Meet the Advocate board
The Advocate is managed by a staff of two—Editor Jessica Brodie and Assistant Editor Allison Trussell—with a visionary Board of Trustees serving as its publisher. The current 14-member board is led by Dr. J. Christopher Greene, chair, along with Vice Chair Dyron Anderson, Treasurer the Rev. Steven King and Secretary Creg Smith. Ex officio are Dan O'Mara and the Rev. Cameron Levi.
Board members—half of them laity and half clergy—serve four-year terms and meet quarterly. If you are interested in serving on the Advocate’s board, email [email protected].
Current members are as follows:
Dr. J. Christopher Greene, chair
Greene is an elder in full connection in the South Carolina Annual Conference having served churches in the annual conference since 2008. He has served previously as pastor of Foster’s Chapel and Bethlehem United Methodist churches (2008-2012) in Union County (Spartanburg District). He is currently pastor of Shiloh UMC (2012-2020) in Gilbert (Columbia District). Greene is in his second term as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Advocate. He has also been board secretary. Greene has a passion for worship and music, leading disciples of all ages into transformative faith practices and witness and transforming churches to do effective disciple-making ministry and build inclusive Christ-centered community in an ever-changing post-modern world. He serves on many boards including Columbia District and Conference Connectional Ministries, Committee on Standing Rules and Reconciling Ministries of South Carolina. He sees his work with the Advocate as one of the many ways he contributes to the building up our connection as United Methodists in South Carolina. He holds a Master of Divinity and a Doctor in Ministry.
Dyron V. Anderson, vice chair
A native of Mayesville, Anderson is the firstborn of three children to Willie Mae Anderson. A graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, he received his post-high school education at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in biology. He has also done post-graduate studies at University of South Carolina in Columbia. He is currently employed with BCBS of SC as an account coordinator. He is also a licensed SC Agent for Life, accident and health, as well as has achieved national accreditation as a certified health insurance agent. Prior to his current employment, he was employed as a microbiologist for LabCorp and formerly Hoffmann-La Roche Bio Medical Laboratories for more than a decade.
A lifelong member of Mount Moriah UMC in the Hartsville District, Anderson has served extensively in several capacities. He presently serves as chair of the Finance Committee, Oswego Circuit lay member delegate to South Carolina Annual Conference, local chapter UMMen president, president of the Male Chorus, member on the S/PPRC and sings with the Inspirational Choir. He also serves as the secretary for the conference UMMen. He has formerly served as Hartsville District UMMen president, as well as for numerous years on various Hartsville District committees, such as the Committee on Superintendency, Connectional Outreach Ministries, Nominations/Lay Leadership and Committee on Congregational Development and Redevelopment.
Anderson is affiliated with several civic, community and fraternal organizations where he has achieved numerous awards and recognitions. He is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. and Do Right Masonic Lodge #277. He is eternally grateful to God for the many blessings continuously bestowed upon him and for giving him the tenacity to remain committed to the task that he has been charged to complete.
Rev. Steven King, treasurer
King is an elder in full connection in the South Carolina Annual Conference having served churches in the conference since 1999. He has served as pastor in one, two and three-point charges in the Upstate and Midlands. He is currently pastor of New Hope UMC in the Anderson District. Prior to going into full-time ministry, King was a professional civil engineer in Spartanburg and Greenville. He is married to the Rev. Sandra Smith King, who is also a full elder in the conference.
They have one daughter, Lisa; a son-in-law, Michael; and two granddaughters, Kendall and Bailey. King is in his second term as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Advocate. Previously he served as secretary of the board and then a one-year term as president.
He is currently serving as treasurer.
Creg Smith, secretary
Smith, a native Georgian, attended Young Harris College, a Methodist college in north Georgia, and like Bishop Jonathan Holston is a graduate of the University of Georgia. He received a degree in radio/TV/film journalism at Georgia and while there worked for the Atlanta Constitution. Upon graduation he moved to Roanoke, Virginia, and joined the news staff of WSLS-TV-AM-FM. He served as a reporter, photographer and anchor. While there he met and married his wife, Karen, a lifelong Methodist and graduate of Emory and Henry College, a Methodist college in Emory, Virginia.
