By REBECCA WALLACE
Evening news anchor Jennie Montgomery decided she wanted to be a journalist in 8th grade. Specifically, she wanted to be Barbara Walters. What would probably make Barbara jealous is that Jennie landed her first journalism job at Lake Junaluska! At age 17, Jennie was hired as the Assembly Daily editor at the United Methodist conference and retreat center, making her the youngest summer staffer to hold the post.
Raised as a United Methodist, Jennie recalls church always being a big part of her family life.
“As early as being a teenager, I remember feeling like I had a voice in the church,” she reflects. “Our youth group was going through some divisiveness, so I went to the Council on Ministries and told them what I thought was the root of the cause. I liked that I had a chance to be heard. From then on, I always felt like I had a voice. It was a moment that stuck with me.”
When she returned to her home church after college, she says she truly began to appreciate the ethical side of the religion, specifically taking interest in the Book of Discipline and Social Principles.
“At that formative age, I really appreciated the way United Methodists recognized and responded to social issues,” she recalls.
When Jennie married husband Scott Elledge, who was also raised in The United Methodist Church, they became MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) leaders. She had the chance to share the beauty of Lake Junaluska with her youth, as it was a popular place for retreats and ski trips.
When their careers took them to Augusta in the 90s, Jennie and Scott joined Aldersgate UMC. They felt comfortable from the moment they walked in the door. Jennie had become a broadcast journalist by this point and was working as a news anchor for a local television station, becoming a bit of a public figure in Augusta.
“When we visited other churches, there were times we couldn’t help but be aware of the whispering, but no one would speak to us! Aldersgate was different,” Jennie said.
Today an award-winning broadcast journalist — including two prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards — Jennie still credits her strong background in The United Methodist Church for finding her voice.
Rebecca Wallace is a communications consultant (and United Methodist) in Atlanta.