Celebrating Black History Month in the WNCC: Rev. Dr. Arnetta E. Beverly

February 23, 2023

By: Jim Pyatt, WNCC Archivist & Historian

Rev. Dr. Arnetta E. Beverly 

The Rev. Dr. Arnetta Beverly has come full circle, for in retirement she serves as pastor of her home church, St. Stephen in Lexington. To get to this point, though, she has served the Lord in many ways, frequently blazing a new trail at the time. “In high school, Beverly wondered ‘what was the difference between First United Methodist Church down on Main Street and St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church four blocks up, two blocks over?’ She called the white pastor of First United Methodist and arranged to attend a Sunday service as part of a school assignment comparing the two congregations. When she walked into her segregated high school on Monday morning, ‘The principal was all over me because I was trying to integrate the church,’ Beverly said. ‘Some of the good white folks had called to complain.’” (Duke Divinity Magazine, Winter 2003, p. 9) The good news is that more than twenty years ago she was invited back to preach at First UMC, Lexington, and was warmly received.

Dr. Beverly, upon graduation from high school, moved to New York, where she was a bank teller, a funeral director, and a police officer. Upon her return to North Carolina, she served as a Deputy with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department. She also returned to school, receiving her A.A. degree from Davidson County Community College, B.A. from Shaw University, M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, and D.Min. from Drew University. She was licensed as a Local Pastor in 1986, ordained Deacon and received as a Probationary Member in 1991, and ordained Elder and received into Full Connection in 1995. As a clergy member of the WNC Conference she has served the following appointments: 1986-92 Chestnut Grove-Piney Grove; 1992-98 Eden:St. John-Chapel Hill; 1998-2001 Director of Nurture and Ethnic Ministries; 2001-07 Northeast District Superintendent; 2007-08 Director of Connectional Ministries; 2008-16 Greensboro:St. Matthews; 2017-present Lexington:St. Stephen. She was the first woman to serve as pastor at St. John, Chapel Hill, St. Matthews, and St. Stephen UMCs.

The Rev. Beverly was also the first African-American woman to serve as Director of Nurture and Ethnic Ministries, to serve as a District Superintendent in the WNC Conference, and to serve as a Director of Connectional Ministries in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.

Dr. Beverly has served in the WNC Conference in a number of ways, including as a member of the Commission on Religion and Race 1990-92, Secretary of the Commission on Equitable Salaries 1992-96, Secretary of the Board of Ordained Ministry 1996-2001, Chair of the Justice and Reconciliation Team 2012-16, and member of the Committee on the Episcopacy 2012-16. She was elected as an alternate delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 1996, and as a delegate to General Conference in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, the first African American female clergy to be elected to serve in this capacity in the WNC Conference. Dr. Beverly was a candidate for the Episcopacy at Jurisdictional Conference in 2004 and 2008. She was also privileged to serve on the Commission on General Conference.

In 1987 Arnetta Beverly was the first African-American elected to the Lexington City Council, and was re-elected in 1989, resigning in 1992 when she was appointed to Eden.

Dr. Beverly is proud of her family of two sons, nine grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. While she entered the retired relationship with the conference in 2016, she knows that God is not through with her yet. As she told me, “My journey has been wonderful.” The WNC Conference has been and continues to be blessed by the gifts, graces, and leadership of God’s servant Arnetta Beverly.

Be sure to read the other biographies written by WNCC Archivist & Historian Jim Pyatt:

Rev. Dr. James Walter Ferree, Sr., involved in realigning the North Carolina-Virginia Conference into what is now the three separate North Carolina, Western North Carolina, and Virginia Conferences.

Rev. Cecil Harvey Marcellus, Jr., the first African-American elected to the Reidsville City Council, where he served for three full terms and part of a fourth term.

Dr. David Dallas Jones, the president of Bennett College from 1926-1955.

Rev. William Hornbuckle, a Native American ordained Deacon in 1928 and Elder in 1931.

Daphine Strickland, part of the Task Force that led to the organization of Triad Native American Church, the first Native American congregation in our Conference outside of Cherokee.

Thomas Queen, the Director of the Cherokee Mission from 1973 until his death in 1992.

Jeremiah Wolfe, the first Native American to be elected a delegate to General Conference from the WNCC in 1976.

Rev. David Ortigoza, the Director of Hispanic and Latino Ministries for the SEJ in 2003.

Rev. Diana Wingeier-Rayo, the first Hispanic/Latina woman to be received into full clergy membership in the WNC Conference.

Raul Adriano, the first known person of Hispanic/Latino heritage to be elected by The WNCC to serve as a Lay Delegate to General Conference.

Rev. Carlos Alberto Rodriguez, a key figure at the Board of Missions Office of The WNCC in 1961.

Rev. Dr. Abraham Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a clergy delegate to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. Karen Miyoshi Kagiyama, the first Asian-American women to be ordained an Elder in the WNCC.

In Muk Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a delegate (clergy or lay) to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. M. B. Lee McCrary, the first woman to become a full clergy member of the Western North Carolina Conference. 

Rev. Dolores Barus Queen, the first woman to serve as District Superintendent in the Western NC Conference.

Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer, the first (and to date, the only) woman to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Jettie Morrison, a key figure in the Women's Society of Christian Service and the integration of The United Methodist Church in 1968.

Bishop L. Scott Allen (May 4, 1918-September 18, 2004), the first (and to date, the only) African-American to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Effie Miller (September 17, 1930-September 1, 2008), a leader in the Western North Carolina Conference and the United Methodist Church, especially with regard to the United Methodist Women.

The Rev. Dr. J. C. Peters (July 10, 1925- July 2, 1998)the first African-American to serve as a District Superintendent in the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mr. Clarence Winchester,  a leader in the North Carolina Conference (Central Jurisdiction) and in the WNC Conference.

Dr. Isaac Miller (September 26, 1920-November 1, 2008), a leader in Higher Education and in the United Methodist Church.

#BeUMC Personal Reflections