New Alabaster Methodist pastor ‘hitting the ground running’

New Alabaster First United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Sherry Harris has plans to grow the church's role in the community. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

New Alabaster First United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Sherry Harris has plans to grow the church’s role in the community. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

New Alabaster First United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Sherry Harris hadn’t even had a chance to fully set up her office and conference room before she was making plans to help those in need in the city.

“Right now, we are asking ‘Where are there places of need here in our community? Where can we make the biggest impact?’” Harris said on her third day on the job at Alabaster First United Methodist on June 17. “We want to be as high-profile as we can in the community.”

Harris’ first day at the church came on Fathers Day, and she chose an appropriate message to share with her congregation during her inaugural sermon at the church.

“We are in the middle of a three-part sermon series on change,” Harris said. “This church wasn’t anticipating a clergy move, so it took them by surprise. Some people are understandably sad about it.

“We follow a God of change. If you follow Jesus, you sign up for change,” Harris said.

Harris succeeded Brian Erickson as the senior pastor at the Alabaster church off Alabama 119.

During the conference’s 2014 annual meeting, North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett appointed Erickson as the new senior pastor at Homewood’s Trinity United Methodist Church.

Wallace-Padgett also appointed Harris, formerly the senior pastor at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Decatur, as the new senior pastor in Alabaster.

“Wesley Memorial is considered a mid-size Methodist church with about 450 members. So Alabaster is sort of a jump,” Harris said, noting Alabaster is about twice the size of the Decatur church.

Even though her new church home is much larger than her previous one, Harris said the transition has been seamless because of the work Erickson did while he was there.

“I feel like the most blessed person on the planet. Brian is a truly gifted minister, and he really paved the way for me here,” Harris said. “My immediate goal is to listen to the congregation and learn more about them.

“Alabaster is a lovely place, and we are hitting the ground running,” Harris added.