The Rev. Walter Strawther has been appointed to serve as the congregational specialist for the Columbia and Hartsville districts of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, as well as the specialist for African-American ministries. He succeeds the Rev. Millie Nelson Smith, who was appointed last year as director of Connectional Ministries.
Strawther had been serving as associate pastor of Hibben United Methodist Church in Mount Pleasant since 2015.
“Rev. Strawther is a humble, principled leader with a deep, abiding faith in God and great compassion for the people of God,” Nelson Smith said. “The knowledge, experience and wisdom that he brings to this work already are blessing the local churches we serve.
“In this time, when strong, adaptive leadership is crucial, I believe that God has called and prepared him for such a time as this.”
Strawther was ordained as a full elder in 2017, following his graduation in 2015 from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with a master of divinity degree. He earned a master of arts degree in teaching from the University of South Carolina in 1996 and a bachelor of arts degree in history from Winthrop University in 1992.
Before his appointment to Hibben UMC in 2015, Strawther served Wesley UMC in Aiken from 2012 to 2015.
In addition to his work in local churches, he has served on district and conference boards and committees, including the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry since 2019, and the Charleston District Committee on Ordained Ministry from 2018 to 2021, serving as chairperson 2020-2021.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work with the clergy and laity of the Columbia and Hartsville districts as we continue to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Strawther said. “I am also thrilled to join with the clergy and laity of African-American congregations throughout the South Carolina Conference to provide resources and support that meet the unique needs presented based on the history of the African-American church in our denomination and society.
“As one who has been grafted into The United Methodist Church through marriage, I am appreciative of the focus on connection and hope to strengthen the connection in ministry as a congregational specialist.”
Strawther and his spouse, Toni Strawther, have two daughters, Morgan and Maegan. Strawther is a walker and avid reader, primarily of biographies and historical fiction.
Congregational specialists work with local churches to help them fulfill their mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. They equip local churches for increased effectiveness in ministry and connect churches with resources around the conference.