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 Lake Junaluska Summer Worship Series Leadership


Theme: Psalms of our Times

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure is lost to the Christian church. With its recovery will come unexpected power.” This summer, we rediscover the powerful experience of the Psalms – coupling them with Gospel texts and moving through them in a way that reflects how many of us actually experience the life of faith. We’ll start with psalms that capture the words we say to God when life is stable and the world seems trustworthy. Then we’ll dig into a few that voice our experience when we feel disoriented by the chaos of the world. Finally, the Psalms will call us once again to solid ground, but with an acknowledgement of the challenges that underscores our journey of faith. Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it?

Joshua Kurtz will speak during the kick-off event for the Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska

Rev. Joshua Kurtz

Sunday, June 9 | 7 p.m., Memorial Chapel

Starting this year, Lake Junaluska’s Summer Worship kick-off service is dedicated to featuring a young preacher – one you may not yet know, but whose gifts of proclamation show great promise. At this “Young Voices” service, we also commission the Lake Junaluska Youth Ministry Staff and the Lake Junaluska Singers for their summer ministries.

Rev. Joshua Kurtz serves in Ramseur, N.C. as the pastor of Jordan Memorial United Methodist Church.  Joshua is married to his middle school sweetheart Tara and they have two boys: Wesley (5) and Micah (3).

He is passionate about forming holy friendships and deepening community in unexpected ways.  He earned an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Religious Studies from Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, N.C.

Joshua enjoys playing guitar, singing, jogging and watching Duke basketball. 

Bishop Kenneth Carter will speak during the Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska

Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.

Sunday, June 16

Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. is resident bishop of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Along with the cabinet, he gives pastoral and administrative leadership to almost 800 congregations, fresh expressions of church, campus ministries and outreach initiatives in an episcopal area that stretches from Tallahassee and Jacksonville to Miami and the Florida Keys. He came to the Florida Conference in 2012, following a ministry of almost thirty years in Western North Carolina - twenty-nine as a local church pastor.

Bishop Carter also serves as the president of the UMC Council of Bishops.  He is author of ten books, most recently "Fresh Expressions: A New Kind of Methodist Church" (with Audrey Warren) and "Embracing the Wideness: The Shared Convictions of United Methodists."  

Bishop Carter and his wife, Pam (also an ordained UMC elder) have been married for thirty-seven years and are blessed with two adult daughters, Liz and Abby.

Bishop Paul Leeland will speak during the Summer Worship Series as part of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference at Lake Junaluska

Bishop Paul L. Leeland

Western NC Annual Conference Closing Service

Sunday, June 23 | 10:30 a.m.

Bishop Paul L. Leeland is resident Bishop of the UMC’s Western North Carolina Conference. Previously, he served as bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference for the past eight years. He also served in the UMC North Carolina Conference for 33 years, including service as the superintendent of the Goldsboro District, Assistant to the Bishop, and Director of Ministerial Relations.

In 2007, he was the recipient of the Red Shoe Award, presented by clergywomen of the North Carolina Conference for “encouragement and support of women in ministry through advocacy, appointment, mentoring and friendship.”

Rev. Dr. Connie Shelton at Lake Junaluska's Summer Worship Series

Rev. Dr. Connie Shelton

Sunday, June 30

Preacher, teacher, team builder, tactician, Rev. Dr. Connie Mitchell Shelton serves as superintendent and chief missional strategist of the UMC, East Jackson District of the Mississippi Annual Conference. She previously served as director of connectional ministries for the conference; director of field education, Duke Divinity School; executive director of The United Methodist Hour; and pastor of several UMC churches throughout Mississippi.

Connie has a bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television and Film (University of Southern Mississippi); master’s in Public Relations (University of Southern Mississippi); Master of Divinity (Duke University Divinity School); Doctor of Ministry (Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA).

Connie is married to Rev. Dr. Joey Shelton who serves at Millsaps College as chaplain and director of church relations. They have two daughters, Bailey, 21, who is a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi, and Jessica, 16, who is an 11th grader. 

