Reverend Dr. Willa M. Ross is a native of Jackson, Tennessee, she was raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she completed high school and began her higher education matriculation. She returned to Jackson, Tennessee in 1982 where she united with Mother Liberty Christian Methodist Episcopal Church under the leadership of Reverend Ronald M. Cunningham, now 53rd Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
Prior to accepting the call to ministry in 1998, Willa worked for the Federal Government for twenty years. She was licensed at Mother Liberty Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in April, 1999. She was ordained deacon by the East Tennessee Annual Conference, First Episcopal District in 2000, and Traveling Elder in 2002. She was accepted into Full Connection in July, 2005.
Upon accepting the call to ministry, Reverend Ross entered Memphis Theological Seminary
, where she earned her Master of Divinity Degree, graduating Summa Cum Laude in May 2002 and was recognized as the Alston Outstanding African American Female Student. She received her Doctor of Ministry Degree in May, 2008 in the area of Christian Education. Her Doctoral Dissertation is entitled Preparing and Equipping Leaders as Christ Bearers who Lead Youth in Mission. She was the recipient of the Outstanding African American Alumni Award in February, 2008.
She presently serves as the Executive Assistant to the General Secretary of Christian Education. She is responsible for the overall administration of the office and assists the General Secretary in the planning and development of Christian Education resources, workshops, and the coordination of the Connectional Youth and Young Adult Conference. She worked with the former General Secretary, Dr. Cunningham in the coordination and implementation of the 15th and 16th Annual C.M.E. Convocation and the Jubilee 2000 Connectional Youth and Young Adult Conferences. She assisted in the planning and coordination of the 2004 Connectional Youth and Youth Adult Conferences, Living Water and the planning and implementation of the 2008 Connectional Youth and Young Adult Conferences held in Orlando, Florida under the leadership of Dr. Carmichael Crutchfield, General Secretary of the Department of Christian Education. She served as the Youth Conference Coordinator for this event. She also assists the General Secretary in the curriculum planning and development of courses for the Annual C.M.E. Convocation. She has been employed by the Department of Christian Education since January, 1999.
Willa served as Pastor of Mt. Pleasant C.M.E. Church from June, 2003 to August, 2006; Pastor of New Carmel C.M.E. Church from January 2002 to June, 2003 and Assistant Pastor of Mother Liberty C.M.E. Church from January 2000 to January, 2003. She has served as Chairperson of the Commission on Membership and Evangelism on the local level, Director of Christian Education on the District Level and as an alternate delegate to the 2006 General Conference.
Presently she serves as an adjunct faculty member for Memphis Theological Seminary
where she recently teaches CME Polity, History and other courses including a course on Mentoring to African American Adolescent Girls. She serves on the ministerial staff of Greenwood Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Memphis, Tenn. under the leadership of Reverend Dr. Travis Robinson.
She serves as the CME Representative to three committees of the Education Leadership and Ministries Commission of the National Council of Churches; The Committee on Justice for Children and their Families, The Ecumenical Youth Ministries Staff Team, and the Committee on Black Congregational Ministries.
Reverend Ross is an advocate for children and youth and is passionate about Christian Education at every level of the church. She conducts workshops and seminars throughout the Connectional Church and other ecumenical circles. She is a committed preacher of the Gospel and is serious about the Commission of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 to make disciples.
She is the mother of three adult children, Kevin (Shemica) Gautreaux, Dorothy (Jevon) Sisnett and Chinitra Gautreaux, and one grandchild, Eva Paris Gautreaux.
Charles L. Coney, Technical Consultant & Certification Assistant Professor
Charles L. Coney is a native of Fitzgerald who has returned home after 20 years of education, corporate leadership, and community service. Relative to education, he is a Fitzgerald High School Honor Graduate, Middle Georgia College
Honor Graduate (Engineering Technology), DeVry University
Graduate (Technical Management—summa cum laude 4.0 GPA), and holds an M.B.A. in Human Resources from Keller Graduate School of Management
(summa cum laude 4.0 GPA). He has lived across the United States and in each city has connected with the local administrations and leaderships offering his talents in business and service. His corporate stints includes Arby’s Inc., MCI Telecommunications, Cotelligent , and REXAM and consulting experiences with Coca- Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Home Depot, City of Atlanta, and City of Denver. These companies sought his expertise relative to technology and most importantly the implementation and integration of same. His project teams ranged from ten (10) members to as large as 100+ working virtually across the globe.
He holds membership in the International Society of Human Resource Management
and the American Payroll Association. Additionally, he has served in national capacity and leadership for The Links Inc.
, MCI Foundation, Rotary International, Family Connection Partnership, Communities in Schools
, the African Methodist Episcopal Church
, and his membership, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
. He is the former Chief Administrative Officer for the Ben Hill County Board of Education. In this capacity, he directed and defined the technology function for the school district, developed and implemented Human Resources Administration for the Non-Certified Staff, and led the District’s Public and Community Relations.
From a very young age, Charles has worked and offered leadership in the Church. Recently, Charles returned home to offer his talents as Church Organist to his family church, Holsey Chapel C.M.E. Church
(“The Chapel”) in Fitzgerald. His experiences include Gospel Music Workshop of America
recordings and leadership in the A.M.E. Connectional Church. He serves each Sunday with The Chapel’s Director of Music
, Mrs. Annie Pearl Stepherson. Ironically, Mrs. Stepherson was Charles’ Sunday School teacher and Youth Choir director. She has trained him well! His music and church administration gifts were recently showcased at the C.M.E. Sixth Episcopal District
Quadrennial Conference with the “Voices of the Sixth”
recording with National Gospel Artist, Chester D. T. Baldwin. Additionally, he is instrumental in technology leadership as the Sixth Episcopal District
Coordinator on the Connectional Communication of Information and Technology (CIT) Ministry and also a Founding Member and Advisory Committee Member of the organization (created during the 2010 C.M.E. General Conference). In conjunction, he works locally as a Steward, locally as the Director of Christian Education
, and connectionally with the Ministry to Men Department