First pastor of the United Methodist Church, Brad Bennett, announces his retirement

Especially for the Leader & Times

After 36 years of service at the United Methodist Church, Pastor Brad Bennett and his wife Jayne are retiring to New Mexico. Bennett has been the lead pastor of First United Methodist Church in Liberal since July 1, 2020.

Jayne volunteered her time at the Southwest Medical Center Auxiliary. She was also a member of the United Methodist Women and participated in a book club, Bible study and community choir.

Pastor Brad is a trained musician and his vocal talents have been featured in care centers and weekly services. He was also active in many organizations including the Liberal Ministerial Alliance, Rotary Club of Liberal, Seward County Development Corporation, Liberal Coalition of Families, The Seward County Local Health Equity Action Team with the Communities Organizing to Promote Equity University of Kansas Medical Center, Genesis Family Health Advisory Council and the Liberal Community Choir.

“Pastor Brad and Jayne have led our church through challenging times including the COVID shutdown, changes within our church and major repairs to the historic church at 116 W. Third Street,” said church member Bret Irby. “Their calm, professional demeanor was a much-needed influence in coping with difficult times.”

Bennett also worked closely with church leader Susan Lukwago.

“We believe that God calls pastors to churches, at least I do,” Lukwago said. “We believe God’s timing is perfect, at least I do. Brad and Jayne answered God’s calling at First United Methodist Church in Liberal. They helped us at the right time, and I trust they were exactly what we needed to get through the withdrawal vote and emerge on the other side. To me it’s a bit like Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, wandering through the desert and reaching the edge of the promised land. Now the next pastor, our Joshua, if you will, will take us to the promised land. But we couldn’t have done it without our Moses, Pastor Brad. So thank you for saying yes to the call of God, Pastor Brad and Jayne. May you continue to bless and be blessed.”

Church member Elizabeth Irby also had supportive words for Pastor Bennett.

“I have sought guidance and understanding over the years,” says Elizabeth Irby. “With Pastor Brad’s knowledge of the Bible, his ability to listen to God’s word and his dedication to the UMC Book of Discipline for more than 40 years, he helped fulfill God’s plan for First United Methodist Church in Liberal. Thank you, Pastor Brad Bennett, for your support, guidance and friendship over the past four years. I pray that God continues to bless you and keep you safe as you retire.”

Pastor Bennett wished the church well upon his departure.

“Personally, as I retire, I am so happy with God’s gift of faith to know the good, good news of Jesus Christ, to have faith in things I cannot understand, to trust the guidance of the Spirit I cannot understand. You see, so that somehow, one day, someone will breathe resurrection into what I have already offered as a simple gift to life,” he said. “I pray that the faithful of First United Methodist Church in Liberal will continue to rely on God’s spirit to lead the congregation through uncertainties and into a future filled with immeasurable faith, hope and love.”

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