Welcome to Hillsborough United Methodist Church (HUMC)! I am blessed beyond measure to serve as the senior pastor of this parish, which is a good old fashioned word that means the church and it’s wider community. These days our communities include those we connect with online, meaning you and I are in a form of community as you visit this website. We are praying for you and yours, namely that you experience the fullness of God’s love for you and for the world. HUMC is a gathering of God’s people representing many ages, backgrounds, beliefs, and abilities. We are united by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who calls us to love God and people. This church was founded nearly 100 years ago, and we are actively praying for God to lead us into the next century of gospel ministry.
Here’s a bit about me. For those who prefer formal introductions, I am the Reverend Tanner Alan White, BA, MDiv, and Provisional Elder in The UMC. Calling me by title – pastor, preacher, father, reverend, or the like – is a choice I invite you to make according to your comfort and tradition. If you ask me how I prefer to be addressed, I’ll ask you to call me Tanner. That’s the name I was given, and I am grateful to be called at all – by God and by you. I look forward to calling you by the name you prefer, which I will remember to the best of my ability – usually not until we have a meaningful conversation for 5 minutes or more. I’m not active on social media for many reasons, but I’m accessible via phone to those who belong to the church and wider community.
Speaking of name calling, my parents (Ron and Ruth White) gave me mine. They divorced when I was a child but they both faithfully attend Hillsborough UMC as generous and active members. My parents raised me in Tampa, Florida where my wife Mallory and I met as neighbors and teenage heartthrobs. Mallory and I are expecting our first born in August of 2019, and we couldn’t be more excited! We arrived at HUMC in July of 2018 and have felt at home among this family of faith, where we plan to remain for as long as the God and church allow. If you attend faithfully, whatever that means to you, you may get the occasional blessing of hearing my wife sing and play the piano. People generally respond positively to my preaching, but when Mallory plays music she heals souls in a way you must experience to know fully. My wife is my best friend, and we set aside time from sundown on Friday to noon on Saturday to be alone together. We pray that you and your family will experience God’s love as we have in this community of faith at HUMC.
In the Christian tradition, across denominations, we affirm that the beginning of the journey of faith is marked by baptism. We believe that baptism is primarily the work of God, and secondarily the response of the baptized. That’s in part why we baptize babies, whom the church sprinkles or dips in water as an outward sign of God’s inward claim on our lives. Our baptism sends us into Christian ministry. When I was an infant, my maternal grandfather baptized me at Hyde Park United Methodist Church (UMC) in Tampa. My grandfather was an Elder in The UMC Methodist in Alabama. After my baptism my parents seldom took me to church: my mom spent enough time in church as a child to make up for a few lifetimes, and my father was raised in a strict Roman Catholic upbringing that burned him out on church at an early age. The only times I remember attending church as a child was when I visited my grandparents over holidays. It was in my grandfather’s study, while preparing to preach my inaugural sermon, where I received God’s call to pursue ordained pastoral ministry. I was terrified, tearful and tentative when I sensed God sending me into ministry. That happened when I was 19. A decade later, I am still in awe of God’s choosing to send folks like you and me into Christian ministry by our baptism.
As I began to wrestle with God’s call to me through my early twenties, I engaged in professional Christian ministry experiences that enhanced my vocational discernment. Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Episcopal churches employed my gifts in a cornucopia of pastoral ministry opportunities. I spent a year or so studying and serving in each of these distinct traditions across the country and the world, in churches, not-for-profits, and on mission overseas. At the funeral of a friend’s grandfather, a priest told a story that brought my denominational wandering to an unexpected end. I asked myself, “If I’ve been baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Episcopalian, where I would be buried if I died today?” I was led back to where the church in which I was baptized as a baby: Hyde Park UMC. I then entered the Candidacy process and have spent the last several years in another variety of settings: studying theology at the University of Oxford in England as part of my Bachelors degree; earning a Masters in Divinity (MDiv) at Emory University, where I served as a hospital chaplain at Gwinnett Medical Center, and a student pastor at Alcovy UMC. Upon graduating from seminary in Georgia, the Florida Conference called me home to send me serve as an Associate Pastor at St. Pete First UMC. Now, I’m at the height of my life and ministry as I serve as the senior pastor of Hillsborough UMC.
Now that I’ve shared a bit about myself and HUMC, I hope to hear your story. Join us online and onsite as you are led and able. We are currently in the beginning of a long discernment towards identifying God’s call for this congregation. This discovery takes place over time through prayer and conversation with God and with one another. We host about 100 people in the physical sanctuary, and our weekly services are viewed an average of 100 times each. Our service is ever evolving, a blend of a praise band music with some traditional hymns and prayers. The worship is led by ordained and lay ministers, through music, Scripture readings, preaching, and prayer. We are certainly not without flaws, but we believe perfection is about God’s love that works through our shortcomings. May you experience the fullness of God’s love for you and for the world.
With you in Christ at HUMC and beyond,
Pastor Tanner White