The Rev. Chenda Innis Lee, a lifelong United Methodist and ordained elder in the Virginia Conference, has been selected as the new Regional Coordinator of Spiritual Formation for the Butler/Pittsburgh region. She moved to Pittsburgh when her husband, the Rev. Dr. Asa Lee, began serving as President of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in June, 2021.
The part-time regional staff positions were created earlier this year as part of an experimental leadership model designed to get back to the basics of Christian faith -- Loving God and Loving Neighbor--through local church ministries, said the Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, Director of Connectional Ministries. Rev. Lee will work with local churches to identify spiritual gifts and strengths for ministry and more effectively apply them in their communities to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Rev. Lee will officially begin her appointment on December 1, 2021.
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 1993, our home, our safe haven, was raided by rebels,” Lee said. “So we had to leave and move to Monrovia, the capital city of 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.
She attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., where she met her husband. 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.
“Rev. Lee will offer a fresh perspective and deep spiritual insight as we continue to introduce this new model of ministry to our Conference,” said Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, Director of Connectional Ministries. “Chenda is a welcome addition to the excellent Regional Staff we already have working with local churches in the Butler/Pittsburgh and Erie-Meadville/Kane regions.”