PERRY -- There were only 20 homes in Perry in 1826 when whats now Perry United Methodist Church was founded.
The Rev. Brad Brady has been senior pastor at Perry UMC since Fathers Day 2013. He said the early Methodist churchs first building was finished in 1827 near Evergreen Cemetery west of downtown.
Out of that building, he said Perrys first Baptist church was organized in 1838 and the Presbyterian church had initial meetings in 1847.
It shows we started out very community-oriented and have continued that way, Brady said. As I understand it, the present building downtown was begun in 1860 and not completed until after the Civil War. The church bell was ordered and cast in New York in 1866, so it would have been around then the building was finished.
Brady said the church began as part of a pastoral circuit. Records show it was on a circuit in 1885 sharing a pastor with churches at Henderson, Sandy Run and with Andrew Chapel, now Andrew UMC on Ga. 127.
In 1922, Brady said the congregation became a station church, meaning it was a standalone church with its own minister.
Several missionaries have come out of this church and served across the world, Brady said. Its been a strong church in Methodism in Georgia with a number of conference lay leaders coming from here.
Brady said the churchs commitment to community has led to ongoing service to neighbors in need through partnerships with Perry Volunteer Outreach and ministries such as Brian Bowens Snax Sax. Through Snax Sax, Perry UMC provides 350-plus weekend meals for children during the school year.
Brady said Perry UMC is involved with Operation Christmas Child and water filtration efforts in Latin America through ERSLA, Emergency Response Services for Latin America, led by Houston County native Rodney McDonald.
Brady said another growing ministry at the church serves residents at the VA hospital in Dublin. He said the church wants to reflect dimensions Jesus spoke of in Matthew concerning caring for the least of these.
Perry United Methodist plays a big role in the lives of people who go here, he said. In some places, people are hardly engaged in life of their church. Here, the church -- and more particularly peoples faith -- is central to their lives as is their spiritual walk together.
Brady said as members grow as disciples of Jesus, its important they discover their talents and spiritual gifts and learn to use them to further Gods work of redemption.
Weve built on whats been strong here all along, he said. That is, awakening gifts in people and finding where they can use them. Centerstage for Christ is an example of people with great creative gifts from God using them to be a blessing. Others are great working with children or youth and others are good with their hands and love to serve practically. Its a gift-based way of ministering and makes ministry very hands-on and rewarding.
From Statesboro, Brady earned a degree in education from whats now Armstrong Atlantic State University and completed a master of divinity degree at Candler School of Theology at Emory University and doctor of ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago.
He has served pastoral appointments in Macon, Epworth/Akin, Statesboro and elsewhere as well as conference positions. As a teacher and pastor, he said hes dedicated to making disciples and the concept of shalom.
What gets me up each morning is, How can I be part of restoring shalom in some way as Gods minister, Brady said. The concept of shalom goes back to creation and Gods first reaction to it as being very good. Of course, sin spoiled it, but Jesus is the ultimate intervention of God to move us back to shalom which does mean peace, but more than that it also means well-being, harmony, interdependence, beauty, abundance and much more.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.