Crawford Street United Methodist Church getting new pastor

Published 4:00 am Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Rev. Tom Potter will enter the sanctuary of Crawford Street United Methodist Church, walk to the pulpit and give his first sermon as Crawford Street’s pastor on July 2 at 11 a.m.

Potter is replacing the Rev. Kevin Bradley who is leaving to accept a position as pastor at Safe Harbor United Methodist Church in Lucedale. Potter and his wife Shannon will begin moving into the Crawford Street parsonage in June. He is presently pastor of New Albany First United Methodist.

A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Potter grew up in Mississippi.

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“We moved to the Mississippi Delta when I was 9,” he said. “I was called to preach when I was 15 or 16. God showed me a vision while I was actually out duck hunting and it was so plain and so obvious that I have never questioned my call to preach in the 45 years since then.”

After graduation from Millsaps College in Jackson Potter went to Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Ga., which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

“I’m entering my 35th year under appointment serving in the United Methodist Church,” he said. And that service, he added, has taken him across Mississippi.

His first church was in Corinth, “and I have served in various places as far north as Corinth and as far south as the Gulf Coast.”

That also included four years as pastor of the Benton and Midway United Methodist churches in Yazoo City.

Potter said he learned about his appointment to Crawford Street in April; he has served in New Albany for one year.

“The way our system works (for selecting pastors) is the Bishop of Mississippi is surrounded by a cabinet of superintendents — advisors. Together each year they look at all the churches that are in need of a pastor and all the pastors who are in need of a church,” he said. “And by the discernment of the Holy Spirit, they match the pastors with the needs of the churches and so the particular gifts and strengths of a pastor are matched with the particular needs of a local congregation. We found out, I think it was the middle of April when we found out that we were officially going to Crawford Street.”

Potter said he and his wife recently came to Vicksburg to meet parishioners.

“We had a wonderful get-acquainted meeting at the church and it just looks like a really good fit,” he said. “We’re very excited about the ministry and the potential at Crawford Street and we just are really looking forward to arriving there and getting our feet on the ground and getting moving.”

Potter said he and his wife will begin moving furniture into the parsonage on June 16.

And what about the delay between moving in and delivering that first message?

“It’s the way it (the selection process) works,” he said. “You know, it’s a weird system, but it works for us every single year, every single move. It’s our way. And it has been working for us for about 240 years now.”

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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