Based on his news and communications experience he accepted a position in Atlanta representing the petroleum industry in public and government affairs. That led to a career that spanned 36 years working in state and regional offices in Atlanta, as well as Washington, D.C., for nearly 25 years. He retired in 2009 and relocated to South Carolina in 2015. After retirement he used his experience preparing/editing a newsletter for some fellow retirees. Before moving to South Carolina, he served on the Board of Communications of the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Since moving to South Carolina, he has initiated a neighborhood newsletter, served on his homeowner association’s communications committee, served as a lay delegate to 2019’s South Carolina Annual Conference and last year was appointed to the board of the Advocate.
He is active in performing arts and choral activities in Sun City Carolina Lakes and serves as a barbecue judge. He and his wife have two sons, two daughters-in-law, a granddaughter and a bonus grandson. Those families live in Waxhaw, North Carolina, and West Point, Virginia.
Rev. Carleathea M. Benson
Benson is the daughter of the late Connie F. Major Chapman and Harry B. Reid. Born in Calhoun, which was the black side of Clemson, she was reared by her maternal great-grandparents until they decided to go north for better employment opportunities. Benson moved to Seneca to live with her mother and stepfather. She joined St. James Methodist Church under the pastoral leadership of the Rev. Granville A. Hicks. There she flourished under the guidance of Evelyn Sloan and Rubielee L. Addison. Addison was instrumental in Benson’s involvement in the local church’s Methodist Youth Fellowship and the after-merger UMYF. Benson has served at the Southeastern Jurisdiction, national, district and conference levels of the church. She has attended every General Conference except for three. She was at the called General Conference in 2019.
Benson was educated in the segregated public schools (East End Elementary and Blue Ridge High School) until desegregation, when she moved to Seneca High School for her junior and senior year. She was active in sports as a basketball player and a cheerleader, and she was a part of state basketball championship teams at both high schools.
Benson married after graduating high school. She worked in manufacturing and retail for several years until she was hired at Tri-County Technical College in the admissions office. While at Tri-County, she earned associate’s degrees along with a certification in office management. She served a vice president on the state board for technical education for the years. She was blessed with two daughters, Denita (an educator in the Greenville County School System) and Zephorah (a UMC chaplain working in hospice care). In addition, she has three grandsons, Rhett and twins Derrick and Dominic.
In 1983, Benson joined the staff in admissions at Clemson University. She went from undergraduate admissions to graduate admissions and the Office of International Services. After 12 years, she joined the staff in Computer Science in the College of Engineering and Science as the student services coordinator for both the undergraduate and graduate programs. Later, she would manage the graduate program only. She founded the Computer Science African-American Alliance in order to give African-American Computer Science students recognition for their academic achievements. She brought Dr. Essie Mae Washington Williams to Clemson University and was instrumental in Williams signing over her papers to the Strom Thurmond Institute on campus. She also had a portrait of Williams hung in the Strom Thurmond Institute so that his African-American daughter could be properly recognized. Benson retired from Clemson University as staff emeritus, after working with Provost Helms and Disability Services and rendering 33 years of service with the state. Upon retiring, she traveled to Africa with the bishop and then to Israel.
Benson taught the Basic Lay Speaking/Lay Servant Ministries course in the Anderson District for 28 years. She was also invited to teach the basic course for a church in the South Georgia Annual Conference. When she answered her call to ministry in 2007, she attended Chandler at Emory University. God blessed her to serve a three-point charge while working at Clemson University and then a station church for seven years. She retired in 2014.
In her last appointment in Lake City, Benson aided in the liquidation of a $65,420 direct billing debt, which was paid off in a year and a half’s time. The membership grew by 13 the first full year and two in her last year. She continues to serve as the facilitator for the conference committee on Ethnic Local Church Concerns. She has served on the conference level for 41 years. She also served the MYF/UMYF for five years. She teaches Bible study on Wednesday night at Central UMC, Central, and assists the pastor as needed. She also participates in and teaches a Bible study at the home of Dr. Pat. Wannamaker, in which international students attend and are surrendering their lives to Jesus. Benson looks forward to continuing to serve God by touching lives and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ wherever she goes.
Dr. J. William Click
Click was chair of the Department of Mass Communication at Winthrop University 27 years until retiring in August 2014. He served on the Advocate board as chair of the Commission on Communications 2008-2012 and later two elected terms, 2013-2021. He was board chair 2015-2019. Before coming to South Carolina, he was director of the Manship School of Journalism at Louisiana State University four years and taught journalism 18 years at Ohio University and six years at Central Michigan University. He has been lay leader of Aldersgate UMC, Rock Hill, since 2002 and was a lay member of Annual Conference 2000-2018. He was Rock Hill District lay leader six years and now serves on the District Committee on Ordained Ministry. Click has been a lay servant since 1997. He and his wife, Dixie, have two sons: Reid, an associate professor of international business at George Washington University, and Kevin, retired from the Microsoft Dallas, Texas, office.
