Meet Samantha Aupperlee
“My Mom is a United Methodist Pastor as well,” said Pastor Samantha Aupperlee, the new Minister at the Beach United Methodist Church at 155 Bay Road! “I took over from Pastor Ivan Corbin on July 1. Although I am not married or have any children, I do have two sisters. I am 30 years old, grew up across the state in West Palm Beach, and earned my undergraduate degree from Florida State University in Religious Studies. Next I received my Theology degree from the Candler School of Theology, at Emory University in Atlanta, where I just graduated this past May. Pastor Ivan is a Candler graduate as well, so it is nice to keep that tradition going at Beach Methodist!”
You would think that being the daughter of a Pastor would make the Ministry a natural calling for her, but nothing could be further from the truth for Pastor Samantha. “I did not want to be a Pastor for the longest time,” she recalled. “But in looking back, it was just that I was not ready to accept it yet. After I graduated from Florida State University, I became a preschool teacher for three years and then worked in Orlando for another year, and it was about that time that I began to feel the call more consistently, but even then I continued to say ‘No.’ I think that Mom being a Pastor was actually part of my reluctance and I was also trying to negotiate with God, saying that I will look at being a part of the church but not as a Pastor, and I thought that might work out, but God had a different path in mind for me. Around three years ago, I admitted to myself that I finally had to accept God’s call.”
Beach United Methodist is Pastor Samantha’s first ministry. “This is my first opportunity to be a fulltime Pastor, so you can imagine my excitement level to be here! I actually received word about Beach United Methodist opportunity back in March and was thrilled, especially since the west coast of Florida is a new part of the state for me to explore! Soon I was speaking with Pastor Ivan, who was raving about this community, so that made me even happier.”
Welcome From a Distance
When discussing the Beach United Methodist Church congregation, “I am excited to see it continue to grow,” Pastor Samantha offered. “I am beginning here at the peak of the offseason as well as in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, so rather than getting to meet people face-to-face as would be my preference, I am doing so through a lot of telephone calls. Because Florida in general and Lee County specifically is going through a coronavirus spike right now, we will keep doing Bible Studies via ZOOM. While we met in person over the past three weeks, sadly I am going to return Beach United Methodist Church services to an online only basis for at least the remainder of July. While I wish I could begin my ministry here on a more personal level, the health, safety, and well-being of our parishioners as well as the community at large is our main responsibility, so I believe with all of my heart that doing this is the correct choice. As much as I want to see each and every member of our congregation as well as meeting other Fort Myers Beach neighbors, good health must remain the priority.”
While the coronavirus makes it difficult for Pastor Samantha to experience much of Fort Myers Beach right now, she already likes what she sees. “I enjoy it so far, as it has a different and unique kind of feel. It does help me that, growing up in West Palm Beach, I am used to being in a tourist area, so that is a good thing for me. Once the coronavirus becomes a thing of the past and everything can really open up safely again, I will become very involved in the Fort Myers Beach community.
“I already want to know much more about the historic Mound House, cannot wait to take part in the Beach Ministerial Association meetings, and I want to strengthen our partnership with the Beach Elementary School that I can see right outside the windows. I love to read so it is great that the Fort Myers Beach Public Library is our neighbor, and with the Bay Oaks Recreational Center adjacent to us, it seems like the Beach United Methodist Church has the perfect location!
“I am so happy to be here and can’t wait to meet more of our congregation as well as our Fort Myers Beach neighbors, as everything seems so amazing; I am excited to get to know the rhythm of this island!”