Three United Methodist pastors who served Chattanooga churches at different points in their careers will be elevated to the position of district superintendent at the denomination's Holston Annual Conference in June.
The Rev. Nathan Malone, currently senior pastor of Burks United Methodist Church, is projected to lead the Knoxville District, according to Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. The Rev. Joe Green, who was pastor of Fort Oglethorpe UMC 1980-1991, is expected to head the Cleveland District. And the Rev. Walter Weikel, who was an associate pastor at Tyner UMC 1990-1994 and pastor of Trenton (Ga.) UMC 1994-1999, is projected to lead the Johnson City District.
Malone, pastor of Burks since 2007, said it has "been wonderful to be in ministry for our Lord Jesus Christ alongside" the congregation of the Hixson church.
"They are a people with a heart to serve those in need and a desire to connect others with Jesus Christ," he said. "They have also ministered to me and my family in many ways, not the least of which was allowing me the time necessary to help care for my father before he died 17 months ago."
Green, who has been senior pastor of First UMC in Alcoa since 1995, said his tenure at Fort Oglethorpe included helping move the church from the former Army post chapel on Highway 27 to Battlefield Parkway and helping start a contemporary worship service "when contemporary wasn't cool."
"That one appointment taught me a lot about the preached and taught word and its power to not only change people but churches," he said. "I saw an older church become a young vibrant church touching a community for Christ."
Weikel, senior pastor at Abingdon UMC in Abingdon, Va., said his initial back-to-back appointments in the Chattanooga District gave him exposure to two types of congregations.
"I feel that beginning my ministry in an urban setting with such a supportive and helpful senior minister [in the Rev. Harold Ray] and congregation gave me a broader vision of church work than I might otherwise have had," he said. "Harold included me in just about every significant decision made and exposed me to every form of ministry. The Tyner church was also very supportive and forgiving."
While he was at Trenton, Weikel said, the church built a family life center and started an alternative worship service. When he headed a countywide benevolence fund, "my eyes were opened to a host of poverty issues," he said.
"Both of those contexts," he said, "will help me in my new setting."
Malone, 50, said he felt fortunate to learn from a variety of pastors, district superintendents and members at all the churches he served.
"Through times of both caring and conflict through the years," he said, "I have learned much about what it means to be in relationship with both God and people. With God's help, I will share those lessons as well as continue to learn from and serve alongside both pastors and churches in this part of the church known as United Methodist."
Green, 62, whose wife, Beth, was an on-air personality with radio station US 101 when he served Fort Oglethorpe, said he hopes to transfer the lessons he learned as a pastor to the district level.
"I have a minister friend who taught me years ago that church growth begins at the feet of Jesus," he said. "If I can stay in that place, I sincerely believe God will bless this new opportunity."
Weikel, 50, whose grandfather, M.C. Weikel, also served as a United Methodist district superintendent, also fondly remembered his time in Chattanooga because his first two children with his wife, Lisa, were born here.
"We loved beginning our professional lives in Chattanooga," he said. "The Chattanooga area gave [us] exposure to urban and rural ministry."
All three appointments will be effective on June 13.