Women Making History: Debra Wallace-Padgett

Original Article May Be Found Here:  Debra Wallace-Padgett

In 1987, Congress designated the month of March that year as “Women’s History Month.” The annual observance continues to this day. United Methodist News Service invited several women, both lay and clergy, in The United Methodist Church to share their stories. Here is the response from Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, elected to the episcopacy in 2012. She serves the North Alabama Episcopal Area.

3:00 P.M. ET March 14, 2013 | BIRMINGHAM, Ala.

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and her husband, Lee, leave Canterbury United Methodist Church after her installation service Oct. 7, 2012, in Birmingham, Ala. Photo courtesy of Dee Moore Photography.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and her husband, Lee, leave Canterbury United Methodist Church after her installation service Oct. 7, 2012, in Birmingham, Ala. 
Photo courtesy of Dee Moore Photography. 

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I was born in a small community in eastern Kentucky called Buchanan. It is a rural area nestled in the foothills of Appalachia. Family, church, neighbors and a small school were at the center of the community.

I have wonderful childhood memories of immediate and extended family gatherings. We would gather around the dinner table, at church, at the ball field and in numerous other places. The point was not what we did or where we were but that we were together, enjoying each other’s company, stories, laughter and encouragement.

I also remember playing sandlot basketball, football and baseball with cousins, siblings and neighbors. We would play the sport of the season for hours after school, on the weekends and during the summer.

I recall with fondness the two-room school where I received the first years of my education. Though it educated children through junior high, when I entered the third grade, my parents sent my siblings and me to a larger elementary school in a town called Louisa, which was about 20 minutes away. The primary reason … was to ensure that we had opportunities to experience extracurricular activities. They spent many hours on the road between Buchanan and Louisa during my elementary, junior high and high school years transporting us to piano lessons, ballgames, dance lessons and band.

From there, I went to Berea (Ky.) College, where I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education; Scarritt College and Graduate School, Nashville, Tenn. (Master of Arts, Christian education); Lexington Theological Seminary (M. Div.); and Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky. (D. Min.).

I am married to the Rev. Lee Padgett, a United Methodist deacon, who is in his last month of a 24-year position as executive director of Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center, Ravenna, Ky. We have two children, Leanndra, 21, and Andrew, 18.

Q: In what local church did you grow up?

A: I grew up in the Prichard Memorial United Methodist Church, which became the Bear Creek United Methodist Church upon being relocated to the geographical center of Buchanan. My father was the pastor, and my mother was very active in this small-membership church where my faith was initially formed. My positive experience in that congregation has caused me to appreciate the life-shaping influence that healthy, small-membership churches can have on the lives of their members.

Q: What are your gifts and how do you share them with the church?

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett. Photo courtesy of Debra Wallace-Padgett.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett
Photo courtesy of 
Debra Wallace-Padgett. 

A: I believe that God’s Holy Spirit gives each Christ-follower what we need to fulfill our calling. In my current role as bishop in North Alabama, primary gifts that I am utilizing are leadership, faith and encouragement.

Q: How do you nurture others, especially girls and women, through the church and in other aspects of your life?

A: Sometimes my vantage point allows me to see gifts in a person that they may not see in themselves. Other times, they recognize their giftedness but lose sight of it in the midst of life’s challenges. As opportunities arise, I try to extend nurture to such persons via notes or conversations about the gifts that I see in them.

I also encourage others to expose themselves to the larger world. Education, travel, conferences and books are some of the ways that life-changing doors are opened for persons. When feasible, I also suggest or offer them opportunities to use their gifts to make a difference.

QWhy is Women’s History Month important to you?

A: Positive examples of women who have made a difference in the world have inspired me over the years. By lifting up such examples, Women’s History Month helps all of us to enlarge our vision of who, by the grace of God, we can be.

This interview was conducted by Barbara Dunlap-Berg, internal content editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. Contact Dunlap-Berg at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Original Article May Be Found Here:  Debra Wallace-Padgett


The Peloton

[Original Article on UMM’s Official Blog:  The Peloton]

Posted on Aug 7th, 2012 at 11:19 AM

By Rich Peck

Peloton is a French word for cyclist riding together in a group.

