A Gardendale church that has been rocked by tragedy this year has a new pastor, and his goal is for the church to move forward.

The Rev. Mike Pope has been named the head pastor of Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church, more than three months after the church’s former pastor, Terry Greer, was charged with murder and attempted murder. 

Pope is currently the senior pastor at Florence First United Methodist Church.

“I firmly believe it takes two things for healing to happen: Time, plus the Holy Spirit,” Pope said, adding that by the time he and his wife Susan arrive in June, the congregation will have had five months to heal.

“We have to have a vision about where the church needs to go from here,” said Pope, who is a former basketball coach. “In coaching, a lot of time you have to look forward; you press on. Scripture gives us those same encouraging words. It’s God’s will for Gardendale-Mt. Vernon to be stronger in the years to come.”

Pope has served as a Methodist pastor for 28 years, having served in west Jefferson County, Birmingham and Clay before being transferred to Florence.

The North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church had appointed Dr. Bill Bostick as interim pastor a week after police say  Greer shot his wife Lisa, 52, and daughter Suzanna, 18, on Jan. 10 at the church parsonage in Gardendale.

Lisa Greer died of her wounds and Suzanna has reportedly moved to another city.

Pope’s first Sunday behind the pulpit at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon will be Father’s Day; that is the day all Methodist churches in the conference will receive their new pastors.

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