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New pastor in town
Rich Wright taking over at First United Methodist
0710 Ruth  Rich Wright
Pastor Richard and Ruth Wright - photo by Photo provided.
Pastor Richard “Rich” Wright has been in town for only three weeks, but he’s already enjoying his new assignment.  
Wright is the new pastor of the Hinesville First United Methodist Church. Before coming to Hinesville, he served as a pastor in Lakeland.  He has been an ordained minister for 12 years and also has served as a pastor in Columbus. Wright was president of the United Ministerial Alliance for two years during his time in Lakeland.
“This is my fifth church,” he said.
The new pastor is excited to be a part of our community.  
“The people are caring and very loyal, both at church and in the community. Members are energized and excited about the direction of the church,” Wright said. “It is refreshing to see how hospitable people are to the military community.”
Wright served 15 years in the military, enlisted and as an officer. He is a combat veteran, having completed deployments in Panama, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.  He came to Fort Stewart in the 1980s to do National Guard evaluations for South Carolina.
Wright said he wants to empower lay people to be the ministers God wants them to be.  
“I seek to have the gospel of Christ proclaimed so we can apply it to our lives and make disciples for Christ. I am inspired to see God’s promise being manifested within creation and humanity,” he said.
Some of the ministries at Hinesville First United Methodist include pre-school, youth, children, nursery, mission, musical, outreach to military, prayer and the Methodist children’s home.  
“Members are actively evangelizing,” the pastor said. “We have the NOW (Nurture Outreach Witness) ministry, visitation, special Sunday events to recognize different groups and we encourage members to invite people.
“The youth group has the largest amount of growth.  We have a pre-school with a Christian curriculum.  The church sponsors special events with the kids, so they can share the gospel with family and friend.”  
Wright said one of his greatest moments as a pastor occurred when a 78-year-old businessman who was in the adult entertainment business came forward and made his profession of faith.  
“He got rid of his businesses and dedicated himself to being a minister of the gospel,” Wright said.
John Wesley, Dr. H. Eddie Fox and Dr. George Morris have impacted Wright’s ministry in a significant manner.  
“It has been a blessing to be under the tutelage of Dr. Fox and Dr. Morris at the World Methodist Evangelism Institute. They inspired me to be an evangelistic pastor.”  
He  is currently working on his doctorate of ministry in evangelism and mission with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas. Wright expects to get his degree in November.
“My dissertation was written on the subject, ‘ministry with inactive members,’ ” Wright said.
The pastor’s advice to ministers is to stay true to God’s calling in their life.  
“There are times in the ministry that it gets tough, both professionally and personally.  Lots of pastors write their resignation, but then remember God’s calling in their life.  Pastors need to know they are not in the ministry by themselves. There are other ministers to talk with,” he said.
Wright and his wife Ruth have one daughter, Rebecca, who is a student at Columbus State University.  The Wrights have been married for 23 years. Ruth works with Blue Cross Blue Shield. The pastor enjoys golfing and writing.  He is the author of “Salvation Simplified,” which was published in 2001.
“We are excited about what God is doing and invite others to come and share,” Wright said.
Hinesville First United Methodist has approximately 200 people in attendance on Sundays and they hope to double that number soon.
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