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New day at an established church

In the pulpit

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POSTED: April 3, 2007 5:14 a.m.
He has served as the pastor of the Hinesville First United Methodist Church for almost a year and is enjoying the assignment. Prior to relocating to Hinesville, Pastor R. Douglas Force served as pastor of the St. Mary’s Road United Methodist Church in Columbus. He has also served as pastor of Asbury United Methodist in Savannah and various other churches.
Force has been in the ministry for 42 years, as a pastor for 30. He traveled extensively with his uncle who was in the military. “I spent my formulative years with my uncle. I have been to just about every island, British Columbia, France, Fort Knox Fort Polk, Fort Dix, and various other places.”
He is excited about his pastorship and has great plans and expectations. “We have to work to build relationships and the community,” Force said. “We want to reach out to the whole community, and build a beloved community of trust, respect and nurturing. We must bring the good news to the people.”
He is one of only two black pastors in the Southeast to serve predominately white United Methodist Church congregations. Pastor Force describes himself as a “bridge builder,” someone to bridge the gap.
Hinesville’s FUMC has a warm and caring congregation. Members desire to maintain a close fellowship with each other as they seek to discover and carry out God’s will for their lives, the church and community.
The church has Sunday school classes for each age group, nursery through adult, as well as weekly Bible studies. Youth ministries meet weekly. There is also a United Methodist Women’s organization and a chapter of the United Methodist Men. Also, the church has adult (Chancel), contemporary (The Barnabas Project), youth and children’s choirs, as well as hand bell choirs and outreach ministries.
“Howard Thurman once said, ‘If you can change, everybody else can change.’ If we are good examples, then we can make a difference in others lives,” the pastor said.
His advice to ministers and pastors is to be authentic. “Be an ambassador for Christ, reconciling people to Christ. As we reconcile people, we build communities.”
Force says one of the most memorable moments in his life occurred when an “old man” saved his life. “He was someone you least expected. His comments literally changed my life around.” Force credits other individuals such as Mattie Moon, Roy Morrison and Ulysses Byas as impacting his life in a profound manner. “I was blessed to have these great people in my life. Byas was instrumental in sending many young people to college.”
Force has worked as a social worker with the Veterans’ Administration. He attended seminary at age 20 and has a master’s of divinity from American University. He enjoys singing, writing, fishing, cycling, and golfing. “I used to play the guitar, piano, French horn, and trombone.” He also serves on the Manna House Board and spends time visiting the nursing homes.
Pastor Force has been married to Elaina Burton Force for 13 years. They are the proud parent of one daughter, Arianna, 7. Elaina Force is an occupational therapist at Liberty Regional Medical Center. They live in Hinesville.
 

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