The Rev. Chenda Innis Lee, a lifelong United Methodist and ordained elder in the Virginia Conference, has been selected by the WPA Conference Personnel Committee to serve as the new Coordinator of Clergy and Lay Excellence. Rev. Lee has been serving as the Regional Coordinator of Spiritual Formation in the Pittsburgh/Butler area since December 1, 2021. She will begin her new position on the Conference Program Staff on July 1, 2022.
“Rev. Lee has a quiet confidence and a deep spiritual insight that will bless our clergy and laity in the new ministry she is undertaking,” said Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, Director of Connectional Ministries. “Chenda’s ministry experience includes serving as a Pastor of Discipleship & First Impressions at the Annandale UMC where she provided oversight, coordination and training for the adult education and welcoming ministries. She has been an active participant in peer learning groups and has developed continuing education events for clergy and laity on both the District and local church levels.”
The Coordinator of Clergy and Lay Leadership Excellence provides leadership in developing strategies for cultivating clergy and lay excellence throughout Western Pennsylvania. The coordinator works closely with district superintendents, pastors, boards and committees of ministry, agencies and laity teams to identify gaps and develop programs that strengthen leadership throughout the conference. The coordinator also develops and oversees the Clergy Communities of Practice and works with the Board of Laity and the Board of Ordained Ministry to offer continuing education opportunities for both clergy and laity.
“I am excited to be entering into this new role of supporting, encouraging, and equipping the clergy and laity of the Western PA Annual Conference,” Rev. Lee said. “I am most excited about building new relationships and providing you with the resources and information you need, so that you can be effective in the ministries to which God has called you. My hope is that as we work together, we will be strengthened in our witness and proclamation of the good news of God's love in our congregation, community, city, nation, and the world.”
Born in a rural village in Liberia in West Africa, Rev. Lee comes from a long line of preachers, both men and women. She was baptized as an infant by her uncle, a United Methodist pastor. Her father, retired Bishop John G. Innis, was director of a rural mission school that also served as a rescue center for displaced people fleeing the cities in the early 1990s during a civil war in Liberia. In 1996, four years before being elected bishop and assigned to the Liberia Area, her father was offered a job with the United Methodist Committee on Relief and moved the family to the United States. Rev. Lee was 16 at the time.
Rev. Lee attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., where she met her husband, the Rev. Dr. Asa Lee. Known as a gifted preacher and teacher, she served as an associate and senior pastor of churches in the Northern Virginia region for more than 10 years before coming to Pittsburgh. She was a Lewis Fellow in 2015 and is a graduate of the Virginia Clergy Leadership Program (2018). She moved to Pittsburgh when her husband began serving as President of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in June, 2021.