Click enjoys reading Bible commentaries and books on theology, church growth and Christian living. He led the ad hoc group that created the prayer room at Aldersgate. He has been president of five national journalism organizations and is in the Journalism Halls of Fame of Ball State University, Central Michigan University and the College Media Association.
Linda J. DuRant
A lifelong Methodist, DuRant was born and reared in Greenville and was the daughter of Jack Dudley and Margaret Lane Jones. She attended Columbia College earning a B.A. in speech/theatre in 1968. She has been a member of the Columbia College Alumnae Association for 30 years and serves on the Special Events Committee for the Alumnae Council. She served on the church and college committee and as co-chair of the Class of 1968 Reunion committee. She is a member and former president of the alumnae club at Columbia College.
A member of Chapin United Methodist Church, DuRant sings in the Chancel Choir, assists in the production aspects of holiday cantatas and serves as a backup volunteer in the church office. She has served in various capacities on the church council since joining the church in 1975 and was a member of the building committee when the church started to grow in the mid 1980s. She is an active member of the Marjorie Derrick Circle and the Chapin Unit of United Methodist Women. She has served as secretary, vice president and president of the circle and during the 1990s served as unit treasurer, vice president and was unit president 1999-2002 and was named as Woman of the Year in 2003. She was the spiritual growth coordinator for the Columbia District from 2001-2004, served as assistant dean of School of Christian Mission in 2005 and 2006 and was elected as vice president of South Carolina Conference of United Methodist Women in 2007-2010 and as president in 2011-2014.
DuRant was a charter member of the Media Club of Columbia, a professional group of people involved in the creative aspects of media. She served as president of this organization in 1980 and 1981. She chairs the Advocate’s nominations committee.
DuRant is the stage manager for the South Carolina Annual Conference and serves as secretary of the Annual Conference Committee and a member of the production team. She was elected as a delegate to the Southeastern Jurisdiction in 2012 and 2016. She also worked with the SEJ team as stage manager/producer when SEJ was held in Charleston. She is active in her community, serving as the vice president of the Chapin Theatre Company, as well as acting and producing plays for the community. She was a member of the Greater Chapin Community Endowment for three years.
DuRant retired from South Carolina Educational Television in 2009 as the executive producer for educational productions. She was the first woman to hold the position of producer director at the network. She and her husband, Billy, celebrated 50 years of marriage in December and they have one daughter, Jaclin Alexandra DuRant, and a son-in-law, Dave Sheppard, who live in Taylors.
Rev. Sh’Kur M.R. Francis
Francis, pastor of Grace and Lynnwood UMCs in Lancaster, was born in Charleston and graduated from Winthrop University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and history. He earned a Master of Divinity from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, where he served as a social media ambassador and student admissions ambassador. He has also pursued professional education certificates in church management and administration at Howard University, Villanova University and the University of California-Davis.
At an early age, Francis used his voice to serve as an advocate to move his community forward. As a young community leader, he organized his first voter registration campaign at the age of 11, led efforts that registered hundreds of new voters and led various political and civic initiatives throughout his local community. At Winthrop University, he served as president of the Winthrop Chapter of the NAACP and an officer in the school’s pre-law fraternity and political science honors society.
In addition to his work in local churches, he was employed as a middle school teacher in Lancaster County and serves as the executive director of The Bridge, an outreach ministry that provides hot meals and weekly groceries to needy families in the Lancaster community.
Francis enjoys many outdoor activities, traveling, reading and spending time with his family.
Rev. Dr. Sheila L. Elliott Hodge
Elliott Hodge is a native of Columbia, and she is married to Dr. Anthony Hodge, senior pastor of Cumberland UMC in Florence.
An ordained elder in the South Carolina Annual Conference, she is currently serving as the senior pastor of Silver Hill Memorial UMC, Spartanburg. She is a graduate of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.
Prior to pursuing her call to full-time ordained ministry, Elliott Hodge was the first tenured African-American professor at Columbia College, and she received her Ph.D. in international relations theory and practice from the University of South Carolina.
