Center FUMC welcomes Rev. Malcolm and Teresa Monroe
Rev. Malcolm Monroe has only been in Center a few weeks serving as the new pastor at First United Methodist Church, but he has been impressed with the reception from congregation and the community as a whole.
“We have been amazingly well received here,” he said of he and his wife, Teresa. “The congregation and the community have an outstanding reputation. Everyone told us you are going to love Center, and everything we have experienced so far confirms that.”
He is taking over the pastorship from Rev. Karen Jones, who has held the position for more than the past five years. Methodist Bishop Scott J. Jones earlier this year thatJones has been appointed as District Superintendent for the North District of the Texas Annual Conference beginning July 1.
“I am grateful for the many ways Karen has served our Conference in vital leadership positions over the years and we are pleased to have her on our cabinet,” Jones said.
Monroe said he looks forward to being a part of community.
“This church has a lot going for it with a long, faithful history in his community,” he said. “I'm honored to be a part of what has been and what will be and am looking forward to being part of the congregation and the community because people are the best part of creation.”
Teresa Monroe is an educator who will be the academic coordinator at Center Middle School this year, he said. She brings 33 years of education experience to the new position.
“She loves what she does,” he said. “She is confident, capable and loves working with kids.”
The couple's blended family includes adult children spread out in various parts of Texas.
Prior to arriving in Center, Monroe was pastor in Crockett. He was raised in the Methodist denomination.
“In my college days there was a missionary who came and shared about a summer program in Japan,” he said. He began his calling as a minister as a short term missionary in Japan and returned to the states to do recruiting for that same mission agency.
“Nine months or so later in Arlington, Texas, I went into youth ministry and from the youth ministry there I entered seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and I came back to the Texas Annual Conference and was ordained in 1993.”
He has ministered to parishes in the Golden Triangle area of Southeast Texas, Crystal Beach, Houston and Rosenburg.
“I did a clown ministry for many years,” Monroe said. “In Arlington, Texas working in the youth ministry, working with both affluent and non-affluent kids, I was looking for something everyone could do and relate to.”
He received training in that line of ministry and for about the next 20 years did the full white-faced clown routine to help capture young people's attention and spread the Word.
“There's awesome theology in bringing joy and laughter to people,” he said. “All around the world I have been blessed to do magic and balloon animals, from China to the Philippines, and from Mexico and Israel — all of these places I've been blessed to share balloons and share joy.”
Monroe said he does not hold himself out to be a professional clown by any means. But, heading down that avenue served him and his ministry well for many years.
“I had bin after bin of magic tricks and I do the balloon animals and have already done them for the children here,” Monroe said. While his full clown persona has been mostly retired for years, those skills still resurface from time-to-time in helping connect with people.
For instance, earlier this year he spent about a month in Jerusalem where he and a sister, who is also an ordained minister, visited a popular public courtyard.
“She came with me and I blew up a balloon, and she gave it to a lady and before you knew it, I had a whole line of kids waiting for balloons,” Monroe said.
“Wherever you go, balloons are open doors,” he said. “Smiles, joy and laughter are an open door. It's lots of fun and it breaks down barriers in a heartbeat.”
With the change in public attitudes on clowns brought about in recent years by Hollywood's depictions, he likely will not be seen in his full clown attire locally. But, Monroe said from time-to-time he may pull out some magic tricks from his past and twist and turn balloons into interesting, attention gathering shapes to help connect.
In addition to taking on his newest role with a new church and a new community, Monroe said the times, with the challenges of the coronavirus, social distancing and limits on public gatherings, are new to everyone.
“You have to re-think what you're doing,” he said. In Crockett, his congregation ventured into video streaming services and that has already been going on with the Center First UMC.
“COVID has forced us to do that in order to find other creative ways to meet peoples' spiritual and social needs,” Monroe said. The pandemic has made visiting nursing homes and shut-in congregation members challenging and at times not possible.
“You just can't isolate people forever,” he said. “Any way we can find to be creative with youth and children, we're going to take, and I'm open to suggestions.”
Monroe said he is looking forward to his time in Center.