Since cyclists in the front break the wind, those in the middle of a peloton work only 30 to 40 percent as hard as the leaders. That’s a major energy-saving factor.

Little wonder that cyclists take turns leading the peloton and it is no surprise that cyclists who break away from the group seldom stay in front for long.

Pelotons traditionally catch up with foolish cyclists who risk peddling on their own.

Even if three or four cyclists try to cooperate on a breakaway, they are later tracked down by the larger group.

Winning cyclists generally stay near the front of a peloton to reduce the chance of being involved in a crash, but they don’t try to breakaway until they are very close to the finish line. Teammates who know their leader is a better sprinter will frequently take the lead to save the energy of their faster teammate.

The peloton teaches us the advantage of participating in a group. When a man decides he can go it alone, he will frequently find the winds of doubt, frustration, and misfortunes buffet him and he tires quickly. He may decide the race is too difficult and find ways to escape the ordeal.

When, however, there are others who take their turns facing those difficulties, bitter winds seem less daunting.

Some men are able to stay in front of the peloton longer than others. And some are better at sprinting at the last moment. The group succeeds when each member knows his role and no individual decides he doesn’t’ have to take the lead at some point.

In his letter to the church members in Corinth, St. Paul talks about the various roles men can play in the larger group. (I Corinthians 12: 12-27).


1 Corinthians 12:12-27, King James Version (KJV)

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Commitment to Healthy Marriage

[Original found here:  Make a Commitment to Healthy Marriage]

Posted by DC Admin on January 22nd, 2013 — Posted in miscellaneous

Everyone strives for it, everyone wants it, but not many people have it?what is it? A happy marriage! Having a happy marriage is up to you and your willingness to work at it. Marriage is not always going to be like the fairytales we have been programmed to expect, but if you are willing to work at it, it can be very close to that!

Many times people get married thinking that they are going to continue living in the fantasy land they had when they were dating. What they do not consider sometimes is the fact that real life can be hard. Bills will come, kids will come and things will get difficult at times. Have you ever seen your boyfriend sick, or have you ever seen all his bad habits? Once you marry you will find out all of each other?s little secrets. Some things will make you laugh and others will get on your last nerve. Generally people are already set in their ways before they get married even if they are young. This is because we are all individuals and we all do things differently.

If you keep in mind the little things that will come up and bother you and are willing to love your spouse no matter what, you will have a happy marriage. You must be willing to compromise and work on things together as a team. I would recommend if you are thinking about getting married that you have some form of premarital counseling so that you can get started off on the right foot. You will learn a lot about each other during these types of counseling sessions.

Telling God Stories

Telling God Stories -€” Issue #128

by Betsey Heavner

This is an excerpt from a PDF download. To download the full text of this document click: Telling God Stories.

“In the airport, I was feeling pretty smug about sacrificing my vacation week for clean-up work in Haiti. Once on the airplane, I looked around and realized the plane was full of other people doing the same thing. God was right there dealing with my pride and showing me how we all need to care for each other.” As a member told this “God Story” one Wednesday night, the people at First United Methodist Church in Benton, Kentucky, nodded as they recognized the power of God’s presence in this story and in their own lives.

The telling of “God Stories” began when one small study group decided to act on a challenge from the study material and developed a plan to increase faith sharing in the congregation. They approached the worship committee with the idea of including a three- to five-minute “God Story” in Sunday morning worship. Individuals are scheduled in advance so that they have time to collect their thoughts.

Another way of increasing faith sharing has been created with a slight change to the Sunday morning reporting of joys and concerns. Now the leaders ask, “Where have you seen God at work this week?”

As a next step, the congregation added “God Stories” to the informal worship time during the Wednesday evening programming. Younger people seem to especially appreciate hearing how people experience God in their daily lives.

As the church has shared stories with intentionality, personal faith sharing and regular attendance have increased. Led by the example of others’ stories, volunteers of all ages are coming forward to ask for a turn to tell their God stories.

Lost In Wonder – An On-Line Labyrinth by the UMC

Welcome to Lost in Wonder

You are warmly invited to journey through the ten stages of this on-line labyrinth, devised by the Methodist Church, but offered to all.

A labyrinth is an ancient spiritual tool that leads the traveller along a meditative path. Through images, words, music and actions we hope that you are able to consider your spiritual journey and be inspired and challenged.

