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Christmas cheer: Pastor celebrates first Christmas at Methodist church

This is the first Christmas season Harold Manning will spend with the congregation in Picayune.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

This is the first Christmas season Harold Manning will spend with the congregation in Picayune.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


Once again the sanctuary of Picayune’s United Methodist Church is adorned with the spirit of the holiday.
Last month, the church was decorated to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and the church’s food drive.
A walk inside the building today will allow guests to find each window embellished with garlands. Nativities in the windowsills and a Chrismon ornament tree.
The Chrismon tree features ornaments, that symbolize Christ.
The ornaments are handmade by the United Methodist Women, member Linda Hancock said.
“Some of those ornaments are more than 60 years old,” Hancock said. “Each year, as the tree is decorated, hearts are touched and tears are shed as the women remember the mothers and grandmothers who made the ornaments.”
Near the front of the church is a little angel tree. Each ornament bears the name of the children that were born into the church’s family this year, Hancock said. After Christmas, parents receive the ornament as a keepsake.
Along with Christmas, the congregation will also celebrate their first holiday season with Pastor Harold Manning.
Manning moved to the Picayune church in June.
In the Methodist faith, there are three different pastoral levels: Part-time local, full-time local and elder.
Part-time and full-time are not ordained, Manning said, but the elders are. Each pastor receives an appointment once a year, which means sometimes they will stay at the same church or be moved to another location.
Manning was born and raised on a farm in Sunflower County Mississippi, which is considered the Delta.
He is a graduate of Moorhead High School. After graduation he attended Mississippi Delta Community College where he majored in history. He attended grad school at Louisiana State University where he earned his masters degree in history.
He taught social studies in Greenville, Indianola and Mississippi Delta Community College.
In 2000, Manning said he felt the calling to become a minister. He attended seminary and has ministered in Marshall, DeSoto, Itawamba, Hinds and Pearl River Counties.
Manning said any minister can look back and remember when they first felt the call to become a minister.
“You get to a point in time where you are aware and give in,” Manning said.
He is married to Teresa, who is an RN at the State Department of Health in the licensing and certification division. The couple has three children and eight grandchildren.
Manning said one of the things he likes about Pearl River County is its proximity to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
“The people are very gracious here,” Manning said. “Since I’ve been here, they have been open and responsive.”
Manning said his favorite part about being a minister is working and interacting with the people.
When he’s not ministering, he enjoys theater work including acting, directing and writing.
“For me,” Manning said. “My favorite part about Christmas is the effort undertaken by myself to lead people to experience Jesus Christ in this hectic time of the year.”