Tom Ballard: Back to Morristown

Tom Ballard: Back to Morristown

 

The Rev. Tom Ballard, age 54, is projected for appointment as Morristown District superintendent effective July 1.

Current appointment: Senior pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Wytheville, Va.

Education: B.S. in General Business, University of Tennessee at Knoxville (1979). M.Div., Candler School of Theology (1989)

History:

  • 1979-1986: Employed by Tennessee Department of Transportation, Right-of-Way Division (relocation assistance), in Knoxville office.
  • 1986-1989: Appointed pastor to Sweetwater Circuit, Maryville District
  • 1989-1992: Appointed pastor to Bridgers UMC, Morristown District
  • 1992-1997: Appointed pastor to Strawberry Plains UMC, Morristown District
  • 1997-2002: Appointed pastor to Bookwalter UMC, Knoxville District
  • 2002-2006: Appointed pastor to First Galax UMC, Wytheville District
  • 2006-present: Appointed senior pastor to St. Paul UMC, Wytheville District

Family: "My wife, Jonna, is the daughter of now deceased Rev. John and Betty Williams, a parsonage family in Holston for many years. Our children are William, first-year student at Wytheville Community College, and Emily, 10th grader at George Wythe High School."

Home: St. Paul East UMC, Knoxville District. "I grew up in East Knox County."

How did you find out?

"Bishop Swanson called me on a Tuesday night about 10:45. When the phone rang I thought it was either my sister (we normally talk late) or a pastoral emergency. In reflecting upon the call from the bishop, the voice was a little too deep to be my sister, so perhaps it most resembled a pastoral emergency. I don’t remember much of what I said other than asking twice: 'Are you sure?'"

What are your thoughts, hopes, or goals regarding your next appointment?

"I would like for folks to sense that I am joining them in their unique ministries. With 108 local churches, it is obvious that not only ministry has happened but ministry is happening. Often, it’s not until we look back that we realize that our lives have been impacted by the local church.

"Having said that, I am thoroughly convinced that the district is in place to serve the local church and not the other way around. Paragraph 120 of our Book of Discipline states: 'The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.' Of course, that’s true. That mission statement would be true in any church tradition.

"However, the other part of that same paragraph really brings it home for me: Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs. I am a 'product' of the local church. I didn’t know that I was being shaped at the time, but looking back now, I realize that I was being shaped. God was using the local church, warts and all, to shape even me, warts and all, for ministry.

"God still uses the local church. I hope the churches of the Morristown District, regardless of size or location, will continue shaping individuals into disciples."

Any words of encouragement or foresight about Holston's future?

"I simply want each of us to be faithful to the task of making disciples and allowing ourselves to be made into disciples. I appreciate the collegiality among clergy brothers and sisters in Holston as well as the sense of partnership between clergy and laity.

"During this Lenten Season especially, I am reminded of spiritual disciplines and practices to which we should be attentive in every season. It wasn’t just important in the days of John Wesley but is still important to attend upon all the ordinances of God (or what Bishop Robert Schnase has paraphrased, to 'stay in love with God').

"I hope we will get beyond a 'survivor' type mentality in our local churches, often because we feel we are letting down the memory of people whose voices we continue to hear. I hope we can cast off the guilt feeling that we aren’t meeting the expectations of folks long-ago deceased.

"I hope we always remember that we have and serve a Savior in Jesus Christ who has come to redeem us and guide us through the deep waters into which we entered at our respective baptisms. So, may we continue to re-discover our theological roots in the face of a corporately, politically, informational, and technologically driven world.

"By remembering who and whose we are, I believe God will be faithful to not only transform the world but to also transform the Church so that the Church (through local churches) is excited, equipped and empowered to transform the world -- for Jesus’ sake."