Denise Honeycutt, Deputy General Secretary of UMCOR
The Rev. Dr. J. Denise Honeycutt is deputy general secretary of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). A pastor from Virginia and former Global Ministries missionary, she has a background in the local church, global mission, and theological education.
UMCOR is a major Protestant disaster relief and development organization and part of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. It operates internationally, both directly and through and with partner organizations. In the United States, its efforts are coordinated through United Methodist annual conference disaster-response networks.
A number of years after being ordained, Honeycutt and her husband, the Rev. Pat Watkins, were appointed to serve as missionaries in a remote village in Bambur, Nigeria, where Honeycutt taught Biblical studies and theology at Banyam Theological Seminary. Recalling their service as the “hardest best years of our lives,” Honeycutt says that as the only missionaries in the immediate area, they were able to truly become part of the community.
After training one of the local seminary students to replace her position in Nigeria, Honeycutt and Watkins returned to the US. She served as a mission interpreter in residence for the Southeastern Jurisdiction and later as the director of mission and global justice for the Virginia Annual Conference.
Before coming to UMCOR in the fall of 2013, Honeycutt served as senior pastor of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Fairfax, VA.
The granddaughter and great granddaughter of Baptist pastors in North Carolina, Honeycutt first felt called to mission at nine years old. She made a covenant that if God “kept the joy and excitement for ministry alive in me, then I would take that as a sign that God wanted me to continue working for God’s mission, grounded in Christ, lived out in relationships.” And she noted, “Joy has been a constant companion in my ministry.”
After receiving a bachelor of arts in religion and education from Campbell University in North Carolina, Honeycutt studied at the University of Wales in Cardiff, where she earned a bachelor of divinity and for the first time met a woman pastor.
While she had been ordained in the Baptist Church, there was no place for her to serve as a pastor, and she felt “theologically called to a new church home.” It was through her experience as a hospital chaplain at Duke University Medical Center that she began to immerse herself in The United Methodist Church.
Honeycutt was ordained as a United Methodist deacon in 1989 and an elder in 1991 in the Virginia Annual Conference. In 2007, she received a doctor of ministries from Wesley Seminary. Her dissertation focused on “Transformational Mission, Biblical Hospitality, and the Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina.