A long-time and beloved north Jefferson pastor will say goodbye to his congregation this weekend.
Dr. Rudy Guess, pastor of Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church for 13 years, is swapping places with the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Decatur on June 17. Terry Greer, pastor of the Decatur church, will start his term in Gardendale on the same day.
Gardendale-Mt. Vernon broke the news to parishioners a few weeks ago.
“I think everyone is sad to see him go,” said Amy Sizemore, direc- tor of Gardendale-Mt. Vernon’s Children and Community Ministries. Sizemore has also been a church member for more than seven years.
However, she and other staff members said they will welcome Greer.
Greer and Guess have been friends for 30 years, as they both serve in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Greer himself welcomes his new appointment.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. Greer vis- ited the Gardendale church 25 years ago, when he had been a Methodist minister for only five years and was leading a church of 40 worshippers.
Greer said he always knew that he would someday like to serve in such a big and beautiful church.
“It’s very surreal for me. In my mind I’ve always had a little tug toward Gardendale-Mt. Vernon,” he said.
Greer said he and his wife are both looking forward to moving to Gardendale because they both have strong ties to Birmingham. He was once a minister in Birmingham and she graduated from Birmingham- Southern College.
“We have a network of friends there,” he said.
The Greers have a daughter, Suzanna, who just graduated from Decatur High School. She will be moving to Gardendale too, and will possibly start college in the fall at the University of South Alabama.
Greer said he has no big plans in mind for Gardendale right off the bat.
“I think the best change, coming in at first, is no change,” he said.
In Gardendale, Guess has guided the church in growth from about 400 to more than 700. He also over- saw the tremendous growth of the church’s preschool, the Child Enrichment Center, which has 360 children enrolled.
Guess said he will miss the peo- ple with whom he’s built relation- ships in Gardendale since 1999, particularly a prayer group he meets for breakfast at 6 a.m. once a week.
“That support group — I will miss that definitely,” he said. “But there will be another one emerge (in Decatur).”