UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
ABOUT THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE
The Rev. Dr. Edward Davis
The Rev. Dr. Edward Smith Davis came to the Southern Conference from the Illinois Conference UCC, where he served as Interim Associate Conference Minister, caring for 102 churches and 350 ordained clergy. In addition to serving as Senior Pastor of St. Mark United Church of Christ in Chicago, Dr. Davis also served as Chaplain for the Chicago Fire Department Chaplain and as a Chicago Police St. Jude Chaplain.
Dr. Davis holds two Bachelor’ degrees in Business, an MBA in Finance and Economics from Roosevelt University in Chicago, and a Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary. He completed the Executive Education in Leadership program from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and earned a Doctor of Ministry in Collaborative Leadership in the 21st Century from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where he currently serves as an Adjunct Faculty Advisor for the Doctor of Ministry program.
The Rev. Dr. John Myers
Minister for Justice and Minister for Church Affairs, EVA
A native of Wilmington DE, Dr. Myers lives in Suffolk, VA, where he is active with the NAACP and the Virginia Council of Churches, and serves on the Board of Trustees of Franklinton Center. A 21-year veteran of the US Navy, Dr. Myers received his Master of Divinity from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University and his Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary.
Dr. Myers understands his call as one to make disciples of men, women and children by teaching and preaching the word of God. His life’s mission is to empower Christian believers to exercise their spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to be instruments of service to God, going into all the world performing ministries of outreach, reconciliation and healing as God has ordained.
The Rev. Jerry Rhyne
Minister for Church Affairs, WNCA
After retiring from the US Air Force as a Chaplain with the rank of Colonel — having served in locations across the US, Europe and Asia — Rev. Rhyne came to North Carolina in 1992, where he has served as staff chaplain with medical centers and hospices, and has co-pastored with his wife, Marion. Rev. Rhyne serves as Chaplain for the National Disaster Ministry Team and has led mission trips to Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.
The Rev. Eddie Weathers
Minister for Church Affairs, ENCA
A native of Greensboro, The Rev. Eddie Louis Weathers graduated from James B. Dudley High School and attended Shaw University in Raleigh before entering the US Navy, where he served for six years. He served for 12 years as pastor of Melfield UCC in Haw River, and for 21 years at Mt. Zion UCC in Rockingham, while also serving as a Clinical Chaplain in the North Carolina Department of Correction in Hoffman NC until his retirement in 2007. An associate pastor at Union Chapel UCC in Burlington, Rev. Weathers is married to the former Annie Martin, with whom he enjoys one son, four daughters, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The Rev. Curly Stumb
Minister of Communication & Director, John’s River Valley Camp
The Rev. Cheri Lovell, CFRE
Strategic Development Minister
Ms. Belinda Sledge
Ms. Janelle Bunn
Administrative Assistant, SOC
Ms. Jean Burnett
Administrative Assistant, SOC
Ms. Kay Simons
Administrative Assistant, EVA
Administrative Assistant & Registrar, WNCA
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
One of the most diverse Conferences in the United Church of Christ, the Southern Conference formed after the national union of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches in Cleveland OH, on June 25, 1957 — the union that gave birth to the United Church of Christ. Eight years after the United Church of Christ was formed, three church bodies — the Southern Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, the Convention of the South of the Congregational Christian Churches (a denomination of African-American Congregational Christian Churches), and the Southern Convention of the Congregational Christian Churches — formed a covenant on September 30, 1965. Each group reflected both the unique polity of their national bodies and their ethnic forebears — African, British and German. All, however, shared a cultural Southernness and unity in their belief that Jesus’ prayer, “that they may all be one,” was to be taken seriously. The new entity comprised 414 congregations reporting 66,000 members.
This was the era of the Civil Rights Movement, which endeavored to desegregate public facilities, including schools. The leaders of these three uniting denominations provided courageous guidance as they forged a strong, united Conference in the midst of much fear, prejudice, doubt, and division. Some churches opted not to become part of the new effort, but the vast majority accepted the challenge of forming a unique testimony to the unity that Christ brings.
Since 1965, the Southern Conference has enjoyed the leadership of four talented and dedicated Conference Ministers — James Lightbourne, Rollin O. Russell, Steven Camp and Edward Davis —along with skilled Associate Conference Ministers, Program Associates, and office support personnel. In addition, the Conference has been guided by lay and ordained leaders serving as officers and members of various Conference and Association boards, commissions and committees. Many have served faithfully and effectively in General Synod responsibilities, and the Conference has hosted one General Synod meeting in addition to gatherings of the former World Board and the national women’s meeting.
The Southern Conference also boasts two denominationally-affiliated colleges in Elon University and Catawba College, two children’s ministries in Elon Homes for Children and Nazareth Children’s Home, three senior living communities managed under the United Church Retirement Homes umbrella, and four Conference centers and camps: Black Lake Retreat Center, Blowing Rock Conference Center, Franklinton Center at Bricks, and Johns River Valley Camp.
Today, the Southern Conference is a uniquely blessed place to do ministry. Of her nearly 200 member churches, just under 100 are African American. More than 30,000 United Church of Christ members in North Carolina and the Tidewater area of Virginia practice their faith across a range of theological orientations. The Southern Conference gathers annually in June, rotating its meeting among its three Associations: Western North Carolina based in Salisbury, Eastern North Carolina based in the Conference office in Burlington, and Eastern Virginia in Suffolk.