St. Paul's United Methodist Church
Thursday, May 19, 2022



We invite you to worship with us each Sunday!
You will be warmly welcomed as you experience
the love and the grace of God through our
Sunday worship services and teaching.



 Regular Worship Services

St. Paul’s UMC has resumed its 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM in-person worship schedule. Services will continue to be live streamed. The Church building will also be open to all meetings and groups.


The services will be livestreamed and will be

made available via internet on YouTube 



The folks of St. Paul’s offer worship in which we honor tradition, are challenged with the Christian journey, celebrate the Word and share our stories in the intimate setting that is St. Paul's Church. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to worship for the Children’s Celebration at each service. If you and your family are searching for meaningful worship and discipleship, join us for these opportunities to explore your faith. St. Paul’s is a spiritual home for people of all ages and backgrounds and for families, traditional and non-traditional, where creativity and passion for the Gospel flourish and we are bound by the love of God that draws us together.
April 26, 2022
Greetings Church Family,
Happy Eastertide! The season of Lent and Easter have been reflective, joyous and transformative. I am so gracious and pleased with the many congregants, family and friends who participated, contributed and or prayed for the various Holy Week/Easter activities that included: the Joint Ash Wednesday Service, the Joint Good Friday Service (Seven Last Words), the Stations of the Cross Good Friday Pray Walk, the Youth Mission Yard Clean up at the Buckworth's, the Easter Sunrise Service at the Buckworth's and the 11:00 Sunday Morning Resurrection Service.
These were amazing opportunities in which the entire St. Paul's UMC family were able to spiritually connect with God and each other. We are continuing to witness the Spirit guiding and directing our parish in different, new, and exciting ways. This simply has not been an easy time to do ministry. Social distancing, mask wearing, vaccinations, and testing have been the things we had to do to maintain safety. Yet, God has been bigger, stronger and greater than any stumbling block that has come our way. God is continuing to use St. Paul’s Church to train pastors, train laity, transform lives and lead others to a loving and saving relationship with Jesus Christ. July 1, 2022 will mark Pastor Nancee Bleistine’s first full year of ministry as the pastor of Ebenezer UMC. During this time, Nancee has collaborated with St. Paul’s with her Card Ministry, and other joint Church activities and services. During Lent both churches joined to celebrate Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We are so proud of her growth and progress as a pastoral leader.
I am also elated that our own Pastor Samuel Harrell will serve as pastor of Bethesda UMC on Main Street in Middletown, DE beginning July 1. Pastor Sam has worked hard to become a certified candidate for the Ministry, and it has been an honor for St. Paul's UMC family to support his call and journey to Pastoral Leadership. St. Paul's UMC is also pleased to announce its newest lay servants, Melissa Brooks and Mark Holden. Melissa recently completed the beginners course work of the lay academy. She will complete the advance coursework this upcoming Spring. Melissa is active in the bell choir, as a liturgist, and is technology support, as well as substitute facilitator for the Adult Sunday School. Mark Holden continues to use his gift of art in providing original photo slides to bless our Sunday Morning worship experiences. Along with serving on the previous and upcoming preaching rotation, he is providing monthly educational opportunities for our congregation to better understand issues that will be of importance at the General Conference of 2025. Our recent speakers have been Rev. Jennifer Kerby, Rev. Kelly Conner, and the Rev. Dr. H. Ward Greer. Our upcoming presenters will be Rev. Karin Tunnell, Rev. Amy Yarnall, Rev. Patti Collett Ravilious and Rev. Dr. Bo & Rev. Dr. Vickie Gordy-Stith.
Despite a few obstacles, beyond our control, St. Paul's UMC was very successful in hosting this year’s conference-wide Safe Sanctuaries Training. Safe Sanctuary Training Cards are presently being distributed to all in-person and virtual participants. A new Care Team, led by the incoming Pastor Linda Ray, will continue those best practices that insure a safe environment for children and the most vulnerable. This will include but not limited to background checks for all staff, volunteers and persons working with youth and children. Appointed Pastors, who are considered members and employees of the Annual Conference, will continue to receive their periodic extensive background checks through the conference and Board of Ordained Ministry. I am personally grateful to Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, Superintendent Joseph Archie, Instructor Jim Kells, and facilitator Rev. Alice Johnson-Irving for making this necessary training possible and available to the various local churches. This training was helpful in providing the necessary tools for local churches to provide and maintain safe environments for everyone who enters through the door.
And I am so proud of how Adrienne Dillard is progressing in becoming a Certified Ministry Candidate. She recently completed the required conference group mentor training and is anticipating a Fall interview with the District Committee on Ministry.
