Q & A with Rev. Doreen Smalls, Southwest District Superintendent
This is the first in a two-part series that will introduce the new District Superintendents
ADVOCATE: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Have you always lived in South Georgia?
REV. SMALLS: I grew up in small-town Ehrhardt, S.C. with my parents and siblings. Ehrhardt is a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone. I remained in South Carolina through college and for a few years after college. I moved to Columbus, Ga. upon the urging of one my older sisters who lived there at the time. While residing in Columbus I joined South Columbus United Methodist Church and have been in South Georgia ever since.
ADVOCATE: What’s your faith journey?
REV. SMALLS: My parents were intentional about setting a solid Christian foundation. My parents were both dedicated to our local United Methodist Church (Friendship UMC) and ensured my siblings and I were active as well. I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior at an early age and I am not aware of a time when I didn’t know of God’s existence or God’s love. I’ve always been connected to a local United Methodist Church and continued to serve in various lay ministries. It was instilled in me by my parents that we are blessed to be a blessing. I found joy serving in the church as a lay person and ordained ministry was never a thought or consideration. I was content in my career as a Medicare Fraud Investigator and was certain that I was on the right path to an even more promising future. But a few years after joining South Columbus UMC I received my call to ministry. After several months of prayers, reflection, and running, I surrendered to God’s call to ordained ministry. A year later, I entered Gammon Seminary. Since graduation, I’ve served in the South Georgia Conference. I am grateful that I continue to live out my faith through service in The United Methodist Church.
ADVOCATE: What are your visions, goals and hopes for the district?
REV. SMALLS: My vision for the Southwest District is to remain connected and focused on the mission. We face uncertain times as a denomination, but I am certain of God’s love for us and God’s will for us to share the Good News. I am reminded of the quote from Tod Bolsinger’s book, “Canoeing the Mountains,” and that is to Stay Calm, Stay Connected, Stay the Course.
ADVOCATE: What are the things that most excite you about the district and/or the South Georgia Conference?
REV. SMALLS: The people of the Southwest District excite me the most. There is such incredible potential to grow the kingdom of God and to transform even more lives. I’m excited about moving forward together as a district and a conference. I want us to continue to reflect the conference theme, “Alive Together in Christ.”
ADVOCATE: What do you like best about serving in the South Georgia Conference?
REV. SMALLS: The connectionalism that is present at all levels in the conference. We are at our best when we serve and work together in unity.
ADVOCATE: Tell us about your family.
REV. SMALLS: I am the youngest of 13 siblings. I have two brothers and 11 sisters. All my siblings live in South Carolina except one brother who lives in New York. Both of my parents are deceased.
ADVOCATE: What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies and interests?
REV. SMALLS: I like going to the movies and completing puzzles online. I love spending time with my family when I have the opportunity. I love listening to all kinds of music and going to concerts.
ADVOCATE: What’s one fact about you that most people don’t know?
REV. SMALLS: I received a commercial driver’s license when I was 16 and drove school buses during high school.