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Lineup of preachers announced for Lake Junaluska Summer Worship Series

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. – The Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska – which features spirited traditional worship services led by internationally known preachers – will take place Sunday mornings from June 10 to Aug. 5.

Most services begin Sundays in Stuart Auditorium at 11 a.m., with a prelude by the Lake Junaluska Singers at 10:45 a.m. This year, two special services will be held in the evenings at Memorial Chapel and the amphitheater by the Lake Junaluska Cross.

The theme for this year’s Summer Worship Series is “Stories on the Lakeshore.”

“In the Gospels, the lakeshore is a place of transformation,” said the Rev. Mitzi Johnson, director of programming at Lake Junaluska. “It’s on the mountainous shores of the Galilee that followers of Jesus are called, taught, healed and sent out to serve.

“Lake Junaluska provides an ideal setting for hearing the challenging stories of Jesus with fresh ears.”

Nine guest speakers will come to Lake Junaluska to preach this summer, including the Rev. Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, who served as the former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, who recently became the first woman to serve as senior pastor at the historic Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.

The 2018 Summer Worship Series begins with a special kick-off service held in Memorial Chapel at 7 p.m. June 10. The service is led by Dean of Memorial Chapel Susan Slye Giles, a retired elder of the

Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

On July 15, an outdoor service will take place at the Lake Junaluska Cross amphitheater led by Bishop Lawrence McCleskey. McCleskey plans to preach the story of Jesus walking on water, a story of doubt and faith, perfect for an evening lakeside setting.

During the closing worship for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church on June 24, Bishop Paul L. Leeland will speak in Stuart Auditorium. Dr. Tracy Radosevic, dean of the Academy for Biblical Storytellers, will elaborate on a story in which Jesus breaks every social convention to heal a woman on the margins of society on July 1. Radosevic is particularly fond of mining biblical narratives for their humor and their often-overlooked feminine inspirations.

“The Gospel stories that form the heart of this summer’s worship series highlight some of the grandest themes of Jesus’ teachings,” Johnson said. “For each of these themes, we’ve chosen preachers who interpret the ideas boldly with words and in their lived ministry. Their daily lives lend authenticity and power to their messages so that the lakeshore continues to be a place of transformation just as it was in Galilee all those years ago.”

The summer worship series also includes Taizé services of prayer and song at 8 p.m. Monday evenings in Memorial Chapel, from June 18 to Aug. 6 (excluding July 2). The service, modeled after the Taizé Community in France, has a casual atmosphere encouraging participants to slow down in the midst of their fast-paced lives. Simple meditative songs, scripture, candlelight and silence are characteristic of this service.

Summer Worship Series schedule

All services at 11 a.m. unless otherwise noted, with a prelude by the Lake Junaluska Singers beginning at 10:45 a.m.:

  • June 10 – Rev. Susan Slye Giles, kick-off event at Memorial Chapel (7 p.m.)
  • June 17 – Rev. Dr. Clarence G. Newsome
  • June 24 – Bishop Paul L. Leeland (10 a.m.)
  • July 1 – Rev. Tracy Radosevic
  • July 8 – Rev. Carol Howard Merritt
  • July 15 – Bishop Lawrence McCleskey, at the amphitheater under the Lake Junaluska Cross (7 p.m.)
  • July 22 – Rev. Dr. Carl Frazier
  • July 29 – Rev. Juan Huertas
  • Aug. 5 – Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli

About the preachers

Rev. Susan Slye Giles

Dean of Memorial Chapel Rev. Susan Slye Giles is a retired elder in the Western North Carolina Conference. She is a graduate of Hood Theological Seminary and a Lake Junaluska resident. She is married to Rev. Sandy Giles, and they have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Rev. Dr. Clarence G. Newsome

Rev. Dr. Clarence G. Newsome is the former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the past president of Shaw University and previously served as dean of the School of Divinity at Howard University. He was a member of the Duke Divinity School faculty for eight years. Dr. Newsome is a triple Duke alumnus, receiving a bachelor of arts in religion in 1972, a master of divinity in 1975, and a doctorate in religion in 1982. He is married to Lynne Platt Newsome, and they have two adult daughters.

