear red and blue. I can even shout “Hotty Toddy” from the pulpit without someone calling the Bishop.
HottyToddy.com – Your church (Oxford-University United Methodist Church) is quite large.
Eddie Rester – It is. We have about 1600 members, which translates into three services each Sunday. In Hattiesburg, we had almost 1400.
HottyToddy.com – Will growing the church be a priority?
Eddie Rester – Yes. However, we will do it in such a way that we will work to engage people from every walk of life in the grace of Jesus Christ.
HottyToddy.com – Oxford’s growth projections are off the charts. How does this interact with OUUMC?
Eddie Rester – There are plans to expand our present church. We will demolish one of the older buildings to allow for growth. Parking is an issue, as it is for the entire city. Because of our size, three services are necessary with Associate Pastor Chris McAlilly sharing the duties from the pulpit.
HottyToddy.com – What motivates you?
Eddie Rester – I love to see people come alive for the life that God has for them. I enjoy seeing people find their place to serve.
HottyToddy.com – What did you like most about Ole Miss?
Eddie Rester – The opportunity to grow as a leader. The many different experiences were great! I graduated in 1993.
HottyToddy.com – How will your family get most involved here in Oxford?
Eddie Rester – Audra also has a very important job as she is the Assistant Principal of the Oxford Middle School. My youngest daughter is active in soccer. My oldest daughter is into music and band. Audra runs marathons. We will all be actively engaged in the many aspects of the community.
image-1HottyToddy.com – Could Oxford be your retirement home (from the perspective of the church) or is that too far into the future to contemplate?
Eddie Rester – That is too far to contemplate, however, there is value in longer tenures.
HottyToddy.com – Describe the ideal getaway weekend for you and Audra.
Eddie Rester – Sitting on a beach for 3-4 days or snow skiing large mountains.
HottyToddy.com – How will you get the congregation to focus after a significant Ole Miss football game?
Eddie Rester – The injection of humor!
HottyToddy.com – What are your personal goals over the next five years?
Eddie Rester – I will hope to find my niche in Oxford and what feeds my soul.
HottyToddy.com – Can you share a fun fact that few know?
Eddie Rester – I once had to preach a sermon wearing a Mississippi State jersey. The reason was that the congregation accomplished a goal that was quite challenging.
HottyToddy.com – What are your expectations for the 2014 Ole Miss Rebels on the gridiron?
Eddie Rester – To play hard every minute of every game. Coach Freeze has instilled this philosophy here which will translate into wins.
HottyToddy.com – Turning to the schedule, will it be easy cheering against the Presbyterians on November 8 (LOL)?
Eddie Rester – Not at all (laughter continuing) as I feel sure John Semmes and I (Mister of First Presbyterian in Oxford) will have a friendly wager going.
Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss CommunicationsSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.
Vasallo is a certified economic and community developer and is also a realtor with Premier Properties of Oxford. Steve graduated from Ole Miss and his lifelong dream has been to live in Oxford full-time. “I am now living my dream daily as is my wife Rosie, who works with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce,” Steve said.

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