From army to dance, Christ Central’s new pastor has a unique journey

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Harry d butler

Newly assigned pastors from the Northern Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church will preach their first sermons in new pulpits Sunday. Reverend Mark Williams has been assigned to Christ Central Church in Rainbow City – and his journey is unique.

First, he joined the United States Army in 1981 at the age of 20 and served for six years, primarily with the 101st, then for a time as an infantry non-commissioned officer at the Old Fort McClellan near Anniston. “I thank God for all the services in peacetime,” he said.

Upon completion of his enlistment, Williams worked at the Victoria Inn (now known as The Finial) in Anniston and held a few other short-term jobs. Then, in 1989, his life took a different turn as he began a career as a dance teacher at the Fred Astaire Studios in Huntsville.

Two years later, he got married. He and his wife bought a Fred Astaire Studio in Hot Springs, Arkansas, then went independent and owned Dancenter Dance Studio from 1997 to 2011.

After responding to the call to preach in 2001, and serving as a youth leader and pastor in several Arkansas churches, the Williams moved to Huntsville, where he began to serve on the staff of St. Paul UMC. Later, as pastor of Harbor UMC in Meridianville, he continued to teach ballroom dancing as a hobby and at STEM Christian Academy to grades 8 to 12, about 20 children.

Williams said he found his strength in “preaching, ministering, starting a new ministry, the ability to delegate authority and to hold the local body of Christ accountable.” All this is a gift of love from God!

Dowdy ends his ministry

Reverend Bridget Dowdy

A Christian ministry that began 34 years ago for Reverend Bridget Dowdy 34 years ago ended on June 30 as she retired from a dual pastorship of United Methodist churches in Steele and Walnut Grove. Both churches are in the UMC Mountain Lakes District of UMC’s North Alabama conference.

Dowdy began as a part-time youth director at her home church in Alabaster, Shelby County; this evolved into another part-time job as a church secretary before a full-time youth director position opened.

She said she really enjoyed working with young people – calling him “my first love” – but later felt a deeper calling and was allowed to preach in 2015.

His replacement will be the Reverend Donnie Patterson, who has served the Marshall UM County churches in Asbury and Dutton. He begins his new preaching appointments on Sundays.

Dowdy will now worship with the Rainbow City First UMC congregation, where her husband, Reverend Dee Dowdy. is a pastor.


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