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. Next on their bucket list is a visit to France in 2019.
Jeanette grew up in a Lutheran Church and she and her husband, Steve, have been long time members of Saint Francis UMC in Cary, NC. The Walk to Emmaus, Disciple Bible Study, and Stephen Ministry have all played key roles in her spiritual formation but found a home at her first 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation that she attended in 2003. She then went on to participate in the 2-year Academy for Spiritual Formation and eventually joined the team for the NC Five Day.
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 and her husband, David, have three young adult children and have been members at St. Francis UMC in Cary for over 24 years where she serves on the Church & Society Team. Claire has served as the Assistant to the District Superintendent in the Capital District of the NC Conference of United Methodist Church for 7 years and serves on the Spiritual Formation Team for the Capital District, the Board of Directors for NC UM Camp & Retreat Ministries, and is on the Advisory Board for La Estrella Resplandeciente. She recently completed a 2 year formation program in the art and ministry of spiritual direction and has been accepted to begin a 2 year Academy (#41) in Sumatonga, AL this fall.
Leigh Ballance attend his first Five-Day Academy in 2002 and in 2003 attended the Two-Year Academy (Academy XX). He has served on the leadership team since 2010. He has been a coordinator of Lay Witness Missions for over 20 years. He is an active member of Millbrook UMC serving as a Sunday School teacher, has served on the Spiritual Formation Committee and as Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Patsy Ballance attended her first Five-Day Academy in 2007 and has been hooked ever since! She and her husband Leigh have served on the leadership team since 2010, assisting with hospitality. They have been members of Millbrook UMC in Raleigh for 21 years where she enjoys activities related to congregational care and community outreach. She loves spending time with her adult children and her twin grandsons.
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 27 years of marriage in 2018.
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.