Wil­liams named new pas­tor at Gravette, De­catur churches

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­san Hol­land shol­land@nwadg.com

WESTSIDE — The Gravette and De­catur United Methodist churches have a new pas­tor. Rev­erend Heath Wil­liams is now the pas­tor at both lo­ca­tions. He moved to the area in June and preached his first ser­mon in both churches July 2.

Wil­liams, a Lit­tle Rock na­tive, grad­u­ated from Hall High

School. He went on to earn a bach­e­lor of busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion de­gree from the Univer­sity of Cen­tral Arkansas in Con­way, then earned his mas­ter of di­vin­ity de­gree from Perkins School of The­ol­ogy at South­ern Methodist Univer­sity in Dal­las, Texas.

Wil­liams came to the Gravette-De­catur charge be­cause his wife, Rev. Jeanne Wil­liams, who is also a pas­tor, was be­ing ap­pointed to the Bella Vista First United Methodist Church and he needed an ap­point­ment nearby. He just traded places with Rev. Pat Bo­den­hamer, the pre­vi­ous pas­tor here, who went to First United Methodist Church in Paragould where Wil­liams has served the past four years.

Heath met Jeanne in sem­i­nary. She was a Cookeville, Tenn., na­tive and grad­u­ated from high school there. She was pur­su­ing a mas­ter of sa­cred mu­sic de­gree and planned to be­come a choral di­rec­tor and dea­con but she con­tin­ued to feel the pull to­ward be­com­ing a preach­ing pas­tor. As the feel­ing that God was call­ing her to a dif­fer­ent path in­creased, she soon changed de­gree paths. Both she and Heath grad­u­ated with mas­ter of di­vin­ity de­grees in 2010. They dated for five months be­fore get­ting mar­ried on March 14, 2007.

Jeanne’s mother was a pas­tor, so she was fol­low­ing in her mother’s foot­steps. Heath’s fa­ther was in the re­tail busi­ness, and his mother worked in child care and was a preschool teacher. He says they taught him, though, that on Sun­days the place to be was in church. They took him to all church meet­ings and he was ac­tive in the United Methodist youth group. He knew early on that he wanted to be a pas­tor.

The Wil­liams cou­ple came to Arkansas in 2009 where they both served in­tern­ships in Jones­boro, Heath as pas­tor at Pleas­ant Grove United Methodist Church and Jeanne at the Wes­ley Foun­da­tion at Arkansas State Univer­sity. Heath’s next ap­point­ment was at the United Methodist Church in Bay, while Jeanne pa­s­tored at Corner­stone United Methodist Church in Jones­boro. From there they moved to Paragould where Heath pa­s­tored at First United Methodist and Jeanne led the con­gre­ga­tion in Wal­nut Ridge.

The Wil­liams fam­ily lives in Ben­tonville where their daugh­ter Natalie, age 6, is a kinder­gart­ner at Apple Glenn El­e­men­tary. They are still feel­ing the loss of their daugh­ter Hazel, who was still­born last year at full-term.

Two other mem­bers round out the Wil­liams fam­ily. Shadow, their black lab, was res­cued from the Rogers Hu­mane So­ci­ety about a month ago. Mem­bers of Heath’s con­gre­ga­tions are al­ready be­com­ing well ac­quainted with Shadow, as the dog of­ten ac­com­pa­nies him to the of­fice. He is a wel­come vis­i­tor in both Gravette and De­catur and some­times goes with Jeanne to the church in Bella Vista. Heath says their cat, Rabbi, adopted them when he pa­s­tored in Bay. Rabbi re­ceived his name be­cause he is solid white ex­cept for a grey patch on his head which looks like a yarmulke, a skull­cap worn dur­ing prayer by Jewish men.

Wil­liams says he hopes to be able to in­crease at­ten­dance at wor­ship ser­vices, par­tic­u­larly to reach out and bring in more young fam­i­lies. Bi­ble stud­ies will be­gin in Oc­to­ber, and ladies at the Gravette church are mak­ing plans to re­in­sti­tute their pop­u­lar Wed­nes­day evening meals.

Wil­liams ar­rived in time to be a part of the Gravette church’s shoe and sock dis­tri­bu­tion, spon­sored by Sa­mar­i­tan’s Feet, in July and plans to con­tinue that program. He is as­sisted in wor­ship ser­vices at Gravette by Mar­garet Pear­son, or­gan­ist; Cor­rie Couchenour, pi­anist; and Al Blair, choir di­rec­tor. Blair also man­ages the church web­site. Dr. C.L. Aber­crom­bie as­sists in wor­ship at De­catur as or­gan­ist and pi­anist, and other mem­bers of the church as­sist with wor­ship du­ties.

Heath in­vites all in the area to come and get ac­quainted. When not busy with his min­is­te­rial du­ties, he en­joys golfing, watch­ing sports and be­ing out­doors. He is in the Gravette church of­fice Tues­days and Thurs­days and in De­catur Mon­days and Wed­nes­days. Of­fice hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oc­ca­sion­ally, he leaves a lit­tle ear­lier to pick up Natalie from school.

Sun­day morn­ing wor­ship at the Gravette church, at the cor­ner of Sec­ond and Akron N.E., is from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., with Sun­day school fol­low­ing from 10:45 to 11:30. Sun­day morn­ing wor­ship at De­catur is at 11 a.m., with Sun­day school at 10 a.m.

Wil­liams can be reached by phone in Gravette at 479-787-5000 and in De­catur at 479752-3551 and by email at heath.wil­liams@arumc.org. Gravette’s web­page is www.gravet­teumc.org and both churches can be found on Face­book.

Photo by Su­san Hol­land

Heath Wil­liams is the new pas­tor at the Gravette and De­catur United Methodist churches. He is pic­tured here out­side the Gravette church with his black lab, Shadow, a res­cue dog who of­ten ac­com­pa­nies him to the church of­fices.

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