Pastor Marie Mitchell
Where did you come from?
Before becoming Senior Pastor of The Woods UMC in July 2014, I served as the Associate Pastor at the First United Methodist Church, Duncanville. While there, I preached the Crossroads Contemporary service as Pastoral Care Pastor. I also worked closely with the Partners in Prayer Ministry and the Hospitality Ministry.
Why did you become a Pastor?
I truly believe that God has a sense of humor. That can only explain why I am in ministry today. Born and raised in Wichita Falls, TX, my four siblings and I were not brought up in a church. But, I do remember attending a Vacation Bible School when I was a young school aged girl there. It was there that I first heard the story of Zacchaeus, the hated tax collector in Luke’s gospel. It was impressed on me that Jesus loved him and reached out to him while others looked down on him as a sinner and cheat. An encounter with Jesus turned his life around, transformed him. Did Jesus love me, too, I wanted to know?
I still did not join church until my third decade of life. I understand how those who are unchurched feel or how those who’ve been hurt while in organized religion can be turned off and want to give up. But all of those years, the story of Zacchaeus, and most importantly, the love of Christ for all people, stayed in my heart as I searched for truth and my own self worth. I found it in 1985 after hearing a sermon entitled, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” (Yes, the glorious Tina Turner hit song!) But the message was clear: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) No wonder they call John’s gospel the gospel of light and life! I felt so loved! Not because of me. I knew I fell short, missed the mark so much. But because of God’s grace, God’s unmerited favor for me and all humanity.
I wanted to share the unconditional love of Christ with the world! Nine years later, I was called into ordained ministry. I took an early retirement from Southwestern Bell Telephone after 21 years to begin the road to ministry where I could be used as God’s vessel to branch out with the love of Christ! Here I am!
I was ordained an Elder of the United Methodist Church in June 2010 in the city of Wichita Falls, the place of my birth. One might say that I have come full circle.
Love has Everything to do with it. The love of Christ is amazing!
What do you see as the future for this Community?
There is much I see in the future for this Community as The Woods UMC continues to branch out. My prayer is that we will be a close knit community and that the church will again take its rightful place as a beacon of light to those in need. Whether families seek a place of worship, prayer, suffering a Crisis, resources in raising children or finding a place for other needs, we want to be at the forefront to support in any way we can.
I believe we have a great future to be a strong, vibrant and growing community.The Woods UMC seeks to be a place of grace that offers hope to all peoples.
We want to continue to ‘branch out’ in many areas that the presence and power of Christ Jesus will be realized.
What do you do in your free time?
I spend much of my free time with my grandson, Jaz Dwayne, 7, who is a great joy in my life. He loves to play basketball and go shopping and eating with “Granny Ree” and his mom, my daughter, Danielle.
I also love going to movies, community theatre and to restaurants with my friends. I am an ‘unofficial coach’ and ‘armchair quarterback’ of the Dallas Cowboys (roles I take seriously!). I do love to read anything I can get my hands on….and I really love, now and again, taking a good, long nap.
What does your relationship with God mean to you and your family?
My relationship with God has given my life much meaning. Before I joined church at age 32, often I felt empty, like something was missing. Only in being baptized and growing in my relationship with God in Christ, have I come to know the meaning of joy and acceptance and hope. Being a member of the body of Christ has given me another ‘family’ to be a part of…to share in the joys and in the trials. My family knows that in any situation God is present, in control and has promised that the Master will always be with us and provide for our needs. In light of that, I have more strength and my faith in God has grown tremendously. We can never imagine what God can do in us and through us when we turn over the reins and give up control. God is awesome!