[Diocese of East Tennessee] The Rev. Michelle Warriner Bolt has been named as the Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee by the Right. Rev. Brian L. Cole. Bolt will begin her new work on September 1. The Rev. Canon Michael Spear-Jones has briefly served as Interim Canon, following the departure of the Rev. Canon Pat Grace this past June. Bolt will oversee Transition Ministry, Congregational Development, serve as secretary of the church’s annual convention, and assist Cole in additional oversight of the Church.
“Michelle knows and loves our communities,” Bishop Cole said. “Along with knowledge and love, she brings heart and head to the work of being church in the 21st century. I know her to be both a team player and a proactive leader. As a Church, we are moving into a new season where our focus will be on Reconciling All Things in Christ. That vision of reconciliation, grounded in the first chapter of Colossians, will guide our work in a time when our world, and our Church, is hungry for truth and reconciliation. Michelle is equipped to join in and help lead such work,” he said.
Bolt said, “When Bishop Sanders laid his hands on my head to confirm me as an Episcopalian over 20 years ago, I had no idea where my journey would take me, but I knew that I loved God and I loved East Tennessee.
“Over the years, it became clear that I was called to be a priest working with the people of East Tennessee to identify what God is up to here. In the past few weeks, as I have reflected on the news of the day, it is clear that the world hungers to know and feel God’s reconciling, healing presence, and as the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee, we are poised to uncover and share this Good News as it blossoms throughout our region.”
She said, “Just about one year ago, we gathered to elect a bishop, and I have been delighted to see the Holy Spirit at work among us since that day in Bishop Cole’s daily, faithful relationship-building. I am excited to work as a part of this team, confronting the future’s challenges with clear eyes and hopeful hearts.”
Bolt graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts College Scholars degree before going on to Harvard Divinity School and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary for her masters degrees, M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School and M.Div. from Seabury Western Theological Seminary. After serving churches in Illinois and California, she returned to East Tennessee to serve as chaplain at Tyson House Episcopal/Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and later priest associate at St. John’s Cathedral. Her passion is “for connecting individuals and families to the deep spiritual rhythms and practices of our tradition in a way that is both authentic and fresh.” She lives with her husband Patrick and four sons in Knoxville.
The Episcopal Church in East Tennessee is comprised of 51 Episcopal churches and worshiping communities in 33 counties in Tennessee and one county in North Georgia nestled in the valley between the Cumberland Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains. The area covers approximately 14,350 square miles, with a total population of about 2.5 million. The Rt. Rev. Brian L. Cole is the fifth bishop of East Tennessee.