Jon Strother, District Superintendent
I am honored to partner with local church memberships and pastors to serve as district superintendent of The Sound District. This is a call I have answered before; and found to be humbling, life-giving, challenging, and rewarding. I cannot remember a time when God has not been shaping my life through the influence of the Church. My entire life has been nurtured and nourished through the Body of Christ; baptized in infancy and marked for discipleship, a life-long United Methodist. My home church was a small membership church, where I was given many opportunities to explore faith as I served. In the fall of 1974, while participating in a Lay-Witness Mission, I accepted the grace of God through Jesus Christ, and some years later, experienced a call to ordained ministry.
I have been serving in pastoral leadership since 1982. Answering this call has taken me to all shapes, sizes and expressions of church, here in North Carolina and around the world. I served a three-point charge while in seminary, and after graduation, in 1986, I served as associate pastor in a large urban church. I have been graced to serve small town and county seat congregations, as well as helping to plant a new church. I have also served in lead pastor roles in two other strong congregations.
I am married to Cathy Thompson, whose life’s vocation is the practice of law. Cathy is a “PK” whose father served our annual conference and was superintendent of the former, Greenville District, Em Thompson. Her mom, Catherine, was raised in parsonages as well. Her father, D.D. Traynham, was a pastor as well as our first conference statistician. Cathy and I have five wonderful children, one beautiful new grandson, and four grand dogs. We call Greenville “home.” I am the youngest of three children who share a vibrant and active mom. She lives In her own apartment at ninety-two years young, and with my sister and brother, and calls Moore County home. I enjoy music and poetry, reading and photography, and suffer from an incurable desire to see the world. I enjoy movies that stir the soul; mixing, grinding, and brewing my favorite coffee beans, and I will pull up a chair to be captured by a good story anywhere one is offered.
My experience has taught me that God’s fingerprints are everywhere. God is not hiding from humanity, but makes himself known through scripture, prayer, mission, worship, creation, in the mundane experiences of everyday life, and a thousand other ways as well. The Church’s mission is “to make disciples,” loving, lifelong, obedient, followers of Jesus. The mark of discipleship is evident in our capacity to love and serve like Jesus. The church is the community in which we are called and equipped by God to be agents of grace. Jesus lived in community, and so do we. We cannot become his disciples on our own. The call of the Church is to be on mission, together, with Jesus Christ, in the world. In Christ, we are called to announce, to put on display, the rule and reign of God in this world. It is my joy to join all of you in answering this call.
Ashley Kennedy, Beacon/ Sound Administrative Assistant to the DS
Ashley was born and raised in Eastern North Carolina in the small town of Bethel. She grew up in the Bethel United Methodist Church and remains a member of that church along with her husband, Matt, and two daughters, Ava and Elizabeth.
Ashley attended East Carolina University where she earned her undergraduate and Masters Degrees in Education. Upon graduation, she began her career as an educator with Pitt County Schools for the past 15 years.
Ashley is excited about this opportunity working with such a wonderful team and serving others.
Kim Rice Smith, Lay Leader
I am a believer in taking church outside of the building and into the schools and neighborhoods where people need to see the presence of Christ in each of us. My service as the Congregations4Children (C4C) Coordinator for the Sound District over the past several years, has only helped to grow that passion and belief.
Outside of my local church and district roles, I am currently completing my fifth and final term on our local Board of Education. Along with my husband Larry, we are part of a family business that has served our hometown for over 50 years.
In my spare time, I write a LOT and most often about my faith. I am the author of four books and a daily faith-filled blog. It’s my therapy and one of the ways I share my messy servant heart with others as I try to grow in my relationship with Christ.
My strangely weird and eclectic life is an example of the beauty that can happen when we simply follow where Christ leads. I have learned to just buckle up and let Him use me for His glory!
I am excited to begin this new path as District Lay Leader for the Sound District. I pray for your grace as I find my way in His service.
You can reach out to Kim at K.Smith@nccumc.org.