Signal's biggest church growing its staff

Signal's biggest church growing its staff

September 5th, 2012 Lindsay Burkholder in Local Regional News

Signal Crest United Methodist Church is adding two new members to its pastoral staff: Beth Sullivan and Barry Kidwell. Though they come from different backgrounds, each contributes something unique to the church's community.

While Sullivan's role is largely educational, Kidwell is often out in the field ministering to at-risk urban populations.

Signal Crest United Methodist Church has two new members on its pastoral staff, Beth Sullivan, pictured, and Barry Kidwell.

Photo by Lindsay Burkholder

"Everybody kind of brings a different perspective," Sullivan said, describing how the church's administration works.

Sullivan, 29, has been involved in ministry for much of her life, helping out with whatever was needed at the church where she grew up, Hixson United Methodist Church.

She graduated from Hixson High School and got her undergraduate degree in finance and accounting from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

After spending several years in the financial and banking industry, Sullivan decided it was time to go to seminary.

"I do truly believe that ministry is a calling," she said. "I do believe that it was God's influence in my life that brought me here - just a desire to reach people for God; to be able to share my life, my story and to help others see that same thing."

In 2009, Sullivan attended the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Ga. Shortly thereafter, she was appointed to Signal Crest United Methodist Church.

"[I pick] curriculum and that kind of thing that will help people enhance their own walk with God and help them share that with others," she said.

Both Sullivan and Kidwell are passionate about their work.

"I have always loved seeing people rise up out of the ashes of life to walk in the beautiful life that God has planned for them," said Kidwell.

Born in New Orleans but raised in Cleveland, Tenn., Kidwell, 54, got an undergraduate degree in sociology at Lee University and earned his Master of Divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary. In addition, he did a Sustaining Urban Ministries program in Boston to facilitate his work in the urban areas surrounding Signal Mountain.

Kidwell has been in ministry for 33 years, a path he was inspired to follow by his junior high Sunday school teachers.

His determination to reach those in need hasn't diminished over the years.

"Our ministry focuses on Isaiah 61:1-4 and Luke 4's call to go to the broken and poor and offer them the hope of Christ," Kidwell said. "We believe that race, socioeconomics or nothing else should cause lines of division in the Church."

Both he and Sullivan agree the Signal Mountain community is a godsend.

"This community is amazing. In the two months I've been here it's been incredible," Sullivan said.