Our Grove United Methodist Church staff

  • Minister of Grove UMC
  • Trained as a Transition Intentional Interim Ministry Specialist
  • Leadership Coach
  • Loves finding and experiencing God through the created world
  • Passionate about journeying with God's people on their individual and faith journeys
  • Grew up loving Jesus
  • 26 years as a United Methodist Minister
  • MDiv from Duke; DMin from Wesley Theological, DC in Spirituality and Story (doctoral focus in transition ministry)
  • Three guiding principals: Truth, Integrity, and Authenticity
  • Favorite quote: "To tell a story is to speak a world into being"
  • Favorite scripture: "All things work together for good for those who love God who are called according to God's purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Ila Shepisi - Deacon in Residence

  • Girl Mom x 4
  • Girl Scout leader who needs Disney and loves Jesus
  • Passionate about youth ministry and spiritual development
  • Essential oil enthusiast and happy planner
  • Recreational Therapist with a Masters of Theological Studies Degree from Drew Theological Seminary
  • Concentration in camping and retreat ministries
  • 18 years (and counting) experience providing services and programming for people with dementia and their caregivers
  • I have 6 children and have been married to Richard for almost 32 years. We have been in the area for about 19 years, moving here from coastal North Carolina. I have lived near the beaches most of my life, having grown up on Long Island NY, then moved to the beaches of NC, but living through 5 major hurricanes in 2 years in North Carolina convinced me I wanted to be somewhere else! So, I moved to the mountains of Virginia.
  • I love visiting my children.  All live in other states except our daughter, Crystal.  She and
    I often attend services at Grove together.
  • My hobbies include sewing, painting, and arts and crafts.  I once had an Arts and Crafts
    store in Pulaski, and loved teaching others art.  I have been using my sewing skills
    recently to provide Heart-shaped Pillows for cancer patients to protect them from
    seatbelts that irritate their chest after they have had imaging done.
  • I have a dog, Benny, a Miniature Schnauzer, and a 3-legged cat named Lucky. I found
    Lucky in the middle of the road and took him home with me.  He had been injured and
    his right front leg needed to be amputated.  Through the generosity of others, we were
    able to have the surgery done and he is doing great!
  • Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia
  • 31 years teaching music and theater arts K – 12 (public and parochial)
  • 19 years as a part-time choir director (various churches)
  • 11 years as a full-time minister of music
  • U.S. Army veteran
  • Ordained to the Gospel Ministry
  • BM in Music Education (University of Georgia)
  • MA in Curriculum and Instruction (University of Northern Colorado)
  • MM in Music Education (Georgia State University)
  • DMA in Church Music (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
  • Married to Peggy Ann Watkins Borden for 51 years
  • Has two children, Robyn and Benjamin, and five grandsons

Libby Watts - Handbell Choir Director

  • At Grove UMC, I love the music ministry, singing in the chancel choir, playing oboe or piano, and directing handbells.
  • Married to my husband, Skip, with three grown children and seven grandchildren
  • Teach chemistry and physical science at Radford University
  • Enjoy walking, biking, and spending time with family all over the country