A 2010 Riley Institute Diversity Fellow (a program of Furman University), she endeavors to be continually engaged in issues of diversity, difference and child advocacy. She is an adjunct professor at Lenoir Rhyne University-Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, in Columbia where she teaches classes on preaching, namely social justice preaching, preaching in the African-American tradition and prophetic preaching.
She is a member of the Walk to Emmaus and is a graduate of the Mediation Skills Training Institute sponsored by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.
Enid Brockington Jenkins is a native of Charleston and a 1986 graduate of Burke High School in downtown Charleston. She furthered her education at Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama, where she earned a B.A. in social work in 1990. In 1993, she completed her M.A. in rehabilitation counseling with a minor in counseling education from South Carolina State University, Orangeburg.
Jenkins has an extensive work history in South Carolina state government to include working for Disabilities and Special Needs Board in Charleston as a services coordinator and Charleston/Dorchester Community Mental Health Center as a mental health counselor. In 1996, she accepted a position as a service coordinator with the Governor’s Office Division of Continuum of Care, where she moved up the ranks to supervisor and in 2006 was promoted to the position of regional director for the Lowcountry, supervising case management operations for 10 counties.
In 2012, she accepted the position of county director for Berkeley County Department of Social Services and in 2016 accepted the position of Lowcountry regional director for the Department of Social Services. She is an active member of Wesley UMC, Ladson. She serves as worship chairperson and on the Senior and Combined Choirs. She is married to Anthony L. Jenkins and they have a daughter, Amaris L. Jenkins, of Macon, Georgia.
Rev. Karen Hollis Radcliffe
Radcliffe was born in Rock Hill to Ann Hollis and Ralph D. Radcliffe Sr. She has been serving United Methodist churches as an elder for the past 33 years after hearing the call to ministry at the Lake Chapel at Asbury Hills. Radcliffe is currently serving as senior pastor of St. John’s UMC in Fort Mill.
She loves to lead worship, teach and participate in a variety of mission opportunities. During her time in ministry, Radcliffe has served on many boards and agencies. Throughout her ministry, she has been a strong advocate for the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.
In her leisure time, she enjoys golf, tennis and gardening, as well as spending time with her nephew, Wylan, and niece, Madalin.
Rev. Chrisie Reeves-Pendergrass
Reeves-Pendergrass grew up in Eastern New Mexico and West Texas and is the daughter of a minister and schoolteacher. She went to college at the University of Texas at El Paso and studied clinical health psychology and English and American literature, graduating in 2011. Throughout her college years, Reeves-Pendergrass worked at various churches and served as everything from an intern to a youth director to a children’s director.
Reeves-Pendergrass then attended Duke Divinity School from 2011-2014 where she received her Master of Divinity. She is currently an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church serving in the South Carolina Annual Conference as the pastor at Gilbert UMC, Gilbert. In 2012, she married the Rev. Weston Pendergrass, who is also a United Methodist minister in South Carolina. They adopted a beautiful and curious baby boy in 2016.
Deaconess Selena Ruth Smith
A native of Mayesville, Smith is the daughter of Lawrence Smith Jr and the late Ruth Wilson Smith. She has a brother, Kenneth J. Smith. Selena Ruth is a graduate of Columbia College (bachelor’s degree) and Columbia Southern University (master’s degree). She is a former elected official (Town Council Mayesville) and currently a commissioner for the Sumter County Election & Voter Registration Board.
Smith is employed by the City of Sumter as a firefighter and EMT. She was commissioned as deaconess for The United Methodist Church April 29, 2012, at General Conference in Tampa, Florida. She is active in her church, St. Mark UMC, Mayesville. Her favorite Scripture is Galatians 3:28. Her ministry is fire safety in places of worship.
She is member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and her motto in life is, “Be safe and stay hydrated.”
Dr. R. Phillip Stone
Stone grew up in Spartanburg and is a lifelong member of Bethel UMC. He earned his undergraduate degree in history and government at Wofford College, his M.A. in history at the University of Georgia, and his Ph.D. in history at the University of South Carolina. He has been the archivist at Wofford and for the Annual Conference since 1999, and since 2008 has taught a variety of classes for the history and government departments. He’s been a lay member of Annual Conference since 2002 and serves on various boards in Spartanburg. He’s been on the Advocate board since 2012, and writes a From the Archives column most months.