Rev. Dr. Matt White, Senior Pastor
I grew up in Dublin, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Virginia, where I received an athletic scholarship to run on the cross country and track teams. I met my wife Teressa, who grew up in Hilliard, Ohio, when I was serving at a church in Westerville, Ohio. Teressa is the music teacher at Galaxy Elementary School, here in Boynton Beach. She loves to cook, sing, play piano, read, and walk. We have three children. Raines is a sophomore at Spanish River High School and enjoys basketball and running. Carina is an eighth grader at Christa McAuliffe Middle School, where she plays the French horn in band and runs track. Gracie is a fifth grader at Galaxy, and is very active in choir and strings. Our family likes to take excursions to our local beaches. I especially enjoy running, cycling, traveling and snorkeling.
Over the years, we have lived and served in various regions of the country. I have an M.A. in Christian Leadership, which I completed while I was a youth pastor in Ohio. When I was serving in central and southwest Florida, I was able to complete my Master of Divinity degree at Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando. I also was part of an Ed. D. in Pastoral Community Counseling program at the University of Sarasota, and finished my dissertation studies in Portland, Oregon. Our family was overjoyed to be selected to be a part of Asbury Theological Seminary Kentucky’s Beeson Pastor Fellowship, where I studied with 14 other pastors, visited some of the country’s fastest growing churches, and eventually earned my D. Min. in Christian Leadership and Preaching. For this dissertation, I studied America’s largest one hundred churches, and their usage of sports evangelism in the growth of their churches. Education is very important in our family, and we are constantly learning new things!
I served with New Church Development and pastored in Windermere, Florida, where our new church worked to reach out to our community through practical servant evangelism, doing things like free rummage sales, ice cream socials and free music lessons. When I was appointed to Faith
UMC in Boynton Beach, I was especially excited to see the opportunities that exist with the family life center. We now have hundreds of young people taking part in basketball programs here. As I look back on the 24 years that I have served in full time ministry, I am so grateful for all that God has done.
God has blessed us in giving us the opportunity to help unite some of the ministries of the two great Boynton Beach congregations. I truly believe that we are provided with an incredible gift, due to this new partnership, to serve one another and our community in new ways. God will give
us 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.” I am looking forward to getting to know you and hearing about your life and faith stories. Finally, I am viewing our future with great optimism and joy, and am eager to see all that the Lord will do in our midst.
Rev. Parker Bennett, Associate Pastor
My wife Ann and I are so blessed to be used by God in ministry with you here in Boynton Beach. I have lived in Boynton Beach since 2005 when Ann and I got married. Ann was born in Lakewood, Ohio and moved to Lake Worth in 1969; she attended Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, NC and then moved back to Lake Worth, then Lantana and then Boynton Beach.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and have been in South Florida since 1978. Ann and I have five daughters between us and six grandsons (six boys aged 6 – 13).
Recently I retired from my position as customer service manager of a machine company in Ft. Lauderdale after 27 years. I have been on staff part-time at Faith UMC for the past nine years and have been a certified candidate for ministry during this time. I completed licensing school at Florida Southern College this past spring and am very excited to begin serving as one of your Pastors along with Pastor Matt after being licensed and commissioned in Orlando this past June at Annual
I believe God has great plans for our congregation and I pray 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.
Anastasia Chandler, Preschool Director
Anastasia is the director of the Preschool, as well as an Alumni mom of two bright boys. She is a Palm Beach County native and is active in various community agencies in our area that support youth development. Anastasia received her A.A. from the University of Florida and studied Education and Creative Writing at FAU, where she received her B.A.
Anastasia came to the preschool in 2011 with a wealth of Child Care and Program Management experience, including five years as a Certified Director of Camp, Family Programming, and Team Sports for the YMCA of San Francisco and six years as an Early Childhood Enrichment Educator/ Consultant for various agencies in Boynton Beach. Because of a life spent in the Child Development field and her love for our preschool programs, she has a passion for finding every child's (and parent's) light and letting it shine!