Canterbury UMC
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Minister Biographies

Bill Morgan

Family: Bill is married to Dianne Weekley Morgan. They have two grown sons, Bailey and Andrew, both live nearby in Birmingham; Bailey works with a local business and Andrew with a local bank.

Areas of Ministry: As senior minister, Bill will tell you that 25+ years of preaching, teaching, and writing can be expressed in a one sentence faith statement: God’s grace in Jesus gives us the power and pattern to live with joy, serve with love, and die with hope. Short sentence. But if you get him talking about it, he goes on and on.

Educational Background: Bill received a BS from Birmingham-Southern College and his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Vanderbilt University.

Favorite Books: Faith application books by minister-authors Frederick Buechner, Barbara Brown Taylor, and John Claypool. 20th-century history by such writers as David Halberstam, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and William Manchester. Bill also delights every time that octogenarian British mystery writer P. D. James turns out another one. Plus, every day includes time with THE book.

Hobbies: Bill is an avid runner. He enjoys spending time with Dianne and their 70-pound black Labradoodle Jack. (Jack — another topic people around Canterbury know will get Bill talking.) He also enjoys going to movies with Bailey and Andrew.

Oliver W. Clark, Jr.
Family: Married to Elaine Clark; one son, David
Areas of Ministry: Oliver helps develop small groups as a means of training teachers and leaders and to help laypersons live out their faith in their daily vocations.
Educational Background: Oliver attended Georgia Tech and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College(BA), Duke University (M.Div), and Emory University (Doctor of Sacred Theology, D.S.T.).
Ministerial Background: Oliver has a wide variety of experiences in church service spanning 43 years. He was associate pastor at St. Michael’s Church (Scottish Presbyterian) in Dumfries, Scotland. He also has served at Anniston First Methodist, Highlands UMC (Birmingham), Forest Lake (Tuscaloosa), Lanett First Methodist, Valley (Huntsville), and East Lake (Birmingham). He served six years as a District Superintendent. Oliver also started Valley UMC (Huntsville) in 1965, and he served as a missionary with the Board of Global Ministries in Liberia, West Africa, from 1968-1971.
Favorite book: Simply Christian: Why Christianity makes Sense, by N. T. Wright
Hobbies: Oliver enjoys golfing, weight training, walking, and reading mystery novels.
Favorite verse: Mark 12: 28-31  One of the  scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that  he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?”  Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with  all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  There is no  other commandment greater than these."

Julie Blackwelder Holly
Family: Married to Rev. Michael Holly and have two children, Lena Holly and Davis Holly.
Origin: Grew up in Madison, Alabama.
Educational Background: B.S. degree in Psychology from Birmingham-Southern College in 2001. Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in 2004.
Ministerial Background: Worked as a ministry intern in several different small, rural churches during the three years at Duke, including churches in Waxhaw, Bailey, and Mooresville, North Carolina. Served as the Associate Pastor of Huffman UMC in Birmingham from 2004-2008. Served as the Pastor of Discovery UMC in Hoover from 2008-2013

Favorite Books: I read all kinds of things and just can't choose a favorite, but a classic that I go back to over and over again (reading it and watching the A&E version of the film) is Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice".
Hobbies:  Playing with my family, exercising, and taking naps as often as I can!
Favorite Verse: I just can't choose a favorite, but the verse my Bible was open to when I was ordained (thanks to June Hearin who came by just before and marked it for me) is Philippians 2:13, "for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
Dixon Mitchell
Family: married to Carolyn Mitchell
Areas of Ministry:
Minister of Counseling

Educational Background: Dixon graduated with a BA in Speech and English from the University of Alabama, a Master of Divinity from Emory, and a Masters of Education in Community Counseling from Auburn University. He received his Doctorate in Counseling and Psychology from Auburn as well. He completed a two-year post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania in cognitive therapy and is the only Founding Fellow in Cognitive Therapy in the state of Alabama.

Ministerial Background: Dixon served as Pastor at Camp Hill UMC, Rock Mills UMC, and Lineville First UMC. He has been Minister of Counseling at Canterbury since 1976. He also has been on the staff of the Carraway Hospital teaching faculty for 23 years.

