Forest First UMC welcomes the Harper family

cropped_7L2A0458With a passion for seeing all the amazing ways God will be at work at First United Methodist Church of Forest, the church welcomes Rev. Trey Harper and his family on June 22.

“Everyone who has met Bro. Trey has fallen in love with him,” said Mary Jones, chair of the pastor-parish relations committee for Forest’s First United Methodist Church. “We are really excited about him and his whole family being part of our church family.”

Rev. Harper and his wife, Heather, recently served Eupora’s First United Methodist Church for seven years. The Harpers moved to Eupora following six years of serving multiple small rural churches in Carroll and Leflore counties. They have four children, including John, 11, Josh, 11, Lucy, 9, and Ben, 4.

Rev. Harper is originally from Indianola and graduated high school from Indianola Academy. He graduated from the Mississippi University for Women, then received his seminary degree from Emory University.

“As with any move, there is the excitement of building new relationships, and see all the amazing ways God will work in our ministry together,” Harper said. “There is also something to be said for new beginnings. New beginnings and possibilities always come laden with excitement. And we are also excited about setting down new roots. We intend to make a Forest our home, and look forward to growing and serving with the church and the community.”

As the Episcopal Leader of the Mississippi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church since 2012, Bishop James Swanson Sr., said he has grown to appreciate Rev. Trey Harper’s leadership.

“Trey exhibits leadership that is both administrative and pastoral in style,” Swanson said. “He is able to lead … with both ‘Heart and Mind.’  After only a few moments with Trey you can grasp his high intellect as well as the compassion he has for others.”

Bishop Swanson said Harper has lead Eupora First United Methodist Church over the past seven years to become an even more hospitable church that “welcomes persons of all ages and all walks in life.”

“When I preached at (Eupora’s First United Methodist Church recently, I was impressed by the various ages of parishioners and how engaged the laity is in the life of their church,” Bishop Swanson said. “Rev. Harper has done an excellent job of helping the members obtain a God-centered vision and mission that they live out in their community and around the world.”
In addition to his service to his local church and community, Bishop Swanson said Harper also serves as the secretary of the Mississippi Annual Conference.

“In this role, he again exhibits great leadership that we in the Mississippi Annual Conference have grown to depend on.,” Swanson said. “We are truly blessed by Rev. Harper’s leadership in our Annual Conference.”

Embra Jackson, Starkville district superintendent for the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, said Harper is a great leader, not only for his church, but for the annual conference and his local community.

“He leads by example and is a great spiritual leader,” Jackson said. “He is comfortable being the minister of young children, teenagers, young adults, middle age adults and more seasoned persons. Under Trey’s leadership Eupora First membership has increased, particularly for families with young children. Under his leadership the church as also become more involved in their local community and throughout the Mississippi Annual Conference, as evidenced by the church’s recent involvement in the relief efforts related to the tornadoes that impacted Winston County. We will miss Trey, in this district but we know that he will continue to provide great leadership in his next pastoral appointment. We wish the best for Trey and his family as they go forth.”


See this story in the June 18, 2014 edition of The Scott County Times at

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