When the North Carolina East District began looking for a new district superintendent earlier this year, it focused on someone who could unify its approximately 80 churches, bring healing to fractured relationships, and help with leadership training of its pastors.
After a search committee spent several months interviewing candidates, it honed in on a pastor in the Carolinas with a track record of equipping pastors and bringing people together through his coaching and consulting work, and as the director of operations for the South Carolina District.
Reverend Tim Jones was called into ministry at age 26 when the Lord used his entrepreneurial spirit, as a small business owner, and passion for leadership development. Rev. Jones’ entrance into pastoral ministry was unique; as a new ministry student in the Church of the Nazarene, he was approached by a Wesleyan church pastor in Parkersburg, West Virginia about filling the pulpit for one Sunday A few days after preaching that weekend, that pastor suddenly and tragically passed away. The then District Superintendent Ron Drillien asked Rev. Jones to help stand in the gap until they could find a new pastor, and there he stayed for the next six years.
In 1992, Rev. Jones started pastoring Huntington First Wesleyan Church, which was the largest Wesleyan Church in West Virginia at the time. He held nearly every executive role within a district leadership structure including district secretary, District Board of Ministerial Development director, district treasurer and assistant district superintendent, all while pastoring within the local church. While serving under a great mentor of his, the district superintendent at the time, the late Dan Finch, Rev. Jones helped put together a merger between the West Virginia and Virginia Districts, which is now known as the Shenandoah District, a name which Rev. Jones originated.
In 2007, Rev. Jones accepted the call to pastor United Wesleyan Church in Easley, South Carolina. Within a year, he was elected to serve as the South Carolina District’s assistant district superintendent, where his focus was on church revitalization and helping smaller churches thrive.
Rev. Jones received a phone call in the first week of June from Dr. Wayne Schmidt inviting him to explore taking the step into the one remaining district leadership role he had yet to fill: district superintendent of the North Carolina East District. After discussing the opportunity and considering it with his wife Jennifer, who was serving as the South Carolina District administrator and content contributor to World Hope International, Rev. Jones accepted the invitation to interview. While returning home from his interview, the phone call offering him the role came, pending a successful vote at the upcoming district conference. The vote on July 22, 2023, was overwhelmingly positive, and Rev. Jones was installed as the new district superintendent that day.
The hardest part of the transition for Rev. Jones and Jennifer is leaving the people that have become family at United Wesleyan Church. While at United, three churches were planted, and it is investing, along with the South Carolina District and two other churches, in a new Hispanic church network. The Joneses were touched by the generosity of United’s lay leaders for paving the way for their transition to North Carolina. While knowing that their pastor was being brought before a different district for a vote, and may likely resign as pastor, they still sent Rev. Jones on his planned sabbatical, which gave him the flexibility to schedule meet-and-greets in early July at three North Carolina churches. Looking back at his tenure there, Rev. Jones said, “United is one of the most giving and supportive churches that anyone could pastor.”
While Rev. Jones said his farewells to United and the South Carolina District in the first week of September, he looks with enthusiasm to a new challenge: “I am so impressed with the leadership skills that many of these pastors have [in North Carolina East]. It stands out to me. They get it. I’m coming in to come alongside to help the district be even healthier.”
Reverend Jonathan Lewis provided a strong foundation upon which the next district superintendent could build. During Rev. Jonathan Lewis’ seven years as district superintendent of the North Carolina East District, he helped support seven new church plants. He coached many churches into realizing and practicing a deep desire to reach their communities as a Kingdom Force. He was able to mentor and support pastors beginning their career as lead pastors, as well as walk with pastors and church leaders during transitions. He also provided support in times of natural disasters that hit the state.
“Jonathan has been nothing but totally supportive through this leadership transition,” shared Rev. Jones. He could already tell through their interaction that “Jonathan is a very compassionate person who wants to see the district grow even after he’s gone.”
Rev. Lewis says of his successor, “Pastor Tim Jones is God’s man for this time and will lead well in this new day of ministry for the NC East District.” Rev. Lewis will now be serving at Christ Community Church in Pinehurst, North Carolina, as the executive director of operations.
Rev. Jones looks forward to working with pastors one on one: “They are my heroes … pastors are my heroes. But there is something special about the men and women who are also bi-vocational. They face the same problems as full-time pastors, but also have other work or careers to support their families.”
Rev. Jones is excited to offer his extensive leadership and coaching background to help the district become a healthy multiplying district, both in churches and disciples.
Jacob Gibson is the senior pastor at LifeSpring Wesleyan Church, Richmond, Indiana, and graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and Wesley Seminary, Marion, Indiana.