Sep 25 2013

The New Face of First United

By Hannah Dockery

Reverend Thomas Smith.

Reverend Thomas Smith.

The Little White Church in the Bend has a new pastor.

Known for its unwavering mission to give back go the local community, First United Methodist Church on the Isle of Palms recently welcomed a new face to steer the direction of the congregation. Reverend Thomas Smith joined the FUMC family towards the end of June, and is already finding a niche in the quaint little island community. “Right now I’m still getting to know the church, learning the people and learning the community,” Smith says. “But I already love it.”

Originally from Barnesville, Georgia, the young pastor attended Wofford College where he met his wife, Ellen. Afterwards, the couple lived in Greenville before moving on to Atlanta where Smith pursued his Master of Divinity from Emory University, graduating in 2004.

His career in ministry led him to serve two churches in Georgia before being relocated to the lowcountry. In the United Methodist church, Smith explains, bishops appoint pastors to serve in churches rather than the church handling their own individual hiring and firing process. “Yes, I was assigned to come here but it’s a place that I would have run towards anyway,” he says, enthusiastically.

A father of two, a boy and girl ages seven and nine, Smith has found that the transition to “living at the beach” has been an exciting process for his youngsters. Both enrolled at Sullivan’s Island Elementary School, the kids have already enjoyed field trips to Bulls Island to explore the coastal ecosystem, just two weeks into school. “They are loving it here,” he says.

Though Smith is just three months in, he is looking forward to continuing the good works that have remained a cornerstone of First United Methodist Church. For years, the church has sponsored several area nonprofit organizations including East Cooper Meals on Wheels and the Epworth Children’s Home.

From annual Fish Fry fundraisers to sending youth groups on mission trips across the globe, Smith wants FUMC to remain a place of worship that is continually making an impact. “I want to keep the momentum here going,” he says. “I want to be known in the community as a welcoming place, an open place, and a church that is making a difference.”

First United Methodist Church – IOP is located at the intersection of 21st Avenue and Palm Boulevard on the Isle of Palms. For more info, call 886-6610 or visit

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