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Maplesville UMC welcomes new pastor

The Rev. Hampton Kicklighter hopes for a day of new beginnings on July 11. Referencing one of his favorite hymns, Maplesville United Methodist Church’s new full-time pastor would like those words to reflect his and the congregation’s experience starting that day, his first with the church.

The Georgia native received his undergraduate degree from Georgia Southern University and Mars Hill College and graduate degrees from GSU and Appalachian State University. He also did post-graduate work at the University of Iowa. He then completed a five-year course of study at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and became an associate member of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2007.

Kicklighter said his excitement at being appointed to Maplesville was subdued at first. But all it took was meeting individuals among the congregation. He said hearing them express their hopes for that new beginning helped him understand why God sent him there.

“This congregation, although very small, is determined that, with God’s help and guidance, Maplesville United Methodist Church will grow and become a driving force for good in and for the Maplesville area,” Kicklighter said.

The Methodist church served as Ed Higginbotham’s hometown church for many years before moving near Atlanta and spending several working years near the Northeast. But at the urging of his mother, he recently involved himself with the happenings of it.

“While it is a lengthy drive, it has been a blessing to me and always a great pleasure to be with my fellow church members,” Higginbotham said.

Higginbotham said the congregation has had recent concerns with the future of the church, which led to their belief that a full-time minister would be the answer to help reverse the decline in membership and grow the church.

With the help of several minds, including district superintendent the Rev. Philip McVay, Maplesville UMC is now a stand-alone church. Kicklighter will conduct his first worship service on July 11 at 10 a.m.

“The congregation is eagerly looking forward to working with Rev. Kicklighter to achieve our joint goals to expand the reach an influence of the church,” Higginbotham said. “We hope the town and surrounding areas will share the enjoyment of our facilities and grounds.”

The church has had an extensive restoration project on interior and exterior areas of the buildings, including a walking path with meditation areas.

The Maplesville UMC has been a member of the Plantersville Charge for several years. That group included churches of Plantersville and Pleasant Valley. Higginbotham said the same pastor, known as a “circuit rider” in the past, has served all three churches.

Through his leadership, Kicklighter wants congregation members to serve as “active ministers.” The church is now planning programs it hopes to benefit the community, especially those who need help during the country’s economic struggles.

Kicklighter encourages those interested to visit the church’s website at www.maplesvilleumc.org. While parts are under construction, he said it contains enough information to give potential new members a proper introduction to the church.

He also wants to extend a cordial invitation for anyone to visit or worship at MUMC. The service is held at 10 a.m. on Sundays and will remain at that hour until Sunday School programs are established.

“I also encourage you to watch for announcements for new and exciting Bible studies that will begin in the fall,” he said. “There is nothing more wonderful than a community coming together to worship the one, true and living God.”