CALLED TO SERVE: Hawkins United Methodist Church pastor received early call to ministry

Published 4:00 am Sunday, August 28, 2022

At a young age, Harrell Moore knew he was going to be a minister.

“The Lord called me to the ministry when I was a teenager,” the new pastor of Hawkins United Methodist Church said.  “I was under conviction of determining the Lord was calling me to the ministry, so I went and met with our minister and talked with him. He shared with me his experience of the call. I talked to my parents and other people — friends — and finally made that decision to surrender to God’s call in my life and entered the ministry.”

He has served as pastor at several churches and is an elder in the Mississippi Annual Conference.

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According to the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, elders are United Methodist clergy who are ordained to a ministry of the word, sacrament, order and service, which means they preach and teach the Word of God, provide pastoral care and counsel, administer the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and order the life of the church for service in mission and ministry.

“It takes about 10 years to become an elder,” Moore said. “You go through a process — college, go to the seminary; (you) are on three years probation and then after that, you’re ordained an elder after you’ve been elected by the Mississippi Annual Conference. It’s a lot that’s required that you have to do.”

It was a path Moore began serving first as a student local pastor, graduating from William Carey University in Hattiesburg and receiving a Master of Divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

Living in Atlanta, as opposed to Mississippi, Moore said, “Was different; it exposed us to a lot of different faith groups that I had never encountered before; not only in the protestant but even the Hebrew, Judaic, Muslim, different nationalities and different Christians from all over the world.”

He said the exposure he received to the different faiths “helps you to understand how God has moved in the lives of people that may express that experience in different ways and emphasize different things than what we do.

“I think it makes us aware of what we believe and what distinguishes us from other groups and why they emphasize a different belief about who God is a rather than who we think God has revealed himself to be in the Old and New Testaments and that was very helpful to me; very, very helpful,” Moore said.

Moore’s first assignment as a pastor was at Sanford UMC, in North Hattiesburg.

“In the Methodist Church you are assigned to a church by the bishop,” he said.

“I was there for four years,” he said, adding he has fond memories of the congregation. “I cherish those folks in my heart.”

His longest ministry was at Lucedale in George County, where he served for 23 years.

“We raised our family there,” he said, adding he and his wife were in George County during Hurricane Katrina and were involved with the recovery.

Moore and his wife Vicki were in Iuka, where he was pastor of Iuka First Methodist Church before being assigned to Hawkins. The couple has three children and twin granddaughters. They moved to Vicksburg in June and Moore began his ministry as pastor in July.

“We were excited to move to Hawkins and begin a new ministry here,” he said. “We have loved moving to Vicksburg and getting to know the wonderful people here and experiencing the great hospitality here in Vicksburg. It’s incredible the warmth and kindness and graciousness. ”

Moore said he and his wife are excited about their future at Hawkins and the church’s ministries.

Hawkins, he said, “is a very mission-oriented church that reaches out, touches the community in many, many ways. I plan to stay as long as they allow me to remain and be a part of this congregation. The unselfishness of our people has been very inspiring and very helpful to us in making this change.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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