I, along with Administrative Assistant, Bonnie Valeski, have met with incoming Pastor Linda Driver Ray to bring her up to date with our day-to-day operation and activities. The SPRC team and a special SPRC committee will also meet virtually with Pastor Linda to provide additional support as she makes her transition to the St. Paul's UMC community. St. Paul’s UMC is also excited about the recent appointment of Pastor Sam Harrell to Bethesda United Methodist Church in Middletown, DE.
When it comes to Missions, St. Paul's always comes through. In fact, St. Paul's goes over and beyond through its weekly Yellow Hat giving. Various congregants have been diligent in their volunteering and support of Our Daily Bread, Neighborhood House, and Deep Roots also. Even in the midst of this continuing pandemic, Charlotte Miller has been very helpful in organizing various Mission Projects for the Youth.
The St. Paul's UMC Music Ministry, under the leadership of Amy Brown and Duane Dillard, has blessed us tremendously. Many continue to be inspired and blessed by the Praise Team singers, the choir, the handbell choir, along with the various soloists and instrumentalists.
The Family Life Ministry and Sunday School Ministry have been a blessing to the children of our church. My kids have personally benefited from the various activities provided throughout the year. Janice Thompson, Tracy Walls-Pulling, Laura Widger, Mark and Sue Holden have worked hard to ensure that our children have the best Sunday School experience. I am so appreciative to Janice Thompson for organizing the various presenters for the children lessons. These lessons not only provide meaning, purpose and substance for the children and youth but also the adults. A special thanks to presenters: Sam Harrell, Brian McNelis, Ellie Leuliette, Jenneth Benjamin, Susie Cate, Courtney Martin and Adrienne Dillard.
I am so blessed to work alongside Bonnie Valeski, Alice Mullins, and Janice Thompson. No one sees or knows completely how each of them goes over and beyond the call of duty.
Although I am anxiously and prayerfully awaiting my new pastoral appointment to Newark UMC, I will surely miss my St. Paul's family. These two years together have been both rewarding and amazing. With God’s help, we were able to persevere, as a church, during a national pandemic, pushing past fearmongering to ensure the Word of God was still heard and celebrated together. Thanks go out to Courtney Martin, Josh Reitzes, John Littell and Charlii Miller, for all their knowledge and expertise in bringing services virtually to our congregation during those trying times.
Hap Bonham’s Men's Bible Study, the Sunday morning Adult Sunday School and Carole Harmon’s Thursday morning Prayer and Praise Team have helped me remain spiritually grounded during the difficult times. My participation as a board member of the Neighborhood House, Urban Ministry, Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry of Delaware State University and District Committee on Ministry continues to provide me a meaning of purpose. The weekly group piano lessons that I continue to provide to the many impoverished inner-city children of Urban Promise has afforded me the opportunity to plant seeds for God’s marvelous kingdom.
The Prayer and Praise Team has also helped me support various people in need through the " Love Thy Neighbor Fund". These funds have helped numerous individuals and families in crisis. Through this group we have also provided fruit baskets for our shut-ins during my monthly pastoral visits.
Camp Pecometh Sunday was a special celebration! My thanks to Rev. Dr. David Buchanan for being our guest speaker. He enlightened us of the many ways that we can encourage each other, especially our youth, as we face distractions daily. Special thanks to Abby Gottleib for being our Youth speaker to tell us of her experience at Camp Pecometh last summer. Pecometh Camp & Retreat Ministries partners with over 400 churches of the Peninsula Delaware Conference of The United Methodist Church to provide camps, retreats, and outdoor programs to persons of all ages and from all walks of life. Pecometh has operated continuously since 1946 on the Chester River near Centreville, Maryland. It is a place where people play, learn and grow for a lifetime.
I am very excited about the new incoming pastor, Rev. Linda Driver Ray. Her appointment to St. Paul's UMC is a gift from God. During several transitional meetings, I've had the privilege and opportunity to learn about and witness her dedication and devotion to pastoral ministry. I sincerely believe she is the best person to lead St. Paul's into the post- pandemic future. She also brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. The SPRC team, Administrative Assistant – Bonnie Valeski, Treasurer - Alice Mullins, along with myself, are doing everything to make this a smooth transition for Pastor Linda and her family. I thank you all for giving your tithe, time, and talent to support the ongoing work of the St. Paul’s UMC Ministry. Be encouraged and may God continue to bless you and your family. I am very excited about my upcoming ordination to become a Full Elder in Connection. This has been a long and exciting journey. Three years ago, I was commissioned as a Provisional Elder. During this time, I met with several other Confirmands for two years of projects and retreats. This collaboration