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Sunday is Eddie Rester’s Last Day as Senior Pastor of OUUMC

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


Pastor Eddie Rester

Senior Pastor Eddie Rester has headed up Oxford-University United Methodist Church for more than eight years.

He moved to Oxford in 2014 from Hattiesburg where he was a pastor at Parkway Heights for 17 years.

It wasn’t his time living in Oxford. He attended the University of Mississippi as a student. It was there he met his wife, Audra. He went on to study at Duke Divinity School before taking his first pastor job in Hattiesburg.

He has lived and worked in southern Mississippi and north Mississippi.

After this Sunday, he and his wife will move to central Mississippi where he will be the senior pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson.

“It wasn’t a move that I requested nor was it a move that the (OUUMC) church requested,” Rester told Hotty Toddy News recently. “In early January the bishop called about this opportunity. Their pastor was retiring after nine years. He gave us time to just pray and think and discern and after several weeks, my wife and I just came to peace that this was a good moment, a good opportunity and a good place for us to move to.”

But leaving Oxford and OUUMC doesn’t come easy for Rester.

“Leaving Oxford is very hard,” he said. “My wife and I love Oxford. We met at Ole Miss. We got married here at Oxford-University United Methodist Church. My daughters are still students at Ole Miss. Oxford and Ole Miss hold a special place in our hearts. It always has and always will.”

Rester said he knows OUUMC will be left in good hands; however. Chris McAlilly who has served as co-pastor with Rester for the last two years will step up and become senior pastor.

Under McAlilly’s leadership, Rester said OUUMC will continue to reflect the same kind of uniqueness that Oxford itself displays.

“The church offers worship and discipleship opportunities with real depth, but it also sees itself as an actor for God in the community and so it leads in every arena of the community, providing a better life for people. The other thing I love about OUUMC is that it is a theologically and politically diverse church … I call it a purple church – a mix of red and blue. We have people who see politics and theology differently, but gather together in the name of Christ as one body and that is a rarity in our day and age.”

While Rester will be living a couple of hours down the road, Oxonians can still benefit from his desire for open and honest conversations on all aspects of life.

In March 2020, Rester and McAlilly started a podcast called, “The Weight,” which airs weekly on Thursdays and has featured conversations on politics, race, sexuality, art and mental health, as well as more local issues and often features local and national authors and artists.

“I’ll continue to do the podcast remotely with Christ and we will continue trying to figure out how to bring light to difficult questions,” Rester said.

There will be a reception for Rester for folks to visit with him and his family to wish him well on his next journey this Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Isom Place on Jefferson Avenue.

“It’s open to anyone in the community who would like to come,” Rester said.

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