Meet the Pastor
A native of West Tennessee, Joy is a graduate of McNairy Central High School (1977) and Lambuth College (B.A., 1981). She married in Dan in 1982; Together, as a clergy couple, they graduated Duke University (M.Div., 1985) and were both ordained Elders in the United Methodist Church in 1987. They are proud parents of three grown children: Isaac, (Katie) in Denver; Shelby, (J Whitaker) in Jackson and Will, (Chapel) in Chattanooga. Dan and Joy find their hearts’ delight in being “Dandad” and “Mombee” to Henry James and Audrey Ruth Whitaker.
Among some of the first women ordained as Elders in the Memphis Conference (1987), Joy has rich and varied experience as a 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 Conference adoption agency) and as Superintendent of the former Jackson District. After serving six years as Superintendent on the Bishop’s cabinet, 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. That challenging and growing experience gave her deeper insight into the struggles that are faced by so many families in rural West Tennessee.
As a United Methodist pastor in our rapidly changing world, one might say that Joy is being spiritually “rightly seasoned” through her work. Her love of Christ is being refined into a widening, unfolding embrace as she fulfills the duties of her appointment to congregational ministry. But, she also attempts–with the prayerful help of others–to address emerging and escalating missional needs of our community. Many who have need come to Paris First. With supportive staff, church leaders, committees, classes and groups, Joy prays to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. To build bridges instead of barriers, Joy cooperatively joins other church and civic leaders to foster health in Henry County. She gives her time, energy and resources generously and chooses to love as unconditionally as she is able. Joy understands how vitally important it is to get people involved and engaged–in worship, in circles of conversation with friends, in studies and activities that stretch and inspire. Dedicated to her work, Joy’s heart communicates her care.