Ten complete 2019-20 Local Pastor Academy


Submitted by Academy organizers

On Saturday, May 2, ten persons including local pastors, certified lay ministers and lay servants, gathered as they have each month since September 2019  to attend the Academy of Leadership & Coaching – Local Pastors (LPA).  Instead of meeting at the conference office in Jackson, Tennessee, however, like church pastors and members everywhere, they met on the screen of a Zoom call.  And like churches making do with online worship, these dedicated pastors and leaders made the best of the situation as they listened to Dr. Joe Geary, retired clergy; Rev. Latricia Trull of McKenzie First United Methodist Church; and Elyse Bell, retired district staff; offer guidance on how to order the life of their churches.
This Zoom gathering was the tenth and final session for this year’s LPA. The LPA is the brainchild of Dr. Richard Clark and Rev. Harrell Nation Jr, district superintendents of the Memphis Conference in 2014. They recognized the need to provide additional training and encouragement for full- and part-time local pastors, certified lay ministers and lay servants who serve in the pastoral role.

The superintendents collaborated with Dr. Ed Trimmer of the Turner Center at Martin Methodist College (MMC) in Martin, Tennessee, and Rev. Tom Hazelwood, then director of Connectional Ministries (DCM). Together, they designed a series of monthly meetings for up to 15 persons providing workshops on preaching, pastoral care, missional engagement, conflict management and other relevant topics. 

Dr. Rick Kirchoff and Dr. Harry Durbin of the Clergy Coaching Network were integrally involved in the planning and agreed to provide one-on-one coaching sessions for the participants. Geary followed Hazelwood as DCM of the Memphis Conference and gave leadership in coordinating, facilitating and teaching the academy for five years.
For the past two cohorts, Rev. Allen Stanton of the Turner Center and Rev. John Collett, director of church relations at MMC have taught and mentored the participants. This past year they were joined by Rev. Tom Laney, director the Turner Center for Church Leadership in Nashville, and Elyse Bell former lay resource leader of the Tennessee River District.

Over the years, 84 persons from the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences have completed the program and early this month were joined by:

  • Mickey Lewis—Davis Chapel UMC (Carroll Co)
  • Rhonda Crawford—New Hope UMC (Carroll Co)
  • David Barnett—Palestine, Sorrell’s Chapel UMC (Gibson Co)
  • Joe Bishop—Hickory Flat, Pleasant Hill (Carroll Co) Lebanon (Madison Co) UMC Charge  
  • Shani Campbell—Paris First UMC Healing Ministry (Henry Co)
  • Mary Ellen Cochran—Maury City UMC (Crockett Co)
  • James Ellington—Lester’s Chapel UMC (Madison Co)
  • Jerry Creasy—Mt. Pleasant, Faith UMC (Lauderdale Co)
  • Dorothy Steele—Wesley Chapel UMC (Madison Co)
  • Jean Smith—New Hope, Melville, Edith UMC Charge (Lauderdale Co)
Among the comments from participant evaluations are these: 
  • This class contained valuable information.
  • Thank you for your time and effort. The LPA is a wonderful thing. I enjoyed every moment.
  • Excellent training---should be required of all pastors. I think LPA was better for me than OTM
  • This was an excellent learning and sharing experience. There is a lot of teaching and work to be done in the local church in developing our vision and putting our mission into action, and the mission of The United Methodist Church. All presenters were great! Is this Academy available and required for all pastors? It should be!
  • Helped me take a step forward. Thank you!
  • Thanks for all of this. It was extremely helpful and motivating. I appreciated everyone’s contributions!
  • This was beneficial training and gave me the opportunity to work together with other clergy and laity to know and share experiences.