Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi has recently announced that effective July 1, 2017, Rev. Dr. Rich Phipps will be appointed as Senior Pastor of Community United Methodist Church of Harrison City. Rich was appointed to CUMC in July 2010 as “associate pastor,” having previously served for nine years at Homestead Park United Methodist Church and before that he served in the South Georgia Conference for nine years.
Rich and pastor John Ciampa were named “co-pastors” of Community Church in July of 2014, equally sharing the leadership role of this growing and vital congregation. Pastor John will continue at CUMC, functioning in virtually the same ways as he has since his arrival at Harrison City in 2005, except for administrative leadership. That responsibility will now rest with Pastor Rich. As of this July John’s appointment status will be “associate pastor.”
A bit of history; when Rich was appointed here in 2010, CUMC had been without an associate pastor since pastor Ron Geisler left in August of 2006. Rather than have a new associate pastor appointed at that time, CUMC developed other staff positions to broaden and deepen the ministries of the church. When growth and resources permitted an associate to be appointed in 2010, the leadership of Community Church petitioned then Bishop Bickerton and District Superintendent William Meekins, Jr. to appoint a pastor with the experience and skills necessary not only to enhance the ministry of our church, but also have the capacity to one day take the lead role, as senior pastor. The reason was to provide continuity and vision for CUMC when the time would come for pastor John to retire. This change of appointments, Rich as “senior” and John as “associate” has been in the works since Rich arrived in 2010.
The Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC), with full agreement of pastors John and Rich, formally requested this action with a letter sent to Bishop Moore-Koikoi in December 2016. All the administrative committees of the church have been kept apprised of this process and all have indicated their support for this change in appointments. This is a very important step for Community Church as we have recently voted to go forward with the Building and Renovation Project we have been working on over the last 4 years. Pastor Rich will provide steady and unified vision for CUMC as we move into a new era. Rich will help guide the continued work of building upon the foundation laid by all the pastors and committed members of our church dating back to 1961 when we moved to this location.