Greenville native continues journey of faith, service
Published 7:38 pm Friday, December 30, 2016
A lifelong resident of the Camellia City is about to open a new chapter as he readies himself for a life of Christian service as a Methodist pastor.
Matt Langford, a 2012 graduate of Fort Dale Academy, has been accepted into the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta for the fall of 2017 and declared a recipient of the Stegall scholarship.
“I was delighted and overjoyed, really, when I found out I was accepted into Candler,” Langford, the son of Ashley and Matt, Sr., says. “I have met so many wonderful people who have spent their seminary years there and they have nothing but fantastic things to say about the seminary.”
Ordination into the United Methodist Church can be a lengthy process, Langford says.
One of these steps is becoming a certified candidate for ordination, and those who meet these requirements in the Alabama West Florida Annual Conference are then eligible to receive the Stegall scholarship, making the cost of attending seminary more manageable for students like Langford.
After spending his first 22 years in Greenville, Langford just moved to the capitol city where he is currently serving as student minister at First United Methodist Church of Montgomery.
He is slated to graduate from Auburn University at Montgomery in May with a bachelor degree in Business Administration with focus on information systems. Langford’s first two years of college were spent at LBW Community College, where he was an active member of their band/show choir, performing at a number of different schools (“an awesome opportunity”).
The business major says the church has always been an important part of his life.
“I grew up in church at First United Methodist in Greenville . . . when I was in the 9th grade, I started playing drums and was asked by a local pastor, Johnathan Duke, to help him lead a student worship service on Wednesday nights,” Langford recalls. “And that’s when I could truly feel God calling me into ministry.”
As he performed and learned more about worship from his mentor, Langford was also given more and more opportunities to speak and share about his faith. “And I soon realized that the ministry wasn’t just something I was called to do; it was something I truly wanted to do,” Langford explains.
When former pastor David Saliba was appointed to FUMC, he hired Langford to be the church’s youth director, a position in which he has served for the past three-and-a-half years.
Saliba, he says, gave him more than a job. He gave him direction, encouragement and an example to follow.
“I begin to feel again God calling me towards full-time pastoral ministry,” Langford says.
Having been involved in ministry leadership since the age of 16, logging in almost five years in full-time paid ministry, Langford has seen his personal outlook evolve since his teen years.
“While I knew I wanted to be in the ministry, all Christians are called to minister to others. I just figured I would be a very involved layperson,” Langford explains. “This changed when I became a youth director . . . after working with youth so much, I wanted to serve Christ by giving my life to helping serve students in our area.”
It was Saliba, Langford says, who helped the young man see he was called to do more than just minister to students.
“David was always willing to let me assist in worship services and other types of services we held. I was able to make hospital visits, sit in on church meetings,” Langford explains. “I learned so much about the Methodist church and the way it functions, I felt this was what I was supposed to do—to become a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church.”
Langford credits his family for their constant support over the years.
“Whether it was playing tennis and basketball in high school, playing music at LBW, and now in terms of the ministry, my family members have always been my biggest fans,” Langford says. “From listening to sermons more than once, to traveling many miles to hear me preach at a church that might have only 20 people, if that, there to hear me—I cannot thank them enough for their love and support.”
The Methodist Church comes with some unique characteristics for the life of a clergy person, mainly with the appointment system (pastors being re-assigned every few years to a new community and church to serve).
“My parents have always been excited and they have encouraged me in continuing the process, even though you never know where you might be sent,” Langford says.
“They understand, as I do, we have to surrender our whole selves over to God to help the entire church of Jesus Christ.”