Rev. Dr. Matt White, Senior Pastor
From Dublin, Ohio, Pastor Matt White graduated from the University of Virginia where he received an athletic scholarship to run on the school's cross country and track teams. He met his wife Teressa, who grew up in Hilliard, Ohio, when he was serving at a church in Westerville, Ohio. Teressa is the music teacher at Galaxy Elementary School, in Boynton Beach, and loves to cook, sing, play piano, read, and walk. Of their three children, Raines is a student at the University of Florida and enjoys basketball and running; Carina attends Spanish River High School and loves spending time with her cat, Aria when she's home; and, Gracie, who also attends Spanish River High, is very active in choir. The entire family likes taking excursions to the local beaches, and Pastor Matt still especially enjoys running and also cycling, traveling and snorkeling.
Over the years, the family has lived and served in various regions across the country. Pastor Matt has an M.A. in Christian Leadership, which he completed while serving as the youth pastor in Ohio. He completed his Master of Divinity degree at Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando while serving in central and southwest Florida. Additionally, he has an Ed. D. in Pastoral Community Counseling program from the University of Sarasota, and finished his dissertation studies in Portland, Oregon.
His family was overjoyed when Pastor Matt was selected to be a part of the Asbury Theological Seminary Kentucky’s Beeson Pastor Fellowship, where he studied with fourteen other pastors, visited some of the country’s fastest growing churches, and eventually earned his D. Min. in Christian Leadership and Preaching. For this dissertation, he studied America’s largest one hundred churches, and their usage of sports evangelism in the growth of their churches. Education is very important within the White family, and they are constantly learning new things!
As he ministered in New Church Development in Windermere, Florida, the church focused on reaching out to the community through practical servant evangelism, doing things like free rummage sales, ice cream socials and free music lessons. When appointed to Faith UMC in Boynton Beach, Pastor Matt grew excited at the opportunities that existed with the family life center, which now serves hundreds of young people who take part in the basketball programs.
In the summer of 2016, Pastor Matt began serving as Senior Pastor at First UMC of Boynton Beach, seeking to unite First UMC and Faith UMC. Looking back over the years that he has served in full time ministry, Pastor Matt is so grateful for all that God has done. He truly believes that this partnership is an incredible gift, giving us the ability to serve one another and our community in new ways. He believes that God will give the strength and energy to carry out His Great Commission. As it says in Isaiah 40:31: “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Pastor Matt is always welcome to meet new guests, as well as maintaining relationships with long term members. He looks forward to getting to know you and hearing about your life and faith stories. He also views our future with great optimism and joy, and is eager to see all that the Lord will do in our midst.
Rev. Parker Bennett, Associate Pastor
Pastor Parker Bennett and his wife Ann are so blessed to be used by God in ministry here in Boynton Beach. He has lived in Boynton Beach since 2005 when he and Ann married. Ann, who was born in Lakewood, Ohio moved to Lake Worth in 1969. After high school, she attended Mars Hill University in North Carolina, then returned to Lake Worth, then Lantana and then Boynton Beach.
Pastor Parker was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and has been in South Florida since 1978. Ann and he have five daughters between us and six grandsons. Recently he retired from his position as the customer service manager of a machine company in Ft. Lauderdale after 27 years.
He began serving part-time at Faith UMC in 2007, during which time he became a certified candidate for ministry. He completed licensing school at Florida Southern College in the spring of 2016, and has been very excited to serve as a Pastor, along with Pastor Matt, after becoming licensed and commissioned in Orlando in June 2016, at the Annual Conference.
Pastor Parker believes God has great plans for our congregation and prays that we will all walk with Him as He guides us to share the good news and shine our light to bless others wherever we go.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” -2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)
Tom Bates, Organist/Choir Director
Tom Bates joined the staff of First UMC in the spring of 2014 as Organist/choir director. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Newberry College and graduate studies in voice from Jacksonville University and University of Miami in Florida. Other professional pursuits include his work as a singer, guest conductor, workshop clinician and teacher for such organizations as the American Choral Directors Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, and Texas Music Educators Association. Mr. Bates has been involved with church music for over 35 years.
Mr. Bates has worked in Methodist churches for most of his musical career. His love for the classics and old hymns is what keeps him going. He loves the beach and outdoor activities.
Brenda Wood, Church Secretary
Brenda Wood is originally from New Jersey, but has been in Florida since 1993, and is the mother to three beautiful daughters. She grew up attending church every Sunday, and has attended Faith UMC since 1998. Over the years there, she spent many hours helping out with the children’s and youth programs, as well as various other ministries of the church such as the Holy Hands sign language ministry.
When asked what her favorite job to date has been, her answer is “working as a church secretary.” So she is beyond happy to be working once again in a church environment. She looks forward to meeting the church members, and helping in any way that she can.
Brenda is also serving as the Children Ministry Director, and looks forward to helping our youngest attendees make a connection with each other and with God. Some of her own favorite memories while attending the First United Methodist Church of Clinton, NJ were of the friendships and fun she had in Sunday school and Children’s Church, and hopes to create the same type of atmosphere.
In her spare time, she loves watching TV with her family, reading and writing, and doing “crafty creations!”
Norma Ashley, Treasurer
Norma Ashley is a native Floridian who majored in accounting at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She received her MBA at Palm Beach Atlantic, and worked as a staff accountant for a CPA firm in Cleveland and has been controller for Palm Beach Pathology for 34 years. A member of First UMC and the choir since 2013, she has also sung in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus under Robert Shaw.
She loves spending time with her sons and their families: Dr. Carl, Marie and Ian, who live in Mount Olive, NC and Craig, Carmen, Ellie and Emily, who live in Boca Raton.
She has been playing piano for churches since high school and is delighted to be able to continue this at FUMC.