A graduate of McNairy Central High School (1977) and Lambuth College (B.A., 1981), Joy married in Dan in 1982. Together, as an early clergy couple, they graduated Duke University (M.Div., 1985) and were ordained Elders in 1987. They are proud parents of three grown children: Isaac, 28, (Denver); Shelby, 26, (Jackson, married to J Whitaker, 27) and Will, 23 (Chattanooga). Dan and Joy welcomed their first grandchild, Henry James Whitaker, born in May.
Among the first women ordained as Elders in the Memphis Conference (1987), Joy has rich and varied experience as a United Methodist pastor. After seminary, her first full-time appointment was the two-point, Clopton-Macedonia charge in Tipton County. She served on staff at the county-seat church of Covington First; as a chaplain at Lakeside Behavioral Hospital, as founding director of Hannah’s Hope, (our Memphis Annual Conference adoption agency) and as Superintendent of the Jackson District. Most recently she has pastored Selmer First, her home congregation. Joy has developed gifts for building positive relationships and empowering strategic, administrative leadership to pastorally care and enthuse others.
After serving six years on the bishop’s cabinet as a District Superintendent, Joy chose to take Family Leave in 2012. Shifting to a different mission field for four years, she worked in public school as an elementary school teacher, often with children and families in poverty. The challenging, growing experience, gave her deeper insight into the struggles that are faced by so many families in rural west Tennessee.
With the Selmer congregation, Joy fostered creative ministry teams focused on the process of making disciples, and cultivated lay leadership in worship planning and programming that enhances small group development. She also facilitated a Discipleship Network for area United Methodist congregations, worked with the Perkins School of Theology in facilitating a preaching peer group for pastors and provided novel leadership among the inter-denominational Selmer Ministerial Association. Active in conference leadership for decades, she is currently a member of the Episcopacy Committee and provides mentoring support and orientation for beginning pastors through the Board of Ordained Ministry.
An extrovert by nature, Joy is eager and excited to form, build and develop relationships within the Paris First church family as well as the larger community.