New pastor joins Decell UMC
A former teacher who heard God's call to ministry late in life is the new pastoral leader at Decell Memorial United Methodist Church in Wesson.
Patti Hardacre, who taught English and literature to junior high school and high school students in Madison County, started serving United Methodist congregations eight years ago as a part-time lay speaker, but felt God was calling her to do more and moved into full-time ministry six years ago as a local licensed minister first at Winona, then Louisville and now Wesson.
Hardacre's Decell ministry started on July 1, and she says "it's the best thing that has happened to me since marrying my husband."
Methodist pastorates are notoriously short, particularly in small congregations like Decell, where young ministers gain experience and go elsewhere, but the folk at the Wesson church have made known their desire for someone to serve them long-term and Hardacre thinks she may be there well into the future.
Although Hardacre likes to preach and has a dynamic style, moving around as she speaks rather gluing herself to the pulpit, she sees herself as a pastor first and foremost. "I love people, meeting them where they are at, showing kindness -- which goes a long way," she explains.
Hardacre also says she is mission-oriented and is looking for ways to involve and serve the community as she strives to grow Decell, which has about 27 worshippers on Sunday mornings.
At Decell, she is spearheading an outreach program on Tuesdays oriented to Wesson's older population. "It keeps people occupied, those who often are alone and seeking something to do," she explains. "There are crafts, games and opportunities for fellowship. It is outreach and not heavily religious." Hardacre also plans to involve members of her congregation and the wider community in making kits sent worldwide to help people in need -- flood buckets and personal hygiene kits for disaster survivors who need to cleanup homes and care for themselves, and school kits for children who don't have required supplies.
To assist people on their spiritual journeys, Hardacre teaches bible studies on Wednesdays (5:30 p.m.) and Thursdays (9 a.m.). She is also encouraging a prayer bottle program in which Decell members pray for persons whose names they draw from special bottles at their homes each day. Regular Sunday worship services at Decell are at 10:45 a.m. following a 9:45 a.m. adult Sunday School.
Hardacre is a native of Goodman, Mississippi, where she graduated from Central Holmes Academy and Holmes Community College. She earned a degree in criminal justice at Delta State and holds MA degrees in community counseling and education from Mississippi State (1985) and Belhaven University (1995). Before becoming a teacher, she worked for the Mississippi Department of Human Services in staff development.
Hardacre and her husband Paul, a maintenance technician at Nissan, have one daughter and they continue to maintain their residence on a farm at Goodman, where they raise beef cattle, meat-producing sheep and goats and turkeys, chickens and quail. She is at Decell and the church's parsonage on Sunday thru Thursday. Contact her at the church: 601-643-2749.