Rev. Dr. Penelope H. Barber - Pastor
Greetings! My name is Penny Barber, and I’m pretty much a normal gal who enjoys coffee (strong coffee), trail riding on my bicycle, and several other sports. I grew up in Memphis, TN, with my parents, an older brother, a younger sister, 3 grandparents and lots of cousins and aunts and uncles. Memphis, the river city, home of the blues and Elvis, is amazing – it was a great place to grow up in the 70’s and 80’s!
Some of my fondest memories of childhood revolve around my family’s involvement in our church – St. Paul United Methodist Church (which no longer exists, by the way). We had great pastors and loving Sunday School teachers, good music and a lively little youth group – led by a really sweet couple in their 70’s, who always made us chocolate shakes at the annual youth Christmas party at their home. I remember as a kid, loving to go to church…and it’s a feeling that’s never gone away. I still love going to church…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
After playing lots of soccer, basketball, volleyball, and softball, I graduated from High School and went to St. Louis on a scholarship to Washington University. It was my first time to be away from home for any extended period and it was quite an adjustment. Although I had great roommates, I was really lonely and homesick for the first couple of months. But then I settled into some new routines of attending my classes, working at my food service job, going to church on Sundays, and playing with my friends…and college was
AWESOME! College fed my natural curiosity about the world, and my church helped me sort through all the confusing ambiguities (well, many of them, anyway). I grew in knowledge and faith.
Around my junior year at Wash. U., God began calling me to ministry. I pretended not to hear for a while…but that didn’t really help. I talked a lot with my pastor and finally committed to at least exploring the idea. I preached my first sermon at the age of 19 at the Aldersgate UMC in Memphis, on a United Methodist Student Sunday. It was a terrifying and exhilarating experience. My Sr. year at Wash. U. my pastor encouraged me to go spend a weekend at his old seminary. They were hosting an event called “Discover Saint Paul” (that was the name of the school). I went and really enjoyed the weekend and I fell in love with the school. I started thinking, “I could really see myself studying here.” Not only did I discover Saint Paul that weekend, I also discovered a charming young seminary student named Howard Bell, who would later become my husband!
Immediately after graduating from Washington University, I went to work as a secretary at a computer software company. It wasn’t anything I was particularly interested in, but a friend from church had gotten me an interview and the job had a nice salary with it and I really wanted to buy my first car.
So I bought my new Nissan Sentra XE – 5 speed, of course – and went to work. Made a lot of good friends, had fun, started dating Howard…but the Lord kept nudging me to go to seminary. After 7 months, I finally gave in. I told the Lord I would go to seminary, but I still wasn’t convinced that being a pastor was right for me. I told the Lord it was up to Him to convince me, but if He made His will clear to me, I would do my absolute best to follow it.
Howard graduated from Saint Paul and he and I got married in May of 1988. He started his first appointment and I started seminary in the Fall. About half-way through my seminary career, I was ordained a Deacon. That was one of the most amazing, grace-filled moments of my life as I felt the Lord’s anointing. It’s hard to describe, really, but suffice it to say, God had me. I was convinced. As hard as it was for me to believe, the Lord really wanted me to be a pastor. I was so honored, and overwhelmed, and excited! I graduated Saint Paul School of Theology and even received the Ray Kimbrell Award for Excellence in Biblical Studies.
After graduation, I was appointed to a 3-point charge and my husband was appointed to a 2-point charge in the West Frankfort, IL area. While there, the Lord blessed us with our two wonderful children – David, and three years later, Rachel. And our kids are amazing! They are academically gifted, athletic, energetic, creative, playful, witty, kind-hearted and they love Jesus! We are so proud of them. David has graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, works as a high school teacher and football coach, and last year married a lovely young woman named Katherine. Dave and Kat are expecting their first child later this year (and Howard and I will become grandparents!!)! And Rachel graduated from Auburn University in Alabama and is heading to Law School in the fall. Even though our daily routines have altered a lot in recent years, we find that God’s grace is ever-present, helping us find new “normal” and adjusting to new stages in life. Even so, there is rarely a dull moment around here. I praise God for the joys of having a family and church family who lives and plays together, worships together, and loves and helps each other. We feel God’s blessings, daily.
Anyway, after the West Frankfort chapter, Howard and I were appointed as co-pastors of the Clinton United Methodist Church, Clinton, IL, and we served there for 6 wonderful years. Next, I was appointed to the Casey UMC and Howard was appointed to the Oblong Evangelical UMC in Oblong, IL. I have also enjoyed the privilege of studying evangelism at Perkins School of Theology on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. I received a Doctor of Ministry degree from them in 2006.
