Robert Bledsoe has been appointed by the Florida United Methodist Conference to Cypress Lake UMC as an associate pastor. He will begin serving at Cypress Lake on July 1. In The United Methodist Church, clergy appointments are made annually by the bishop, who has the responsibility for setting all the pastoral appointments in the conference. This unique system of assigning clergy dates back to John Wesley. The bishop and the cabinet (all district superintendents in the conference) look at appointment needs throughout the conference, taking into consideration the needs of each church, the gifts and talents of each pastor, and other circumstances in the conference.

Pastor Thom and Pastor Joe will remain in their current roles as Senior Pastor and Director of Contemporary Worship & Congregational Care.

Erick and Tracie Ashley have been appointed to serve churches elsewhere in the Florida Conference; Erick will be senior pastor at Grace Community UMC in Lithia, and Tracie will be senior pastor at Emmanuel UMC in Bradenton. We have been blessed to have the Ashleys share their gifts with us over the last year, and they will be deeply missed.

At the same time, we are excited to welcome the Bledsoes to our congregation and into our family. Learn more about Robert and his wife Jessica in their own words…


Robert lived in Ocala, Florida until he went to Florida Southern College in Lakeland, where he earned a bachelor of science in business administration. He was extremely active in campus ministry, greek life, and student government. He also served as a campus tour guide and orientation leader for new students. All of that is not nearly as important as the fact that he met his wife Jessica there. Believe it or not, Jessica was the first girl he met when he got to campus. It truly was love at first sight!

Since then Robert has been attending Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC pursuing his Masters of Divinity. He loves to meet new people, work as a team member to complete projects, and do everything he can to make sure all feel welcomed and loved. Robert is a communicator, an organizer, and loves teaching. He has interned at churches in Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina of all different sizes. Robert also worked as a chaplain at Duke Hospital in the oncology unit as well as an intern at World Relief Durham, a refugee resettlement agency. Lastly, Robert loves to golf, play tennis, and fish (if you ask him, he will join you!)


Jessica grew up, well, in a whole lot of places. Her father served twenty-six years active duty in the Army. She was born in Germany and lived in Italy and eight other states until arriving at Florida Southern College. There she was involved in the same groups and activities as Robert while earning a bachelor of science in sociology with a minor in religion. She then attended George Mason University to earn her Master of Social Work. After graduating with her second degree she got married to Robert and moved to Durham. While there she has led the Duke Divinity Spouse Group, hosted many events for friends and family, and worked a full-time job as a nanny for two children. She is searching for jobs in southwest Florida. Shameless plug – if anyone knows of anyone looking for a very qualified social worker please let us know! She loves people, always has a smile on her face, and will do anything for anyone. Jessica also loves being outdoors (especially near water), crafting, and helping people.

To say it has been a busy past few years would be an understatement! Jessica and I are extremely excited to get back to Florida and meet each of you. We have been praying for you, and we ask that you do the same. We believe that we have been called to CLUMC and cannot wait to see all that is to come in the next few years. See everyone in a few weeks!


With love and excitement,

Robert and Jessica