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The Rev. Wesley Arning

Priest-in-Charge

Father Wesley was born and raised in Murfreesboro, TN. He then attended Gordon College on the North Shore of Boston where he studied Psychology and Biblical Studies. He spent a semester studying Rabbinic Thought and Literature and Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, and also played four years of college baseball while at Gordon. Wesley then attended Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA and graduated in 2018. He then accepted the call to become Priest-in-Charge of St. James the Less where he has served since June of 2018. Wesley's ministry interests include evangelism, church growth, outreach, and anything that has to do with C.S. Lewis. He writes a weekly blog on a wide range of topics at wesleyarning.com. He currently serves on the Dandridge Trust board and Standing Committee for the Diocese of Tennessee. He enjoys hiking in the National Parks, playing sports, and cheering for his beloved Boston Red Sox. He is married to Megan, and they have a golden retriever named Sadie.

The Rev. Randy Hoover-Dempsey

Assisting Priest

Father Randy and his wife, Kathy, first came to Saint James the Less during Easter of 2017. He had retired as a priest and was looking for a church home. Father Rob Courtney welcomed the Hoover-Dempseys with open arms and invited Randy to help with leading worship and preaching. “It was like coming home,” Randy said. “I had really missed celebrating the Holy Eucharist and Kathy and I really needed a church family. The folks at Saint James were a perfect fit for us. In many ways the church is the perfect size. You can know everyone and everyone is welcomed.”

 

Father Randy has served in the diocese as a layworker and priest since 2005. Much of his work has involved immigrants to the United State, first with the large Sudanese congregation at Saint Bartholomew’s and last with the many Burmese immigrants at All Saints in Smyrna. “My faith in the Lord has been greatly strengthened by seeing the amazing ways that Jesus has been alive in the lives of my brothers and sisters from other countries who have faced amazing hardships,” he says. Randy also served as interim priest at St. Mary Magdalene in Fayetteville. 

 

Randy is a graduate of the University of North Carolina (Political Science and Football, the last 190 pound linebacker ever recruited there) and Middle Tennessee State University (Education). He grew up in the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1977. “I was too hard-headed in my youth, so the Lord chased me to Nashville in 1979. I did carpentry work for a couple of years and then became a teacher.” He taught 4th and 5th grade at University School for twenty years. “I loved teaching and working with children!”

 

Randy and Kathy have three children all of whom are married to wonderful folks and eight grandchildren, ages two to twelve. He is an avid golfer, musician (uke, mandolin), fisherman (bass and trout), woodworker, and reader. He would love to improve his chess game.

Mr. Bob Wiesen

Organist and Choir Director

Bob has loved music since he was able to walk, picking out tunes on toy pianos, harmonicas, and tin flutes.  He would sneak to the music rooms to play tunes on the big pianos at the  Catholic orphanage he grew up in.   At first opportunity to take lessons, he soared through the piano books in a short time and moved right on to the organ. Bob was playing the pipe organ for services at age 13.  He played weekly Masses at the Cathedral in High School and College.  After Military service, Bob moved from Erie to Knoxville in 1973, where he met and married his wife Carolyn. Busy going to school and working he got away from the organ a few years.  A friend asked him to come play the organ for the Sunday service, well his feet didn't forget how to fly on the pedals. Bob has continued to play organ and piano for many years in the Catholic Church.  He has also played for  the Methodist and Lutheran, and finally for the Episcopal! Church. Yey, Episcopal.  He's happiest he has ever been, playing at St James.