Our Pastors


In the United Methodist Church, pastors are sent from the Annual Conference with which the local church is affiliated. Pearisburg has been in the Holston Annual Conference since the 19th century. Pastors are appointed annually by the bishop of the Holston Annual Conference, and may serve any number of years, as the needs of the local church, the annual conference, and the pastor are taken into consideration. Since the Pearisburg First United Methodist Church is over 200 years old, there have been numerous pastors assigned here in our history. We honor the service and dedication of each one, and will list here those who have served since the opening of our present building in 1966.

Brian Burch 2012-present

Brian Burch came to Pearisburg from Rural Retreat, where he served two churches for 8 years. The previous 16 years he served in Holston Churches in Georgia and Tennessee. Brian loves seeing the church come alive. DeAnne and he have celebrated over thirty years of marriage. Their three grown sons have all completed college and live further from home than mom likes. Brian’s primary hobby is fish. He has a 2,000-gallon Koi pond at the parsonage and a 110-gallon salt-water aquarium at the office.


Bradley H. Scott 2008-2012

Brad Scott came to Pearisburg from Jonesborough, Tn. He is well remembered as an exception Bible Study teacher, musician and historian. Prior to that pastorate, he had served in Jonesville, Va., North Tazewell, Va., and Belfast, Va. Brad is married to Tammie, and together they are raising Corion Cornette. Brad is a native of Scott County, Virginia. He and Tammie celebrated 20 years of marriage just before their departure from our church.


Randolph R. “Ronnie” Mutter 2006-2008

Ronnie retired from active ministry shortly before being assigned to Pearisburg. He and his wife Patsy came out of retirement to serve Christ. They brought their grandson Dru Kerr with them. Ronnie served here for two years and loved to greet the congregation with the words “Good morning saints! Good morning sinners!” Under Ronnie’s leadership the Preschool was invited to operate at the church. After returning to their home in Big Stone Gap, Ronnie took a two-point charge in the Lafollette, TN area. In 2019, his beloved Patsy died.


Dale S. Wyrick 2005-2006

Dale retires from ministry in June 2020. He only spent one of his over 40 years of pastoring here in Pearisburg, He served twelve years in Spring City, TN where he his retirement home is. Dale’s ministry has been blessed by his multiple trips to the Holy Land.


W. Anthony Collins 2003-2005

Tony during his time here saw the completion of the major facelift for the church. He and his wife Susan currently live in Hixson, TN where he serves as senior pastor for Burks UMC. Tony’s other appointments include churches in Rural Retreat, Radford, Lebanon and Bristol in Virginia, and Gatlinburg and Knoxville in Tennessee. At Annual Conference you can find Tony in the back where he has a long history as serving as the Head Teller.


Charles W. Lockerby 1998-2003 Associate: Fred L. Austin 1998-2004

Charles Lockerby had served the Abingdon District as Superintendent prior to coming to Pearisburg in 1998. Charles led the congregation in a visioning process, culminating in several capital improvements, including placing an elevator in the educational wing. After leaving Pearisburg, Charles served Central in Radford. He retired in 2006 and now lives in Vinton, Va. Under his leadership Fred Austin was hired as associate minister.


Frederick Long 1994-1998 Associate: Judith Walker Long 1995-1998

The Longs now live in Tennessee after retiring in 2008. Judith Anna was the first female minister in Pearisburg’s history, and the first Associate Pastor as well. After leaving Pearisburg, the couple served Colonial Heights in Kingsport, Tn., and Newport First UMC, in Newport, TN.


Robert Warren Stewart 1990-1994

Now retired and living in Mountain, City, Tn., Warren has also served as pastor in Richlands, Weber City, Norton, and Radford in Virginia, and Mountain City, Chattanooga, and Bluff City in Tennessee.


John Wesley Wikle 1987-1990

John Wesley Wikle retired after serving First Pearisburg and moved to the Townsend, TN. He began preaching at age 12 while in Wise, Virginia. After college and seminary, he married (Wanda) and continued to serve his Lord throughout East Tennessee. John died on July 18, 1997 while serving as a retired pastor of Campground Church in Townsend, TN.

Robert A. Hayes 1982-1987

Bob came to be pastor here in 1982. He was a great lover of the natural beauty of the area, and enjoyed hiking Angel’s Rest and the Cascades. Occasionally during his pastorate, the congregation was able to enjoy his musical skills as he was an accomplished organist. He retired from active ministry and now lives in Maryville, TN. He still hikes more miles than most preachers and brings the joy of Christ with him everywhere he goes.


Fred L. Austin 1973-1982

Fred’s nine years of ministry were marked with several legacies to our church. In addition to starting the Men’s Prayer Breakfast in 1975, it was also under his leadership that the fellowship hall, office complex, and bell tower were constructed. Fred continued to be used by the Lord in other churches. His last six years of full-time ministry were spent as Superintendent of the Wytheville District. Fred and Vivian moved back to Pearisburg to be near their family.


Roger E. Hilton 1971-1973

Roger came to Pearisburg not long after active service as a US Marine. He later served Colonial Heights in Kingsport, TN, and was on the Cabinet of the Annual Conference. He lives in Maryville, TN. Educated at Duke Divinity School, his service included Broad Street in Kingsport Tennessee, Lookout Mtn in Chattanooga, and Alcoa Tennessee before transferring to Bluefield First (VA). After service here, Roger was pastor at State Street in Bristol, Colonial Heights in Kingsport, and First UMC Morristown, TN. He retired in 1993.


John W. Duck, Jr. 1968-1971

John quit school during the Great Depression at age 14 to help his family. At the age of 21, he felt the call to preach at a church altar and returned to High School. He began serving in 1948 alongside his wife, Joyce. Until his death in 1978 he continued a pastor using as his guide: “To love someone more dearly every day, to guide a wandering child upon his way, to ponder o’er a noble thought, and pray, and smile when evening comes, this is my task.”


James E. Hankins 1961-1968

Jim began his ministry in 1940 as a student. He was deeply dedicated to small membership churches in town and country areas. Jim was involved in national organizations that served the rural church, writing, editing, and organizing the work in rural settings. He was named Rural Minister of the Year in Tennessee in 1958. His eight years of ministry here in Pearisburg are remembered for his assistance in starting the Lord’s Acre program and leading the church through their relocation from Main Street to our current site on the corner of Hale St. and Valleyview. His two daughters still return to many Red Devil High school reunions.

  April 2021  
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