By Paul Black
SPRINGFIELD – Bishop Frank J. Beard has announced the appointment of the Rev. Sylvester Weatherall as directing pastor of Normal Calvary UMC, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The announcement was made Sept. 30.
“Rev. Sylvester Weatherall has been a key leader in the IGRC and will continue to serve in leadership as the senior pastor of one of our largest congregations,” Beard said. “He is the first African-American pastor appointed as lead pastor of Normal Calvary UMC. His gifts and graces match the expressed needs of the church and community. I am blessed to have such an experienced and well qualified pastor to appoint to this high-profile church.”
Weatherall will succeed the Rev. Randy Reese, who will retire Dec. 31. Reese has been pastor of Calvary for five years when he and his wife, Debbie Reese were appointed as co-pastors July 1, 2014. She retired Sept. 30, 2018.
Weatherall was in the eighth and final year of service as Conference Superintendent – serving five years in the Spoon River District and the past 2 ½ years as superintendent of the Sangamon River District. Conference superintendents have a tenure of a maximum six years but may be extended two years at the discretion of the bishop, in consultation with the cabinet and the district committee on superintendency. He is also the current Dean of the Cabinet.
Beard said he will be working with the Cabinet and with the Sangamon District Committee on Superintendency to address this vacancy in the near future.
When appointed to the Spoon River District in 2012, former Illinois Area Bishop Gregory V. Palmer noted that Weatherall “is a strong preacher and has the heart of an evangelist. In every community he has served he has a track record of missional engagement.”
In 2017, Weatherall was appointed by Beard as Sangamon River District superintendent following the retirement of Dr. Terry Harter. He became the third superintendent since the 1996 merger whose tenure was divided with service into two district.
“I appreciate the many gifts of leadership, administration, strategic thinking and planning that
Rev. Weatherall has shared within the Cabinet and throughout the annual conference,” Beard said. “He is an exceptionally gifted preacher, a community leader and has a long and excellent track record of church revitalization and growth.”
Weatherall has preached extensively throughout the State of Illinois and across the
North Central Jurisdiction. He was a candidate for the office of Bishop in 2016.
“He has a heart for the local church and a passion to see folks come to faith in Jesus Christ, become faithful disciples and to participate in the mandate of making disciples that transform the world,” Beard said.
Born in St. Louis, Mo., Weatherall is a graduate from East St. Louis High School, McKendree University and Eden Theological Seminary. During his ministry, he has been a two-time Denman Evangelism Award winner and a former chair of the Conference Commission on Religion and Race.