Priscilla Pope-Levison will speak during the Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska

Rev. Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison

Sunday, July 7

Rev. Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison is associate dean for external programs, clergy member in the West Ohio Annual Conference of the UMC and professor of ministerial studies at Perkins School of Theology, SMU. She has a passion for women’s studies and her interdisciplinary publications combine theology, gender studies, church history and mission and evangelism. She has also held positions at Duke Divinity School and Seattle Pacific University. She earned a Ph.D. at University of St. Andrews, Scotland; an M.Div. at Duke Divinity School and a B.A. at DePauw University.

She is married to Dr. Jack Levison, the W. J. A. Power Chair of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew at Perkins School of Theology, SMU. The couple serve as featured speakers at a retreat at Lake Junaluska July 8-9.

Rev. Kevin Wright will speak during the Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska

Rev. Kevin Wright

Sunday, July 14

Rev. Kevin Wright (UMC) is the chief program officer at Urban Arts Partnership, a dynamic non-profit organization that improves academic outcomes, graduation rates, artistic growth and social-emotional learning for underserved students. He was formerly the executive minister of programs at The Riverside Church in New York City where he oversaw the congregation’s efforts to serve the poor, help people become followers of Jesus and create spaces where people could form meaningful community together.

He has worked in a variety of church and campus ministry settings across the country. He earned his M. Div. from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree from Indian Wesleyan University. He is a much-beloved speaker at Lake Junaluska’s Summer Youth Events and is the featured speaker, July 10-14, 2019.

Rev. Dr. Jerusha Neal will speak during the Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska

Rev. Dr. Jerusha Neal

Sunday, July 21

Rev. Dr. Jerusha Neal is assistant professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School and author of "Blessed: Monologues for Maryand the forthcoming book, "The Overshadowed Preacher," which asks the sticky question of what we mean when we say preaching is “anointed.”

Neal is an ordained American Baptist minister with broad ecumenical experience, most recently serving as a Global Ministries missionary to the Fiji Islands through the United Methodist Church. In Fiji, she worked as dean of studies at Davuilevu Theological College.

A popular keynote preacher, Neal is committed to encouraging the voices of young preachers — and particularly the voices of women — in the risky proclamation of gospel hope. Read more about Neal here.

Rev. Mark Ralls will speak during the Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska

Rev. Dr. Mark Ralls

Sunday, July 28

The Rev. Dr. Mark Ralls is senior pastor of First United Methodist Church (UMC) in Hendersonville, N.C. Before that, he was senior minister of Centenary UMC in Winston-Salem, Asbury First UMC in Rochester, N.Y, and several churches throughout the UMC Western NC Conference.

He is the co-author of "Is This All There Is? And Other Big Questions about God and Life," and is one of the creators of the Beginnings series of courses introducing Christian beliefs and practices. He has also preached for the popular national radio program, Day 1.

Ralls earned a bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, an M.Div. from Duke University Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. In his early years, he spent summers at Lake Junaluska.

Charley Reeb will speak during the Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska

Rev. Dr. Charley Reeb

Sunday, August 4

Charley Reeb is the Senior Pastor at Johns Creek UMC in Johns Creek, Georgia. He previously served as Senior Pastor of Pasadena Community Church (UMC) in St. Pete, Florida. Charley has a passion for preaching and loves helping other preachers hone their craft. Charley teaches the practice of preaching for the Course of Study at Candler School of Theology and the License to Preach School for the Florida Conference of the UMC.

Besides being a pastor and teacher, Charley is also author of five books: "Seven Wonders of the Faith, One Heaven of a Party, Mission Possible" (CSS), "That’ll Preach! 5 Simple Steps to Your Best Sermon Ever(Abingdon Press), and "Say Something! Simple Ways to Make Your Sermons Matter" (Abingdon Press). He is also a contributing writer for the Feasting on the Word commentary (Westminster John Knox Press). Charley has written articles for Circuit RiderPreaching magazine, Ministry Matters, and Leading Ideas. He is also a frequent preacher on the national radio program Day1. Charley leads preaching workshops and is a popular speaker at conferences and events.