Profiles: Called to Serve in Extension Ministry

The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church says, “Elders and Deacons in full connection, associate members, probationary members and persons licensed for pastoral ministry may be appointed to ministry settings that extend the ministry of The United Methodist Church and the witness and service of Christ’s love and justice in the world.  They shall be given the same moral and spiritual support by the annual conference as are persons in appointments to pastoral charges.”

Thus, begins the unique appointment called extension ministry.  Because the United Methodist Church is a connectional church, we, as a whole, ordain and license persons for ministry usually for service in the local church within the bounds of the annual conference.  However, God is always searching for places in our world where ordained and licensed persons can share the good news of Jesus Christ outside of the local church. 

When God calls an ordained or licensed United Methodist to serve outside of the local church as a chaplain or teacher or missionary or counselor or administrator or nurse or a million other job descriptions the bishop can appoint them to that particular extension ministry.  While that person becomes officially employed by a different organization than the local church, they are still connected to us, the West Virginia Annual Conference.  As a matter of fact, their ministry represents us, the West Virginia Annual Conference to the persons they minister with in their extension ministry.  Every day we are a part of extension ministries sharing Christ’s love outside of our local church’s walls, beyond our district and conference boundaries.  Our connection is a powerful thing!

But we have a responsibility in these ministries.  The Discipline clearly states, “They (extension ministers) shall be given the same moral and spiritual support by it (the annual conference) as are persons in appointments to pastoral charges.”  We are charged to care for and certainly pray for our ministers who are serving outside our local churches. 

So, who are these extension ministers?  What do they do? Where do they serve?  How can we pray for them if we do not know who they are?  Great questions!  Over the next several months we will endeavor to introduce you to our clergy who are serving as extension ministers.  This will help those of us in the pews to focus our prayers for our extension ministers and it will help our extension ministers feel more connected with our moral and spiritual support. 

Finally, meeting and hearing the stories of our extension ministers may very well help you discern God’s call on your life.  Are you ready?

Rev. Dr. Barry Steiner Ball

Ch. Lt. Col. Ernest (Jay) West is an Ordained Elder who is appointed to an extension ministry as a Chaplain in the United States Army. Jay grew up in Poca, WV, attending first Poca UMC and later Mt. Tabor UMC in Pinch, WV.

Active in the church while growing up, what Jay truly remembers are his summers at Spring Heights. The experience of being “in church” while outdoors was the perfect fit for a young man whose mother encouraged him often to “get out of my house!”  (Read more)


Chaplain Eric Weaver is an Ordained Elder appointed to extension ministry as a chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, specifically serving at Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in Schuylkill, PA.  Born and raised in Short Gap, WV, Eric attended Wesley Chapel UMC “kicking and screaming” as a young child, but ended up serving as Sunday School Superintendent as an adult.  In between those years, there was some time spent struggling looking for a purpose in life. (Read More)


Rev. Shea James is an ordained elder serving as the West Virginia Annual Conference’s Director for Young Disciples and Outdoor Ministries.  Shea grew up in Ohio, just outside of Parkersburg in the tiny town of Stockport.  Shea’s Great-Grandfather helped build Stockport UMC, which is part of a two-point charge.  Shea did not attend church regularly until a friend in middle school invited her to a Bible study for youth at a different UMC that only had two or three active youth. To make the Bible Study more fun, the two or three participants started inviting their friends to the study. 

What Shea remembers of these Bible Studies is not the lessons themselves but the relationships built during them.  Adults took the time to get to know Shea and support her in all that she did.  These adults showed up to support anything the youth were involved in doing.  This Bible Study dramatically changed Shea’s view of the church.  (Read More)


Rev. Jeff Taylor is an Ordained Deacon serving in extension ministry as the President of the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia (UMFWV).  Jeff grew up in the Charleston and Logan areas of West Virginia and attended WVU for his undergraduate degree in Business Administration and WVU Law School for his law degree.  While working full time as an attorney, Jeff attended Johnson Memorial UMC and served on different committees of the church.  Jeff had always attended church, but his focus and vision had always been just with his local church. (Read More)


Rev. Dr. Mike Linger is an elder who serves in extension ministry as the Executive Director for the House of the Carpenter on Wheeling Island.  Mike grew up in West Virginia, first living in Ripley and then moving to the Charleston area after his parents divorced.  After graduating from high school, Mike began to experience a call to ministry. He enrolled at WVWC and eventually graduated from WV State College, the only HBCU (historically black college or university) in WV.  He then went on to United Theological in Dayton, serving a congregation in West Ohio while in seminary.

United and the folks in the West Ohio Annual Conference gave Mike a great foundation for local church ministry.  Upon graduation, Mike found his way to Route 50 and headed east till he stopped at his first appointment in Salem, WV.  (Read More)


Rev. Mary Brumley, an ordained elder and member of the West Virginia Annual Conference, serves as an extension minster as a chaplain for Grant Medical Center in Columbus Ohio.  Chaplain Brumley grew up in the Charleston area  and felt a call into ministry during high school, but really did not understand it.  At that time in Ch. Brumley’s mind, an ordained minister preached and taught.  She was not aware of the pastoral care side of ministry.

While attending Marshall with the plan of being a teacher, Ch. Brumley experienced the pastoral care side of ministry through her participation with  their United Methodist Student group, which was led by Rev. Jim McCune and later by Rev. Suzanne Ellis. (Read More)


Rev. Jeffrey Allen is an ordained elder and is assigned as an extension minister as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Council of Churches (WVCC).  Rev. Allen grew up in Glen Dale, WV, and attended Glen Dale UMC.  His extended family was a wild mixture of ecumenical traditions.  A few Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, a Baptist, and some United Methodists, his family was a miniature council of churches!

Rev. Allen counts a youth group mission trip with Appalachian Service Project to Kentucky as the beginning of his call into missions. (Read More)


Rev. Michael Potesta serves in extension ministry as an active-duty military chaplain in the United States Navy, currently assigned to the United States Marines.  He is, in short, a pastor to hundreds of young men and women who serve to protect our county. 

To become a sailor or marine, the process is fairly simple to understand.  A young person goes to a recruiter’s office, begins filling out paperwork, and finally the day comes to be sworn in as a member of the U. S. Military. Then off to boot camp one goes.  For Chaplain Potesta, becoming a Navy Chaplain was anything but simple. (Read More)


Rev. Michael Taylor (Mike) is an ordained elder and is the Chaplain for the Northern Correctional Facility in Moundsville, WV, making him a state of West Virginia employee working in a prison.

Chaplain Taylor grew up in Ohio, went to college in Kentucky, married a West Virginia girl, went to seminary in Ohio, and was ordained an elder in the West Virginia Annual Conference.  As a pastor, Rev. Taylor served churches in Ohio and West Virginia for 25 years until health concerns led him to retire.  While serving churches, Rev. Taylor got involved with Kairos Prison Ministry.   (Read More)