and experience enabled me to grow and evolve as a Pastor and Spiritual Leader. Last year, the UMC's Dragon Fly research project discovered that African Americans, along with other minorities, had at least a 20 percent disadvantage in successfully passing the Board of Ordained Ministry interview process. I took last year to successfully create a minority platform where several candidates met through Zoom with various Elders that helped us overcome this implicit bias. I am proud to say that this year, 2022, will make history in three African American males being commissioned and ordained within the Peninsula Delaware Conference. To God be the glory! When all goes well at the Clergy Executive Session, my Ordination Service will take place at Connections Church on June 18, 2022, at 2:00 pm. Although this will be a closed event, it will be live streamed for your viewing convenience and pleasure.
The Zoar project has been an exciting adventure. This is God’s Kingdom advancing right before our eyes. Quakers, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalians, and community folk coming together to restore a historic African American Church. We were recently approved as a 501c3 NonProfit organization and received corporation status under the name Friends of Zoar. Through the dedication and hard work of supporters of this project, we have received a grant, donations and proceeds of a recent yard sale, toward restoration of the Church building and grounds. I am proud to say that we made history together. As the first person of color to pastor St. Paul's of Odessa, it was my honor and privilege to crack the cross racial/cross cultural glass ceiling. The world is changing around us. The whole MOT community has expanded tremendously. And if communities and schools can embrace diverse leadership, why shouldn't the church? I am proud to say that in a world that is so divided and polarized, that the greater majority of you received me and my family into the St. Paul's family with open arms. I will always remember St. Paul’s as representing God’s beloved community. This is God’s love in action – love comes in many colors. Therefore, we must continue to be intentional about nurturing multiculturalism and diversity.
My prayer is that our spiritual and cultural awareness and collective conscience, have grown and matured significantly these two years together. My prayer is that we would be willing to guard, protect and defend each other against any and all forms of prejudice, bias, and injustice as we live out our Baptismal vows.
St. Paul's is blessed to have the support, involvement and engagement of Rev. Cheryl Jensen and Rev. Karin Tunnell. Both former retired Pastors were recently celebrated and inducted as our Pastor Emeritus this past year. Our Pastors in residence include: Rev. Cindy Coski, Rev. Patti Collett-Ravilious and Rev. Danese Collins. All of these Pastors have been supportive of me and the ministry of St. Paul's UMC. I can't imagine doing ministry without their ongoing love and support. For several months, Rev. Danese and Bob Collins have been helpful in addressing the grief needs and concerns of our church and surrounding community through facilitating the GriefShare program. Weekly, Daniels and Hutchinson Funeral Home have provided donuts and coffee for these meetings.
Lastly, Barbara Lynn Manlove, Kenzel and Gene Messick, Sharyn Sheats, Dawn Buckworth, Charlii and Janet Miller, Charlotte Miller, Denis Shaffer, Lynda Lambert, Dick and Ellie Leuliette and many others are owed a huge thank you for their time and dedication in beautifying the Church, and grounds. And also, my great thanks to our ushers and coordinators, June Stemmle, Ellie and Dick Leuliette, John Harmon, Denis Shaffer, and Patti and John Harmer for their gracious smile and warm hospitality.
On behalf of myself, my wife Jenneth, and my children Nickeya, KJ, Ken-Ken, Jenifer, Jessica, and Kyle, I thank you for embracing us in the St. Paul's UMC Church family. You will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Sincerely in Christ, 
Pastor Kevin Benjamin

Rick Pulling/SPRC Announcement

of New Pastor

March 2022


I am pleased to announce that Bishop LaTrelle Easterly has assigned Reverend Linda Driver Ray, to guide us forward on the path at hand. She is assigned to St. Paul’s UMC effective July 1st.


Pastor Linda comes to us from the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church where she has been since 2002, and most recently Pastor at Chamberlayne Heights UMC, Richmond, Virginia, ( Pastor Linda’s desire is, “…. To continue to serve the church as an ordained minister, making use of {my} gifts of mentoring, administration, pastoral leadership, and teaching.”


Pastor Linda obtained her undergraduate degree at Rhodes College and her Master of Divinity at Memphis Theological Seminary, both located in Memphis, TN. She has done additional course work at University of Arkansas-Little Rock and Scarritt College in Nashville, TN. She brings with her 30 years of progressively responsible experience in religion, music, education, and community service. She has served in a variety of churches with membership ranging from 15 to 1500 as a station pastor, associate pastor, staff specialist, teacher, and administrator. Pastor Linda will be looking for a home in the Dover area to be closer to her daughter who resides in Ocean Pines, MD.


St. Paul’s UMC is blessed with this appointment and SPRC is pleased with the Bishop’s decision to assign Pastor Linda to us!