Favorite Book: The Incomparable Christ by John Stott

Hobbies: Dixon enjoys fishing, hunting, Auburn football, and attending art shows with Carolyn, who is an award-winning wildlife artist.

Favorite Verse: Isaiah 40:31 “but they who wait for the lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Warren Nash

Family: Married to Valerie Nash; Three sons: Wilson (married to Callie Stone Nash), Graham, and Dixon

Areas of Ministry: Warren works closely with Canterbury's senior minister, Bill Morgan, in the overall institutional management of the church. He has specific responsibility for Canterbury's business affairs, directing the financial, property, personnel management, and legal issues of the church. He works directly with the Church Council, Finance Team, Trustees, Staff Parish, and the Canterbury Foundation.

Educational Background: Warren attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and holds a B.S. in Banking and Finance from Mississippi State. Graduate degrees include an M.B.A. from the University of Alabama in Birmingham and a Masters of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. Warren has completed graduate studies at The Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Georgetown.  

Ministerial Background: Warren is a “second-career” minister, entering the ministry after a 25-year career in banking which included running his own banking consulting firm. Warren joined Canterbury’s staff in 2001 and was ordained as a deacon in full-connection in 2008.

Hobbies: Warren is a private pilot and enjoys golf and scuba diving with his boys, as well as backpacking/high adventure trips with Canterbury’s Troop 63, where he serves as chaplain.

Leon Precise
Family: Married to Betsy; Two sons: John (married to Heather) and Scott (married to Jennifer). Four grandchildren: Hannah, Andrew, Leigh Ann, and Abby

Areas of Ministry:
• Minister to Older Adults
• oversees the Pastoral Care Log.

Educational Background: Leon received a BS from Birmingham-Southern College and his ME from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Ministerial Background: Leon joined Canterbury as soon as he graduated from seminary in 1969.

Hobbies: Leon enjoys working puzzles, playing with his grandchildren, watching sports of any kind, watching the Western channel on TV, reading, and going to the driving range with his grandson, Andrew.

Favorite Bible Verse: Micah 6:8  “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Drew Clayton
FamilyDrew is married to Joanna Clayton.
Areas of Ministy: Minister to Young Adults and New Members.
Education Background: Drew graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2007 with a B.A. in Religion and Psychology. In May, he completed his Masters of Divinity at Duke Divinity School.
Ministerial Background: Some of you may remember Drew, as he served as an intern here at Canterbury in 2009. While this is Drew's first full-time appointment, he has worked in the church in a variety of capacities. He served as a youth director in North Alabama in 2006 at Clay United Methodist Church. While at Duke, he served at an urban church in Houston one summer and most recently, a rural church in North Carolina. Drew also worked with the Admissions Office at Duke Divinity School, where he welcomed prospective students and helped guide them through their seminary discernment process.
Hobbies When he isn't reading or writing, Drew is an avid golfer and plays in Birmingham's Ultimate Frisbee League.

Sam Williamson
Family: Married to Paula; one daughter, Samantha; stepdaughter, Stephanie Fehn; stepson, Mark Fehn, Jr.
Areas of Ministry:
• Minister and Director of The Carpenter's Hands (a home repair ministry to low income families in Jefferson County)
• Disaster Response Team Leader
• Preaching, Teaching, Pastoral Care

Educational Background: Sam graduated from Birmingham-Southern College and received his Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
Ministerial Background: Prior to coming to Canterbury in 1995, Sam served at Anniston First UMC and Birmingham First UMC.

Hobbies: Sam relaxes by spending time on the open road riding his motorcycle. He enjoys most anything in the great outdoors.

Sheryl Thornton
Family: Married to Wes. We have two children, Danny and Sophie, and a 55 lb puppy named Lulu.
Areas of Ministry:
Radical Hospitality Ministries

Educational Background: After completing a BS degree in Finance at the University of Alabama, Sheryl attended Asbury Theological Seminary and received her MA in Christian Education. She is an Ordained Deacon in the UMC, and has served Helena, Vestavia Hills, and Canterbury.

Favorite Bible Verse: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  John 13:34

Influential Authors: Richard Foster, Brennan Manning, and Ron DelBene.

Hobbies: Sharing good conversation over a meal or cup of coffee, taking walks with the family and dog.