Monday, June 6, 2016

Hello Aldersgate!

We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. We’ve done this since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people.  Colossians 1:3-4

Hello Aldersgate! 

My name is Sherill Clontz and I will be appointed as your next Senior Pastor, beginning June 23rd.  I look forward to meeting you and hearing your stories as well as worshiping and serving God together!  And it warms my heart to be a part of a congregation whose purpose is to love God, love others, and to serve and share Jesus!

And if you are as curious about me as I am about you, you probably would like to know a few things about me!  First, with the exception of three of my teenage years, I have been a life long Methodist.  I was born in Washington, D.C., baptized at Grace Methodist Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, confirmed at Brooklyn Avenue United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, married at Gadsden First UMC, and spent nearly 21 formative adult years at Epworth UMC, here in Huntsville.  I’ve been married to Craig for over 33 years and we have three grown children.  Craig is an electrical engineer and has worked for Dynetics, Inc. for slightly longer than we have been married.  Our oldest son, Steven, is an associate professor of mathematics at the University of South Alabama and his wife, Jessica, is an elementary school teacher.  Our middle child, Phillip, teaches math at New Hope High and his wife, Christina, teaches at Latham’s Child Development Center.  And our youngest child, Laura Webb, teaches 5th grade math and science at Moody Middle School and her husband, Trent, is a quality assurance engineer with Honda.  

Craig grew up Baptist but was not baptized until we joined Epworth.  And all three of our children were both baptized and confirmed there.  We were blessed by a congregation that took their baptismal and membership vows seriously and they truly surrounded us with a community of faith that loved us and helped us grow as disciples.  And it was at Epworth, that I was finally able to say yes to a call on my life that went back to my confirmation at age 10 and in 1999 I was licensed as a pastor and in 2006 I was ordained an elder in the North Alabama Conference.

Prior to being licensed, I had worked as a management analyst with the Army Material Command Management Engineering Activity and as a logistic analyst and an Experiment Operations Engineer for McDonnell Douglas Space Systems.  I also spent a number of years as a stay-at-home mom.  I have a BS in Industrial Management from Auburn, an MBA in logistics from Alabama A&M, and a Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt University.  I’m currently about half way through the work toward a Doctorate of Ministry in Gospel and the Culture from Columbia Theological Seminary. 

Since entering the ministry, I have served McDonnell Chapel, Huntsville Korean, Epworth, Trinity and New Life congregations.  I served on the Bishop’s Cabinet for the past six years:  a year and a half as the Associate Superintendent of the Northeast District and for the past four and a half years as the Superintendent of the Cheaha District. 

So that’s my basic biographical information, but that is probably not the most important thing you want to know about me!  I suspect you want to know what kind of leader and preacher I am.  You probably want to know how committed I am to God and to the church. You probably want to know what kind of pastor and teacher I am.  And I plan to spend this summer giving you time to get to know me better and for me to get to know you.

But first, let me share a few things that I have written and preached that may give you a glimpse into the answers to those important questions.  I used to blog regularly (and hope to begin again soon).  Due to my workload as a superintendent, I have not kept up with my blog during the last five years.  However, a couple of older blog posts that can give you a glimpse into my heart for ministry can be found at:
You can also find some of my sermons at:

I also realize that many of you, especially those who attend the Bread for the Journey service, are concerned about who will follow Chris, who has been greatly loved and effective, and who will preach the Bread service.  I understand, I have been concerned as well.  Like Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, I have often wanted to be two places at once, I haven’t found a way to do so (and Craig even bought me a Timeturner this past Christmas!)  Therefore, I intend to split my time 50/50 between the 10:30 Traditional Service and the Bread Service.   And because I feel that it is extremely important that we find the right person to work on the preaching team, I will take the summer to pray and look for the right associate for Aldersgate!  But don't worry, I have some awesome friends, who also happen to be awesome preachers, who will help me out this summer so that no service will be neglected and we can make the best decision for the long haul! 

So what excites me about Aldersgate?  Where do I start?  Not only do you have a great staff, you have a tremendous staff, but you also have strong lay leadership! And I am looking forward to working with them!  I’m extremely excited to be a part of a congregation that is truly being the hands and feet of Christ by going to those in need and feeding them. I can’t wait to help serve at Picnic in the Park!  I’m excited to see the renovations to the building, which will allow for us to provide radical hospitality to those who visit Aldersgate. And I’m excited to be a part of a congregation that gives sacrificially to make that happen!  And it’s always a blessing to follow a wonderful leader like Bill Etheridge!

This week, I will be at Annual Conference, which is being held here in Huntsville. Everyone is invited to join us, so I encourage you to come by the North Hall of the VBC and see the Conference in action.  Also, feel free to come by and meet me. I serve as the Parliamentarian so you’ll be able to find me on the stage with the Bishop and I’ll be glad to meet you during the breaks!

My prayers are with you during this transition!

God Bless,

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