Appropriate help for each stage of the Labyrinth
Will take you back to the map of the Labyrinth
Reveals the Priorities of the Methodist Church, highlighting the prioirity with most relevance at each stage
Will take you to the next stage of the Labyrinth

At the end of the Labyrinth you will find a notice board full of information and ideas. This might help you to explore further some of the things that you have experienced in Lost in Wonder. There is also a space to send us your comments – please let us know what you think; we would love to hear from you. 

Visit Lost in Wonder

You will need to have audio turned on on your computer.

Text version of Lost in Wonder (PDF)

Growing the Church

Original Article Found Here:  Growing the Church

I’m Done “Growing the Church”

Posted on February 7, 2013 by 
pew!Pews. Stop filling them. (Photo credit: boxchain)

Yes, you read that right. I’m done.

No more outreach strategies to fill the pews. No more ideas to draw young people. No more switching out the hard stuff for lighter fare in hopes that we will appeal to a larger audience.

No more “growing the church.”

It seems that every time I sit down to think of ways to lead people to Jesus, I find a new way to “align a program” or “bring focus to an issue” — or worse, I find good people who mistakenly think that my job is to be a chaplain, or just their “professional visitor.” Gotta get those visitors to close the deal and join up.

Too many people think that mission of the Church is to swell the ranks and fill the pews. Too many people think that this task is my job. Too many people find me a failure for not getting this done.

So. No more just “growing the church.”

Unless. Unless you mean something different when you say, “Grow, Church.”

Perhaps you mean, “Growing in Grace.” Perhaps the church is learning to become more mature about forgiveness. Maybe that would mean that the churches in the USA would be more willing to reach across boundaries of age, race, gender, and politics (yeah, I said it) in order to develop real relationships.

I would love to grow that church.

Maybe you mean, “Growing in Love.” That could mean that the church is learning to become more selfless. That could turn into giving our time and our money to help people who are in a bad way — even people we don’t think really deserve it.

I could see myself growing a cool church like that.

Maybe you mean “Growing in Depth.” Would that mean that people were learning to accept their flaws without glossing them over? Would that mean an outbreak of patience and kindness that only comes from realizing that we are all screwed up in one way or another, and God loves us anyway? Would that mean that folks realized that they are unqualified to do ministry – just like the minister – and would commit to doing ministry anyway? Would that mean that you realized the value of what you have in Christ is too valuable to not give it away?

I would give my right arm to grow that church.

What do you mean when you say, “Grow the church?” Because if you are looking for growth strategies that capitalize on market demographics and creative sales pitches, I’m probably busy that day you want to talk.

What do you mean when you say, “Grow the church?” Because if you are trying to find ways to impress kids, add some flash to your worship, and pray that they will give enough to pay for the brand new $2.3 million, 2500 seat worship center, I’ve got another appointment to keep.

But if you mean that you are interested in growing disciples into deeply committed Christians, let me invite you to pull up a chair, stop pulling out your hair, give up on pulling up your own bootstraps, and let’s get down to brass tacks.

Back to Roots – Article of History

[Original found here:  Touring Methodist Historical Sites]

Wesleyan Wisdom: Back to roots – Touring Methodist historical sites


A number of people have written to tell me they plan (or wish) to go on a Methodist heritage tour, retracing the steps of John Wesley from his birthplace in Epworth to his grave on City Road in London. This is a very rewarding experience; I have made the trip seven times, always learning something new and feeling newly inspired—though we must guard against making an icon of the man to whom we owe so much.

Let us review some of the places that carry potential for theological reflection, spiritual revitalization or missional re-visioning.

If you are planning a Methodist tour, try not to begin in London. Most people have difficulty keeping their timeline straight if they jump around from St. Paul’s Cathedral to Aldersgate to Wesley’s Chapel and his grave, before traveling 165 miles to his birthplace. Rather let us walk more or less chronologically.

Wesley was born in rural, northeastern England, an area considered remote by Londoners then and now. Epworth, in the county of Lincolnshire, is a small village where the streets are still laid out much as in Wesley’s day. Called “fen” country, it is a swampy region where the original roads were dredged from wetlands and often impassable. Much of the year, the village was surrounded by marsh.

Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church in Epworth is a recommended site for a tour of John Wesley’s England. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The Wesley ancestry was aristocratic. His great grandfather, Bartholomew Westley, was an Oxford graduate and pastor of a Puritan church in the time of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth (1649-1661). John and Charles’ grandfather, John Westley, also a minister, finished Oxford at age 22 and was given a “living” (church, land, tenants, rectory and stipend). Both these clergy were expelled from their pulpits in 1662, when King Charles II was restored to the monarchy.

John Wesley’s father, Samuel, entered Oxford in 1683 and rejected the Dissenter theology of his elders, changing his name from Westley to Wesley. Samuel worked his way through college by waiting on wealthy students as a “servitor.” He finished his education in 1688, the year of the “Glorious Revolution” when Parliament took over the country, inviting William and Mary to come from Holland and reign—on Parliament’s terms.

Also in 1688, Samuel married Susanna Annesley, the daughter of a Dissenter clergyman. Susanna mastered four languages, home-schooled all her children and had more parishioners in her small group than Samuel had in church. Samuel, a high Anglican churchman, was never popular in Epworth; indeed, the laity wanted him out so much that they set fire to the rectory when little John was 5 years old, “a brand plucked from the burning”! After her husband’s death in 1735, Susanna reclaimed much of her evangelical, Dissenter family heritage and was involved in the early Methodist movement before she died in 1742. She is buried in the Dissenter’s Graveyard in London, across the street from Wesley House and in sight of John’s study window.

You can tour the rectory in Epworth. When you are there, go upstairs and look eastward toward St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. Samuel was landlord of all the pastures and fields from the rectory to the church. You can see where John was born, the window where he was rescued from the fire, and the kitchen where Susanna taught her children and led the small group.

Both parents were very strict and expressed little emotion in their parenting. At age 11, John was sent to London to attend Charterhouse, a boarding prep school where his tuition was paid by a nobleman friend of the family. John was never cuddled, never coddled. Once when John signed a letter to his mother, “Your Affectionate Son,” she responded, “The conclusion of your letter is very kind. . . . But I know myself enough to rest satisfied with a moderate degree of your affection. It would be unjust in me to desire the love of anyone.”

In your itinerary, go from Epworth to Oxford University. Wesley never really “sowed wild oats,” but he was not a prude either. At 17, while attending Christ Church—the largest and most prestigious of all the 37 Oxford colleges—he blossomed and was described as “gay, sprightly, full of wit and humor.” His auburn hair was shoulder length; he loved to dance and went to many parties, but to communion only three times in his freshman year!

By 1724, however, he was struggling with a call to ordained ministry and his mother encouraged him in her correspondence. His first theological decision was to reject predestination, the prevailing theology of the Oxford “divines.” After undergraduate school, John was elected as a teaching fellow at Lincoln College of Oxford. In 1729, after a brief stint as his father’s parish associate, Wesley returned to his teaching at Lincoln and quickly became the leader of the “Oxford Methodists,” a group derisively dubbed “The Holy Club.”

He intended to stay on the Oxford faculty for life, but was struggling constantly with the state of his soul as he devotedly pursued what he called “holiness of heart and life.” He had much the mentality and lifestyle of a monk. Samuel died in 1735 and four months later, John and Charles boarded a ship going to the British colony in Savannah, Ga., where John served as pastor of an Anglican church and Charles was personal secretary to General James Oglethorpe. Once again, though, the parish turned out to not be Wesley’s “cup of tea.”

In your itinerary, you should now go to London, starting with St. Paul’s Cathedral and moving on to Aldersgate Street. Wesley returned to London in February 1738, and on behalf of himself and his brother Charles, said to their new Moravian friend Peter Bohler, “Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.” Wesley was under the spiritual, theological and psychological influence of the Moravians throughout the next few months until his experience at Aldersgate on May 24, 1738, when he wrote, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

The next column will detail the beginning of the Methodist revival. Your itinerary will include Bristol, in the “West Country,” and then back to London for study of the Foundery and Wesley Chapel.

Dr. Haynes is a retired member of the Western North Carolina Conference.

He is the author of On the Threshold of Grace: Methodist Fundamentals. Email: dhaynes11@triad.rr.com.