By Derek Maul

For Rodney Body, who recently retired from South Georgia, accepting the call to the pulpit of First United Methodist Church of Seffner was a lot like coming home.

“Florida has always been in my blood,” Body said. “We moved to Plant City when my dad was laid off from the railroad in Lynchburg Virginia. He was a welder and found work in the phosphate industry.”

After high school, Body attended Hillsborough Community College for his AA-degree and graduated from University of South Florida with a history degree in 1973.

“I enrolled in Candler Theological Seminary, in Atlanta,” he said, “but dropped out.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

Body moved to Nashville, graduated from the “Scarritt College for Christian Workers,” and then worked as an assistant pastor in Lakeland, where he met his future wife, Mable.

He followed Mable to Tulsa, Oklahoma, worked with an inner city bus ministry and enrolled in the Oral Roberts Seminary before returning to Atlanta and completing his divinity degree at Candler.

Body worked 30 years as a Methodist pastor in the South Georgia Conference, serving at least one appointment in each of nine districts.

“Florida is such a different demographic,” Body said.

Since his July 1 installation, Body has come to appreciate the character and the spirit of the Seffner congregation.

“There’s great leadership here,” Body said. “They’re good folk, very outgoing and loving. These are really salty Christians, sincere, caring people.”

“Now we have 205 members,” Body said, “with around 80 in church every Sunday. I’m very optimistic about the future, and we want to welcome anyone who is looking for a place of worship.”

Body said his real passion is preaching and that the most meaningful passage of scripture for the Seffner church at this time is the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13.

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Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at