Vance Gilmore to retire in early 2021
Highland Park United Methodist Church has a new Director of Belong disABILITY Ministry, as Vance Gilmore will be retiring. Rev. Ramsey Patton will now be leading the ministry.
Gilmore has worked at HPUMC since the fall of 2016, serving as the Director of Belong since January of 2018. “When I was given the opportunity to help with the design of the Tolleson Family Activity Center and to create new programs for those with disabilities, it was an amazing opportunity,” he said.
Gilmore says he will treasure lots of special moments from his time with Belong. In particular, he loved seeing The Feast grow and serve families each week in such an amazing way, especially the Christmas Eve service.
“Families attend and bring loved ones,” Gilmore said. “Sometimes three generations of family members are all sitting together. The families are given the opportunity to worship as many other families do on Christmas Eve.”
Helping open Chance’s Pie & Coffee Shop, which is managed and run by participants of the Belong disABILITY Ministry, is another memory he said that he will cherish. “To see the crew members of Chance's gain confidence, learn skills, and feel a part of something wonderful and big, will always bring me joy.”
Prior to his time at HPUMC, Gilmore was the Executive Director of Camp John Marc for nearly 30 years. He played a role in the camp’s success from day one, selecting the build site, developing the program, and so much more.
While he is excited to retire, Vance is also thrilled for the future of Belong, calling it a “home run” to have Rev. Ramsey Patton leading the ministry going forward.
“Her talents and heart for the entire families of those Belong serves,” Gilmore said, “speaks to how much HPUMC regards those with disabilities.”
Rev. Patton joined the HPUMC staff in June 2011, serving as the Spotlight Musical Theater Coordinator and Associate in Cornerstone. During her time at HPUMC, she has also been the Director of Caring Ministries, Director of Congregational Care, and the Associate Pastor of Care and Engagement. Plus, she started and continues to lead The Feast, a worship service for those with disabilities, their families and friends, and all who have a heart for disabilities.
“I entered into ministry with a strong call to work with the marginalized,” Rev. Patton said. “I had no idea what that would look like.” However, after her first Saturday working with the Spotlight Musical participants, she knew that she had found where she belonged. Now, she says, “I am incredibly honored and grateful to have the opportunity to serve as the Director of Belong.”
Rev. Patton believes that God has big plans for the future growth and impact of the Belong disABILITY Ministry.
“I think we have the opportunity to begin to change the way our society views individuals with disabilities and to demonstrate that we are all beloved children of God, made in the image of God with unique God-given gifts and abilities,” she said.
Commending Vance Gilmore and all that he helped achieve, Rev. Patton said, “Vance is an absolutely exceptional leader, and it is intimidating and humbling to attempt to follow in his footsteps.” Of course, she knows that he will still be happy to support her and the ministry in any way that he can. “He promised me that I can call him for advice anytime,” she said, “so that is reassuring!”
In addition to spending time outdoors during his retirement — gardening, swimming, and hiking — Vance plans to help with the Morning Star Family Foundation and the Crowley-Carter Foundation. His last day at HPUMC will be sometime in the spring of 2021.