7 ordained elders, 1 deacon during COVID-delayed recognition ceremony

April 17, 2021
By Alan Wild
Seven Kentucky Conference clergy were ordained as elders and one was ordained as deacon Saturday, April 17, during a Service of Commissioning and Ordination at Christ Church United Methodist in Louisville.

In addition, two people were commissioned on the elder track and one on the deacon track, becoming provisional elders and deacon.

Ordained as full elders were: Revs. Chris Basil, Amy Call, Eric Espada, Sam McConkey, Ashley Tackett-Evans, Craig Taylor and Rob Tucker. Ordained as full deacon was Rev. Nancy Preston.

Revs. Michael McLean and Dustin Woods were commissioned as provisional elders, and Rev. Lora Limeberry was commissioned as provisional deacon.

The service had been scheduled to take place during the 2020 Annual Conference but was delayed because of COVID-19 social-distancing protocols. All of those recognized Saturday were formally installed in their new positions, retroactive to July 2020, during December’s Annual Conference session, which was held online.

The Commissioning and Ordination Service for this coming year’s ordinands and conferees will take place Monday, June 7, during the 2021 Annual Conference, which will again be conducted online.

A limited number of family and friends were allowed for each person recognized Saturday, with the service also streamed live on the Conference’s website and Facebook Live page. Between 125 and 150 tuned in on Facebook Live, and about another 50 watched on the website.

Bishop Leonard Fairley presided during the service, along with Rev. Kevin Burney, Director of Ministerial Service and Assistant to the Bishop. Bishop Gary Mueller of the Arkansas Annual Conference presented the sermon, “You Feed Them.” The ecumenical greeting was presented by Rev. Molly Shoulta Tucker, Pastor of Ridgewood Baptist Church in Louisville, who is married to ordinand Rob Tucker.

Mueller’s sermon was based on the passage from Luke 9:10-17, the story of the five loaves and two fishes. Alternating between jokes about college basketball rivalries and deadly earnestness at the current state of the United Methodist Church, Mueller said the ordinands and conferees had heeded God’s call to ministry at a crucial time in the church.

“The reason why you’re doing this is God has called you into the feeding business,” Mueller said, noting that the church has allowed itself to land squarely in the middle of today’s culture wars.

“Let me put it as clearly as I can. People need a savior. I know I do,” Mueller said. The Bishop called it “embarrassing” and “sinful” the way the people of the UMC are treating each other during the current unrest. Nonetheless, he ended on an optimistic note of love and evangelism directed at the ordinands and conferees – as well as the UMC as a whole.

The service, which lasted about 90 minutes, concluded with the laying of hands on those being ordained and confirmed.
The seven ordained as full elders:
  • Chris Basil, Senior Pastor, Somerset First UMC, where he has served since 2017. He has a BA in psychology from Ohio State University and an MDiv from Asbury Seminary. He and his wife, Julia, have a daughter, Miriam.
  • Amy Call, Senior Pastor, St. John UMC in Owensboro, where she has served since 2019. She has a BA in religion and sociology from Transylvania University and an MDiv and an MA in marriage and family therapy from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. She and her husband, Tyler, have a daughter, Eloise.
  • Eric Espada, Senior Pastor, Island UMC, where he has served since 2017. He has a BA in management and an MDiv from Asbury Seminary. He and his wife, Cesia, have two children, Eric and Isaac.
  • Sam McConkey, Pastor of Oakland UMC in Melbourne, where he has served since 2016. He has a BA in ministerial education and an AAS in music ministry from God’s Bible School & College in Cincinnati. He and his wife, Melissa, have two children, Lewis and Miel.
  • Ashley Tackett-Evans, Lead Pastor of New Beginnings UMC in Stanford, where she has served since 2019. She has a BA in religion from Georgetown College and an MDiv from Emory University, Candler School of Theology. She is married to Bobby.
  • Craig Taylor, Lead Pastor, Stovall UMC in Radcliff, where he has served since 2018. He has a BS in television production from Murray State University and an MDiv from Vanderbilt Divinity School. He and his wife, Meagan, have two children, Reilly and Ezra.
  • Rob Tucker, Lead Pastor, Watkins Memorial UMC in Louisville, where he has served since 2020. He has a BA in religious studies from Florida Southern College and an MDiv from Duke Divinity School. He is married to Molly Shoulta.
Ordained as a deacon:
  • Nancy Preston, appointed to Outreach Ministries, Morehead State University, and Greenup First UMC. She has a BS in social work from Morehead State, an MS in social work from the University of Kentucky, a PhD in education policy studies and evaluation from UK, and BGTS from United Theological Seminary. She is married to Jeffrey and has three adult children.
Commissioned on the elder track:
  • Michael McLean, Pastor of Sacramento UMC since 2020. He has a BA in mechanical engineering from Villanova University, an MS in financial management from Naval Postgraduate School, and an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married to Jo Ann and has two adult daughters.
  • Dustin Woods, Associate Pastor of St. Paul UMC in Louisville since 2020. He has a BA in history and religion from Georgetown College, an MDiv from Asbury Seminary, and an MA in education from Georgetown. He and his wife, Emily, have four children, Wesley, Maxwell, Thomas and Jonathan.
Commissioned on the deacon track:
  • Lora Limeberry, CPA in Finance and Accounting, national headquarters for the Presbyterian Church, PCUSA, A Corp, in Louisville. She has a BBS in accounting from Indiana University Kokomo and an MBA from Indiana University Southeast. She is married to John and has an adult daughter.