A few years later, Howard was moved to a new charge in Louisville, IL, while I remained at Casey UMC. Then in 2016 I was appointed to New Bethel UMC, here in Glen Carbon, IL. And this is a wonderful, Christ-centered, loving church with a passion for mission! Howard is out of the ministry now and working full-time (from home) for the National Archives and Records Center in St. Louis. And while 2020 has been an incredible year filled with challenges and uncertainties, and a lot of grief and fear due to COVID - the one constant I see is the love God has for us all. That love has helped many of us find new ways to be connected while staying apart. We’ve discovered creative ways to worship, learn, work, and celebrate. And even as so much is swirling and changing around us, New Bethel Church is positioning itself for a new day. We look forward to coming out of this COVID season even stronger and more focused: A light for all to see; a place for all to be; a new church for a new day!
My friends, our God still sits on the throne, and God is working in our world and has good plans for us! I am constantly reminded that life is a gift and a wondrous, adventure-filled journey. Consider yourselves invited to join us on the next leg of the journey! Thanks for taking the time to read this. Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop in for a visit at New Bethel Church, 131 N. Main St., Glen Carbon, IL 62034.
Kathy Bryant - Administrative Assistant
I grew up in Florissant, Missouri attending High school in that area. My family and I went to Charbonier Methodist Church until it’s closing, I was confirmed there. We later transferred to St. Mark’s Methodist Church in the Florissant area.
Growing up I was involved in, swimming lessons, Girl Scouts, day camps, vacation bible school, my passion was Job’s Daughters, a Masonic organization for young girls, there I flourished. I joined at the age of 12 and served until I received my majority in 1977. I was installed as Honored Queen of Bethel #46, of Berkeley Missouri on December 28, 1974. My theme was “It’s A Small World” and my mascot was Mickey Mouse. Yes, I have a love for Disney. Ever since then I have been an avid Mickey Mouse Collector. I have a bedroom in my house that displays over 400 Mickey Mouse items. And yes, I can decorate a whole Christmas tree in Mickey Mouse ornaments.
My second passion is Dollhouses. I love to build dollhouses and make furniture for them. I currently have 7 dollhouses in my home. I love to not only build them, but I make and sell miniatures and furniture to decorate and furnish a dollhouse.
I have 2 boys, Patrick and Jonathan Sanfilippo. They are the love of my life! Both were in the Boy Scout Program. Jon made Eagle Scout in July 2000.
I started attending New Bethel UMC in November of 2004. I married David Bryant in 2005 and became a member of New Bethel on September 18, 2005. As a member, I jumped in with both feet where I became involved with many activities of the church, from Soup and Bread dinners to being in skits at worship services. What drew me here was how friendly and welcoming this church is. I have been a member of the adult choir for 8 years.
As of March 2020, I became the Administrative Assistant at New Bethel UMC. I couldn’t have found a better place to work. I love my Job and the members I work for.
David Bryant - Choir Director and Custodian
I serve as the Adult Choir Director, Bell Choir Director, and the Church Janitor. I have also been caring for all things growing in the church yard. That seems to be an odd combination, but, I look for ways to combine that which is divided.
My many past employers have educated me in building construction, singing, yard control, property management, and the art of improving my surroundings.
With a two year college degree, I began a 35 year career as a Drafter of drawing construction drawings. I worked on designs for; schools, jails, breweries, manufacturing, wastewater treatment, Saudi Air Force, AT+T, Cardinal Baseball Stadium, casinos, movie theaters, and the Super Conducting Super Collider.
I took over my father’s rental properties and began fixing renter’s problems. This educated me in; social work, book keeping, IRS, plumbing, electrical, house construction, bugs, trash, vandalism, court procedures, and the true power of the police and local inspectors.
I have opened up my janitorial care of this church to improve your experience of being one with this church. There is no dirt, glitter, food, trash, grass, or tree that can hide from me for long.
Music is a true calling in my life. Music is always there to bring emotion, effort, and satisfaction. Piano lessons, High School Band, and many Choir Directors have educated me. I sing Tenor with the Great Rivers Choral Society. I value their leadership, and the joy of searching for the perfect sound of many combining into “One Voice”. I strive to bring this power to our choirs. Attendance restriction has limited me to soloing from the piano bench, but I will always sing.
Sun Hye Chung - Worship Accompanist
My name is Sun Hye Chung, but please call me “Sunny”. I am a Master’s student studying Piano Performance at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville.
I have studied for the past 24 years the art of music and piano, and also have experience with voice and organ performance. My professional career includes multiple performances in orchestras and showcases in countries such as the U.S., Germany, Austria, France, and South Korea.
I graduated from Seoul Theological University with a Master of Arts in Church Music. After a solo and orchestra tour in Europe, I wanted to see more of the world and study the art of piano in more depth. Thus began my journey to the United States. In August 2019, I entered Judson University and experienced US culture and church music through several choir accompaniment tours at the Judson University Choir. I was accepted into the Master’s in Piano Performance program at SIUE in 2020, and I have been providing teaching and accompanying as a graduate assistant since.
I was born with the Christian faith, and my faith is deeply rooted in my family and the church community. My heart fills with joy when I am able to serve a church through my music and it will always be one of the most important things in my life.
I believe God will lead my way and strive to follow His plan. My favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:13 - “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”