Bishop Paul L. Leeland

Bishop Paul L. Leeland is resident bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. Previously, he served as bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference for eight years. He also served in the North Carolina Conference for 33 years, including as the superintendent of the Goldsboro District, assistant to the bishop and director of ministerial relations. In 2007, he was the recipient of the Red Shoe Award, presented by clergywomen of the North Carolina Conference for “encouragement and support of women in ministry through advocacy, appointment, mentoring and friendship.”

Dr. Tracy Radosevic

Dr. Tracy Radosevic, dean of the Academy for Biblical Storytellers from Maryland, has taught, preached and performed all over the world since 1991. She serves as an adjunct professor at East Tennessee State University and as artist-in-residence at Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Radosevic enjoys telling any and all stories that make her audiences look at usual occurrences in unusual ways and is particularly fond of mining biblical narratives for their humor and their often-overlooked feminine inspirations. She has a doctorate of ministry in spirituality for transforming community from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., a master’s degree in storytelling from East Tennessee State University, and another in religious education from Duke Divinity.

Rev. Carol Howard Merritt

Rev. Carol Howard Merritt is the award-winning author of “Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation,” “Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation,” and “Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God after Experiencing a Hurtful Church.” A Presbyterian Church (USA) minister for two decades, Howard Merritt studied at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas and is known for serving churches with a deep commitment to the poor and disenfranchised. She is a regular writer at the Christian Century magazine and a founder and host of UNCO, an open-space “unconference” that attracts church leaders across denominations and generations. Howard Merritt lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her pastor-activist husband, Brian Merritt, and their daughter, Calla.

Bishop Lawrence McCleskey

Bishop Lawrence McCleskey is a graduate of Duke University, Duke Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary. He currently serves as chair of the Division of Higher Education of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. McCleskey was elected to the episcopacy in July 1996, and prior to his election, he served 33 years as a member of the Western North Carolina Conference, where he was appointed to churches with memberships from 35 to 3,700 members. He is married to Margaret Fowler McCleskey and they have three children.

Rev. Dr. Carl Frazier

Rev. Dr. Carl Frazier is a native North Carolinian and (at least) a seventh-generation Methodist. A graduate of Duke Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary, he has served churches in the North Carolina Conference since 1980. His service to the General Church includes three delegations to the General Conference, four to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference and membership on the Board of Directors of The United Methodist Publishing House (as chair from 2012-2016). He has authored the “Table Talk” study for Cokesbury, was book review editor for the North Carolina Christian Advocate newspaper, and has published several articles. He has served on a number of conference boards and agencies. He is husband to Mary-Ellen, father to daughters Elizabeth (and her husband Jason O’Quinn) and Ellen, and Pop to JP.

Rev. Juan Huertas

Rev. Juan Huertas is lead pastor of Grace Community United Methodist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, and a graduate of Candler School of Theology. A native of Puerto Rico and a spiritual director, Huertas loves writing about discipleship as empowerment to transform our neighborhoods, cities and world, and is a frequent contributor to Day1.org and MinistryMatters.com. He is married to Shannon Perry Huertas and is a father of three.

Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli

In 2014, Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli became the first woman to serve as senior pastor of the historic Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Her ministry has encouraged spiritual growth and engaged discipleship – emphasizing radical hospitality, shared ministry, spiritual practices and solidarity with the poor and oppressed. Gaines-Cirelli contributed to and served on the editorial board for “The Common English Bible (CEB) Women’s Bible.” A life-long United Methodist, Gaines-Cirelli regularly presents as a featured theologian, teacher and speaker at local, district, conference, jurisdictional and international connectional events.


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