2021 Annual Conference: 6 celebrated at Commissioning & Ordination Service

June 07, 2021
By Alan Wild
Four clergy were ordained as elders, one was commissioned as a provisional elder, and one was recognized as an associate member Monday, June 7, during a Service of Commission and Ordination as part of the 2021 Annual Conference.

Like a similar service held in April for 2020 ordinands, Monday’s service took place at Christ Church United Methodist in Louisville. Because of continuing concerns over COVID-19, a limited number of family and friends were allowed to attend in person, although the service was livestreamed on the Kentucky Annual Conference’s Facebook Live page. At one point, more than 200 people were watching there.

Ordained as elders were: Revs. Chad Brandt, Todd Smith, Rodney Stewart-Wilcox, and Caleb Wheat. Commissioned as a provisional elder was Rev. Sunday Daleng, and recognized as an associate member was Rev. John Carwell.

The ecumenical greeting was offered by Rev. Dr. George Love, of Hebron Presbyterian Church in Louisville. He is the husband of Rev. Julie Hager Love, President and CEO of the Kentucky United Methodist Homes for Children & Youth.

Bishop Leonard Fairley presided during the service, assisted by other Conference leaders, including Rev. Kevin Burney, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Ministerial Services, and Conference Co-Lay Leader Jonna Carter.

The sermon, presented by Bishop Mary “Dindy” Taylor of the Holston Conference, was titled “Witness to These Things.”

During her message, Taylor stressed that “we need to have empathy for our brothers and sisters as we serve Jesus.” She cited heartbreaking scenes from this past winter’s extreme cold and snow in Texas, and also recent gun violence that has taken five lives at a high school in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Changing hearts and lives must be a focus for all nations, she stressed. “My witness to you today is simply this: What a wonderful change has come into my heart since I let Jesus come into my life.”

Fairley spoke fondly of his fellow bishop in introducing her, and at the end of the service, he also spoke extemporaneously when he invited anyone present who might “feel the nudge” toward ministry to talk with him and Taylor after the service. He also hinted that at least one person present had already expressed such an interest.

“We may be bishops, but we are still evangelists,” Fairley said, drawing a laugh from the congregation.

Here are short biographies of those recognized:
  • Rev. Chad Brandt, the Immanuel-Boone Campus Pastor since 2018. He also serves as Pastor of Missions for Immanuel. He has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Spring Arbor University in Michigan and an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Rachalle Ann, have four children.
  • Rev. Todd Smith, Pastor of Breckenridge Street UMC in Owensboro since January 2021. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and criminal justice from Lindsey Wilson College and an MDiv from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is married to Melissa.
  • Rev. Rodney Stewart-Wilcox, Pastor of Mount Tabor UMC in Crestwood since 2017. He has a bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Georgia, and an MDiv from Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He and his wife, Ronda Stewart, have two children.
  • Rev. Caleb Wheat, Pastor at St. James UMC in Bowling Green since 2019. He has a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries from Asbury University and an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Gwendolyn, have two children.
  • Rev. Sunday Daleng, Pastor of Wesley UMC in Lexington since 2018. He has an Accountancy Degree from Federal Polytechnic in Bauchi, Nigeria; an MDiv from Theological College of Northern, Bukury, Plateau State, Niveria; and a DMin from Asbury Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Salome, have four children.
  • Rev. John Carwell, Pastor of Centenary UMC in Ashland since 2020. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies and Telecommunications from Johnson Bible College in Knoxville, Tennessee. He and his wife, Stacia, have three children.