Trending Local: The Growing Role of Local Pastors

Local pastors — non-ordained, and in most cases without a seminary degree — are growing in number and taking on more roles in The United Methodist Church.


United Methodist News Services’s Sam Hodges provides coverage of the overall trend, the rapid growth of part-time local pastors, the use of local pastors in Hispanic outreach and the challenges faced by local pastors in in the Central Conferences.

He also profiles six part-time local pastors of the West Virginia Conference, including a grocer, a corrections officer and the 2013 state Teacher of the Year. 

Read all the stories in the UM News special report on the challenges and contributions of local pastors in The United Methodist Church.


The Rev. Arlene Jackson (speaking into microphone), a full-time local pastor, led the downtown Fort Myers campus of Grace Church to strong growth. Jackson recently got appointed to start a campus of Grace, a United Methodist church, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Photo courtesy of Grace Church.

Local pastors on the rise

Non-ordained, non-seminary-trained clergy are growing in number and serving in a variety of roles in The United Methodist Church.



The Rev. Earl Bible is pastor of four churches in the Mountains of West Virginia, including Whitmer United Methodist Church in Seneca Rocks. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Pastor named 'Bible' leads 4 mountain churches

At 78, he’s in his third decade of ministry, and still farming on the side. But he’s had to give up river baptisms.


The Rev. Mark Windley (right) prays with parishioner Jada Roarx at Amazing Grace Community of Faith in Louisville, Ky. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Part-time pastors claiming more pulpits

As ordained elder numbers decline, The United Methodist Church is depending more on bivocational and other part-time local pastors.


The Rev. Michael Funkhouser visits with student Jeremy Griffith at East Hardy Early Middle School in Baker, W.Va. Funkhouser is West Virginia's 2013 teacher of the year. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Teacher of the Year is part-time preacher

The Rev. Michael Funkhouser found fulfillment in classroom and pulpit.

 Lay pastor Raphaël Aboua serves Ebenezer Beago United Methodist Church in Abidjan and 10 other United Methodist Churches in Côte d’Ivoire. Photo by Isaac Broune, UM News.


Central conferences depend on local pastors

Challenges abound, but non-ordained clergy ‘swing the arms’ in faith.



The Rev. Don Rush is plant manager at Sistersville (W.Va.) Tank Works and a licensed local pastor in The United Methodist Church. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Plant manager ‘called home’ to preach

At district superintendent’s request, he added leading two churches to a busy life.



The Rev. Arturo “Artie” Cadar is a full-time local pastor recently appointed to lead CrossRoads United Methodist Church in Houston. CrossRoads was created by the merger of an aging, Anglo congregation and a younger, primarily Hispanic congregation founded by Cadar. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Arturo Cadar.

Local pastors lead Hispanic outreach

Conferences turn to non-elder clergy for help in reaching fast-growing demographic.


The Rev. Jamie Sprague and his wife, Kay, stand in front of Kanawha Chapel United Methodist Church in Davisville, W.Va., where Sprague serves as a licensed local pastor. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Lessons learned as grocer helped him lead churches

'I learned time management from Kroger,’ part-time pastor says.


The Rev. Bradley Barton is a correctional officer at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Belington, W.Va., and a licensed local pastor in The United Methodist Church. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

When jail shift ends, he’s off to preach

Corrections officer doesn’t always have time to change out of his uniform, but congregation understands.


 The Rev. Earl Bible invites parishioners to the cross during the Good Friday service at Whitmer United Methodist Church in Seneca Rocks, W.Va. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.


Slideshow: A look at local pastors

For a series about the growing importance of licensed local pastors, photographer Mike DuBose traveled around West Virginia and Kentucky and captured images of them in their churches.


Parishioners gather outside Talbott (W.Va.) United Methodist Church for the Easter sunrise service. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Parishioners gather outside Talbott (W.Va.) United Methodist Church for the Easter sunrise service. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.


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