Cannon UMC Deacon is Called to be a Writer


By Ansley Brackin
Communications Specialist for North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church

Deacon Clara Welch was always told in school that she flourished in writing. However, when first ordained, “writer” was not one of the many hats she wore.

Before being appointed to Georgia, Welch served in Maryland, South Carolina, and also taught music at United Methodist Red Bird Mission in Kentucky.

In 2008, two years after Welch arrived at Oak Grove UMC of Decatur, her mother passed away; her father, a former United Methodist pastor, moved from Alabama to live closer to his daughter. Shortly following, Welch’s position was let go due to the economic decline.

The deacon saw the detriment as a door to opportunities. To pursue a writing career would not only allow her to use some of her favorite skills, but also she would have a work schedule that would allow her to spend more time with her father.

She was first published by United Methodist Publishing House in 2009. Welch excelled in her first assignment and was contracted to write bible studies shortly after.

Since her writing debut, the deacon has written with several writers, including J. Ellsworth Kalas, United Methodist minister and former president of Asbury Theological Seminary. Other writers include Tim Brayn, a professor at Iliff School of Theology, and Randy Cross, a superintendent of the Dakotas Annual Conference.

Despite the collection of writers, Welch says she does not have a favorite.

“All of the writers are so different,” Welch explains, “they all have inspiring stories and different takes on the scripture.”

Welch has written for four daily bible study books on various scriptures. She wrote a student bible study book as well as two adult teacher bible studies, one of which she is finishing for spring of 2014.

The deacon later learned that one of her books was taken to be used at a prison. Welch’s writing then became a source of outreach.

“Does it give people enough to hold on to in the Christian faith,” she now considers in her composition, “whether they are in jail or in other situations?”

She must envision the broad scaled audience she and her fellow writers must meet. Readers come from different situations and levels of education. The books are written to relate to those with at least an 8th grade education level, but scholarly readers use the books as well.

When writing a lesson, she often imagines it being used by people at Oak Grove or other congregations where she has served. 

She has received several calls of praise from former church members. Some of her past appointed churches have enthusiastically supported her writing career. Mountain Park UMC of Stone Mountain not only uses her lessons, but has invited Welch to speak at their bible study.

Welch has always enjoyed researching the scriptures assigned by the United Methodist Publishing House, some of her favorites being Genesis and other Old Testament pieces. Each assignment gives her a new opportunity to relate the scriptures to today’s world.

She recalls knowing little about Joseph before having to create an adult bible study based on his story.

“He and I are old friends now,” she muses.

Deacon Clara Welch continues to write for United Methodist Publishing House while serving at Cannon United Methodist Church of Snellville in pastoral care, hospital care, and child care. There, she is also a short drive from her father.

You can purchase Welch’s most recent bible study on the Cokesbury website.