by Pastor Jim
It’s been a joy for me to serve as your Interim Pastor for the last seven months, and I shall always remember our time together with great fondness.
The North Georgia Annual Conference will begin on June 11th at the Classic Center in Athens and on June 13th Rev. John Merk will officially be appointed as the Pastor of Lithia Springs United Methodist Church. In preparation for his arrival let me share with you a brief bio of your new pastor:
Rev. John Merk was baptized and confirmed in The United Methodist Church, but has worshiped as a member of other Christian churches, and for a period of time attended no church at all. After moving to Cumming, GA with his wife, Billi, and two children he began attending Creekside UMC after being invited by a neighbor. At Creekside, he became involved in the worship ministry there, and later became a Lay Speaker.
John was working as a Software Engineer for Bellsouth when he was reminded of his call to ordained ministry. That call came originally many years before during his Confirmation as a teenager. John enrolled first at Asbury Seminary online, but finished his degree at Candler in 2006 on a Sherman Scholarship. He has served at Shiloh UMC-Cumming, Hickory Flat UMC, and most recently at Dawnville UMC in Dalton, GA. John believes that the Church is meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus until He returns, and the local church should be thought of as an outpost within the mission field. While at Dawnville, John began a food pantry at the church, and got them started in the Family Promise program which hosts families on the verge of homelessness within the church building.
Additionally, as a participant in the Institute for Clergy Excellence, John visited churches in mission to their communities in San Francisco, CA as well as throughout the country of Brazil. He says, “The message of God’s love and grace, freely available to all who will receive, is best proffered while meeting basic human needs where people are. Christ proclaimed the Kingdom had come near, as He healed, comforted, or fed, as circumstances called for. And we are truly blessed as we bless others.”
John and Billi Merk have been married for 25 years this past August. They are the parents of a daughter, Charli who is 23, and son Cameron, who is 18. They are grandparents of Charli’s son, Xander who recently turned 1. The whole Merk family will be moving to Lithia Springs, including their 14 year old cat, Mr. Sparky.
Rev. Merk is eager to begin ministry with all God’s people at Lithia Springs UMC on June 30! Blessings!