Deacon’s Call: Lisa McGehee

In 2015 I was collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post, you will hear from Lisa McGehee who is an ordained deacon currently serving as the Associate Minister at Good Shepherd United Methodist in Richmond, Virginia. Here are Lisa’s words: 

The seed for my call was planted before I was born. My maternal grandmother was passionate about serving and caring for others – humans, animals, and creation. It was through her life and the way that my mother was raised that I became an advocate for those without a voice. Granny left a legacy filled with stories of providing for care for children. She opened the family home to her children’s friends giving them a warm meal, clothes to wear and a place to stay.

She cared equally for animals and there are many stories of my grandfather and my mother and her siblings coming into the kitchen to find “the box” that sat beside the wood burning stove. “The box” provided protection for an animal that was born the littlest or one that was injured. She raised it with care until it was ready to leave. Her love for creation was equal to the love she had for people and animals. She was a farmer and a gardener who never seemed to have a challenge for growing plants. I believe it was the care in which she planted the seed and tended the soil. She gave thanks and praise to God for all that she had and deeply desired to share it with others.

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Deacon’s Call: Joanna Dietz

In 2015 I was collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  This post you will hear from Joanna Dietz who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  Minister of Mission and Service at Braddock Street United Methodist in Winchester, Virginia. Here are Joanna’s words: 

As a third generation clergy person, I’ve never known life outside the United Methodist Church. But I never thought I’d be called to serve as an ordained minister! I began teaching elementary music right out of college, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. However, it seemed that something was missing.

One Sunday, a new program was announced that was designed to help elementary children grow in both personal and social holiness. Every time it was mentioned, I began to feel deeply emotional.

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Deacon’s Call: Lyn Harding

In 2015 I was collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post, you will hear from Lyn Harding who is an ordained deacon currently serving as a hospice chaplain in Richmond, Virginia. Here are Lyn’s words: 

I was baptized as an infant in July of 1962. While I don’t remember my baptism, it was the beginning of my life in Christ and in the church. My parents were regular church-goers when we lived in Northern Virginia, and we participated fully in the life of the church; serving on and leading various committees, singing in the choir, ushering and counting the offering. I was active in the junior high group, Sunday School, and youth choir until we moved to Williamsburg, Virginia in 1976 when I was thirteen years old.

My parents chose to attend the downtown Presbyterian Church which I found boring and uninspiring. I preferred the non-denominational church across town. It was there that I discovered music was not only something I enjoyed listening to, it was the “window to my soul.” I found that when I was singing or listening to music, I felt close to God. Through music, my heart and mind opened to God’s presence.

When I was sixteen, my family became involved with a new church start later known as Wellspring UMC. Jay and Harriett Hanke were formative people in my life. Our family worshipped there together and we became charter members. It was a wonderful place for me to uncover my gifts and to discover the joy of using them to serve God and the church. I was allowed, at sixteen years old to direct the children’s choir! In addition, I served as a youth leader, choir member, and frequent soloist.

My first year of college was spent at Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music in Winchester where I attended chapel services each week as well as services off-campus where I was a paid choir member. Deidre Kriewald was Chaplin at the time and was the first exposure I had to female clergy. I remember feeling a sense of pride that she was in a role traditionally held by men. It wasn’t until years later that I realized she was my first female clergy role model and thinking, “maybe I could do that too.”

courtesy of Project Burning Bush


I had some involvement with churches from 1982-85 while attending James Madison University, but no real commitment to them. After college, I attended various churches in Richmond but was not really active until I came to Reveille UMC in 1996. During a time of self-examination after my father’s death in 1997, I participated in a lot of volunteer work at RUMC with the youth, Caritas, choir and Disciple Bible Study. These experiences helped me realize the full potential of my gifts and skills and a realization that I was happiest using them in service to God and to the church. I know God has worked in my life to bring me to this point. All my experiences and influences were preparing me to come full circle from my baptism to a full-time vocation in the church.

In 2001 I married Roy a wonderfully supportive man and gained a step-son, RJ and a step-daughter, Lisa. I quit my job with a pharmaceutical company and went to seminary full-time. I also worked part-time as the Director of Youth Activities and Contemporary Worship Leader at RUMC. In June of 2003, I completed a Masters of Christian Education at Union PSCE. In 2004, Roy and I welcomed Noah to our family and I went to work at Shady Grove UMC in the Ashland District where I served as Minister of Outreach until 2009.

I completed ½ a unit of CPE and found that experience to be very informative and helpful around issues of pastoral care. I currently serve as Clinic Manager & Chaplain at CrossOver Healthcare Ministry and have a secondary appointment at New Song UMC in the Richmond District.

What It Means to be a Deacon

Rev. April Casperson spoke at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio in October 2013 about the ministry and role of the deacon. She has done a great job of explaining some of the differences between elders and deacons.

From her talk:

In the United Methodist Church, some people are called to ordination – a set-apart life of ministry and service. There are two orders within ordained clergy – elders and deacons.

Elders are ordained to Word, Order (the ordering of the Church), Sacrament and Service. Elders are primarily pastors; while elders can and do serve in extension ministries outside of the local church, an elder’s identity is rooted in the pastoral role, and being a pastor.

Deacons are ordained to Word, Service, Compassion and Justice. Deacons are not pastors – we are ministers. We can certainly be pastoral! But our identity is based in being a minister rather than being a pastor.

Deacons are called to specialized ministry. We have a specific area and skill in which we connect the people of God, the church and the world with compassion and justice. This is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time.

Read the complete article here.