The Rev. Joe T. Mitchell, Interim
After serving in the Dioceses of Southwestern Virginia, Upper South Carolina, New York, Lexington, and North Carolina, Fr. Joe joined St. James’ as our Interim Rector on September 3, 2023.
Born and raised in the coalfields of Appalachia, Fr. Joe was baptized, confirmed, and ordained by the people of All Saints in Norton, VA, where he began as an acolyte at six years old, preached his first sermon at 13, and led Morning Prayer at 16. The Rev. Fran McCoy, Rector of All Saints for much of his life, had a huge impact on his life, and Fr. Joe credits her as one of his spiritual heroes.
After graduating from Centre College in Danville, KY with a degree in history and theatre – along with pitching for the Colonels baseball team for four years – he coached college ball at Pikeville University in Pikeville, KY, less than an hour from where he grew up. Going home on weekends and occasionally being asked to preach helped sow the seeds for a moment on Thanksgiving of 2006 when he finally heard what God had been saying to him since childhood, and he entered the ordination process.
Prior to seminary he served for two years as the Director of Youth at St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church in Aiken, SC, where he was part of an interim team led by The Rev. Ella Breckenridge. While at St. Thaddeus, he helped build a youth program based on experiential learning and appreciative inquiry that has continued in the years since.
He earned his M.Div, at The General Theological Seminary in New York City. While there he interned at Trinity Wall Street – as he says, “So that my grandmother could watch me on Sundays!” – leading adult formation classes, coordinating the Brown Bag feeding program, and starting a Bible study with members of Occupy Wall Street.
Graduation from seminary took him to Lexington, Kentucky as the Curate at Christ Church Cathedral. His ministry was centered around liturgy and young adult ministry, but he also served as the Campus Missioner for St. Augustine’s Chapel at the University of Kentucky.
After much discernment and prayer, he felt God calling him to be a Rector. For the past eight years he served the people of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Asheboro, NC. While there he developed new liturgies – such as a Celtic Eucharist, Lenten Vespers, Mass on the Grass, Blue Christmas, and Pride Mass. His ministry focused on ecumenical relationships, including hosting a Pentecostal prayer service and anti-racism work with the local NAACP.
Also during his time in North Carolina, he met Kristen Leigh Southworth, a singer-songwriter, artist, theologian, Formation leader, and bootleg preacher with her own M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Together they form the indestructible TEAM KROE!
Kristen is a licensed Spiritual Director and is available for counseling and conversation. She also offers workshops on the Enneagram and Singing as a Spiritual Practice. A native of Greensboro, NC, Kristen also spent time in upstate New York, near the hamlet of Rensselaeerville, and is excited to return to a part of the country very near and dear to her.
Team Kroe are thrilled to be joining St. James’ during this interim season!