A faithful journey
When Jessica Terrell says she’s on a mission from God, believe her.
Jessica, Class of 2003, felt the call to ministry as an undergraduate at LaGrange College, where she found her life’s purpose.
“I was constantly in the Banks Library. At LaGrange I learned how to explore and investigate research, select resources and present my findings,” she said, “which really helped to prepare me for graduate school.”
After graduating cum laude with a religion degree in 2003, she wasted no time in pursuing her dream to serve.
She received a full scholarship to attend Duke University Divinity School where she earned the Master of Divinity degree in 2006.
In graduate school, her accomplishments were impressive. She traveled to Africa to study the church’s history with respect to the government’s oppression of the people there.
“My objective,” she said, “was to learn what had happened centuries ago that would lead to the genocide of millions of people.”
Jessica was one of the first Duke students to receive certification for a concentration in Gender, Theology and Ministry. For her senior project, she co-authored a resource manual about gender and the ministry called “Continuous Blessings.”
“Once I finished my master’s in 2006, I came back to the North Georgia Conference to serve my first appointment as associate minister at Covington First United Methodist Church.”
“I had lots of butterflies, but I remembered that God was in my decision, and this is what I have been called to do,” she admits.
“I took all of Dr. David Ahearn’s religion classes, and we continue to talk on a regular basis,” she said.
“Professor Alvin Lingenfelter encouraged me to get involved with a group that meets regularly at the College for women in religion majors,” she shared. “Those of us who are now alums get to go back to interact with new classes of female students studying for the ministry—it’s a wonderful partnership.”
“LaGrange Chaplain, Quincy Brown, was such a big part of my call to ministry,” she said. Last summer, Dr. Brown, who mentored her through the candidacy process for ordination, proudly sponsored her during a ceremony where Jessica became officially ordained.
“Every year that I’m in ministry, the people at LaGrange College continue to support me,” she shared, “guiding me in my call as I learn to serve that out in the church.”
Two years ago, Jessica was called by the Cabinet and the Bishop of the North Georgia Conference to serve at Emory University. Now she is the senior associate pastor at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church and one of the school’s campus ministers.
What’s the best part of her job?
“The most wonderful thing about my job is that I get to pastor students and members of the church,” she said. “In my pastoral role, I talk with them, counsel them, and I also get to serve them communion.
“Being in ministry is such a rewarding profession. I get to be there for the great celebrations of their lives, and I get to go with them into the different spaces that they enter throughout their life cycles, to support them in their journey.
“I get to see children grow up and go off to college and watch them as they go into vocation, whether that’s in the church or outside the ministry. That’s probably the most rewarding part, being with people at all stages of their lives.
Grant began work at the White House in December 2007 and continued there through the remainder of the Bush administration.
Now he is back home in Dalton, contemplating his next career move. Whatever it may be, he is grateful for his time spent on the Hill.
“Attending LaGrange College was the best decision I ever made,” he says. “Because this is a small campus, I got to know all my professors on a personal level. Although I graduated two years ago, I can still come back and see my professors and they are still interested in what and how I’m doing.
“I was given opportunities here I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else.”