Rev. Jon Strother
Jon joined our leadership team in 2017 to serve as our Spiritual Director. He is an Ordained Elder in the North Carolina Conference of the UMC where he has served churches and charges of various shapes and sizes, from a three-point charge while in seminary, to associate pastor in an urban setting, to a season of helping plant a church. Prior to his current appointment as Lead Pastor of Jarvis Memorial UMC in Greenville, NC, he served for six years as a district superintendent. Jon has attended our 5-Day Academy on multiple occasions and enjoys serving in this role. He and his wife Cathy have five children, two grand dogs, and a raised-bed garden to keep them more than busy. Cathy and Jon love to travel, having been to Israel three times since 2014 and recently visited France.
Rev. Hal Melton
Hal Melton’s experience with the Academy began with a 5 Day in 2008 hosted by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It left him thirsting for more. He enrolled in a 2 Year Academy that was held at Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA. It truly redefined intimacy in relationship to the living God. After serving as Team Leader on another 5 Day for CBF, he has attended the NC 5 Day for several years now.
Retired after 43 years of ministry with NC Baptist Churches and the Baptist State Convention, he and his wife live in Raleigh and attend Trinity Baptist Church where he concluded his career, serving 19 years as Associate Pastor of Missions, Senior Adults and Marriage Ministry.
He is looking forward to more family time with children and grands as well as his hobbies: boating, fishing, gardening and leading Marriage Enrichment Retreats.
Rev. Jim Jones
Jim Jones is a true North Carolinian, born on base at Camp Lejeune he grew up in Jacksonville, Gastonia, and Greenville, NC. Jim graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Zoology. Jim was a regional sales representative where he covered the southeastern United States for seven years selling products used in scientific research. He founded and ran a successful rental equipment business in Siler City, NC for thirteen years.
Jim is an ordained elder in the North Carolina conference of the United Methodist Church. He began his full-time ministry by serving Lea’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Roxboro, NC as a student pastor for four years while completing his Masters in Divinity degree at Duke University. While at Duke, Jim was recognized for his commitment to the rural church by being named a Rural Fellow by the Duke Endowment.
Jim is currently serving as the senior pastor at Mount Pleasant UMC in Pittsboro, NC where he is in his ninth year of service to this community of faith. A member of the Lumbee Tribe, Jim is interested in how ancient Native American practices intersect with and help us to understand how God desires us to live in community.
Claire is a layperson who has served on the leadership team for the 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation since 2007 after attending for two years. She is currently the NC Academy Retreat Leader. Claire is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a Spiritual Director/Companion, a Certified Lay Speaker, a New Consecration Sunday Guest Leader and a Conflict Transformation Minister. Prior to becoming a freelancer, she served as the Assistant to the District Superintendent in the Capital District of the NC Conference of United Methodist Church for 8 years. She will graduate in April of 2020 from the Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation. Claire serves on the Leadership Team for the NC Institute for Spiritual Direction and Formation. She and her husband, David, have three young adult children and have been members at St. Francis UMC in Cary for over 26 years where she serves on the Church & Society Team. Learn more at clairecoxwoodlief.com.
Debora is the music director for the NC Five Day Academy. She is an Executive Coach with Deere and Co. and works on contract with the Upper Room Emmaus Ministries. She has served as a worship leader, accompanist, and vocalist in Methodist and Wesleyan churches. She and husband Ray will celebrate 28 years of marriage in 2019. Debora is currently participating in the 2 year Academy (#41) in Sumatonga, AL.
Ani is the registrar at the Conference office for the 5 Day Academy and other retreats sponsored by the NC Academy for Spiritual Formation. She was born in Syria and lived in Lebanon for 10 years, before coming to the US in 1978 at the age of 12 and became a US citizen in 1983. She moved from Washington DC area to Raleigh in 1998. Ani has worked as an Administrative Assistant for different organizations for the past 30+ years, including AARP, Juvenile Justice Department and Woman’s Missionary Union of NC. She started working at the NC Conference office in December of 2017. She and her husband, Chuck, live in Willow Spring and have 2 grown children.