Rev. Dr. Jonathan Smith has been appointed Pastor at Pittman Park United Methodist Church, effective June 15. He will be replacing Rev. Bill Bagwell who is retiring after nine years of service at the church and a 40-year career in ministry.
A Georgia Southern connection
Pittman Park is located across from Georgia Southern University. The campus community has been important to the church since its founding in 1956. Dr. Smith is especially equipped to continue that legacy having spent the last seven years as a campus minister for Georgia Southern students at the Wesley Foundation. He was once a student on campus himself, receiving an undergraduate degree in History in 2004.
A pair of Pastors
Smith brings unique connections to his new role at Pittman Park. His wife, Rev. Stephanie Smith, is the Executive Pastor at Statesboro First UMC, the county’s largest United Methodist congregation. Smith says it serves the whole community well when churches can communicate and work together.
Even more remarkable than his relationship to the Statesboro and Georgia Southern community might be Smith’s relationship to Pittman Park itself. He had been away from Statesboro for several years when he received an appointment in 2010 to be Associate Pastor at Pittman Park. That first interaction with the church became a memorable one because, before he was able to begin work there, a tumor was discovered on the third ventricle of his brain, and he underwent three months of treatment and recovery. Throughout that difficult time, Smith remembers being showered with visits and cards and food from a church that barely knew him. He says, “Their hospitality was an example of how every church should be, but they really lived it. They loved me well.”
The pull of Pittman Park
Smith spent five years at the church, then, as he left for Wesley, Stephanie became Pittman Park’s new Associate Pastor. Between the two pastors, the Smith family was at Pittman Park for nine years before moving on in 2019. Goodbye wasn’t for long, though. In 2021, as Smith continued his work at the Wesley Foundation, he was asked to step in to help the church prepare for the retirement of Bagwell. He was happy to help, but did not know he would be chosen as the new Pastor until the announcement was official in early April.
For all his unique connections and qualifications, Smith’s ambition for the future of the church is simple. He says, “I’m for Jesus, I’m for people, and I’m for community.”
He adds, “I want to be a part of what God wants to do at Pittman Park and in Statesboro.”