Social Circle and Pleasant Valley United Methodist churches said goodbye to their old pastors and welcomed new ones recently.

John Richard Huggins was appointed to Social Circle United Methodist at the recent annual conference and began work as pastor-in-charge there on June 23. He succeeds Richard Charles Noth Jr., who served for nine years in Social Circle and retired.

Pleasant Valley United Methodist, on Highway 11 between Monroe and Social Circle, lost its pastor after just a year. The Rev. Theresa P. Coleman was appointed to the Mizpah Circuit, serving Barnsley and Mizpah United Methodist churches in Kingston.

Pleasant Valley was not immediately supplied a new pastor.

Last year saw much more turnover in Walton County’s United Methodist churches as five welcomed new pastors — Cheryl Noll Maxfield at Bold Springs, Dane G. Wagner at First UMC Monroe, Loretta Johns Altman at New Hope at Between, Coleman at Pleasant Valley and Daniel Thomas Wilson at Walnut Grove.

The pastors with the longest terms at their current churches will return for at least one more year. Ricci Eugene Turpin Sr. remains at Jersey United Methodist for a 12th year and Hugh Bentley Cathey is back for an 11th year at The Orchard in the Youth community.

Loganville First United Methodist Church received a Church of Excellence in Outreach Award, presented to the Rev. David Gravitt and lay representative Glenda Creasy. 

The church won the same award in 2010.

Bishop Alfred L. Norris, past president of Gammon Theological Seminary, kicked off the annual conference in Athens with a sermon that rejected the notion of a church in danger of long-term decline.

“I sense the stirrings of a new vitality,” he said. “We need to have a passion and zeal for mission and evangelism.”

The church, Norris said, is “bursting out all over” but still said people should pursue spiritual discipline and love God’s people.

“The best way for us to reach people in the 21st century is to act like the 1st century believers,” he said. “The world needs a savior. We have one.”

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