The Rev. Wesley Arning
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 and then Rector 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 is currently the Ecumenical Officer for the Diocese of Tennessee and is a member of the Standing Committee for the diocese as well. 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
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.
The Rev. John Smith
Father John and wife Terri moved to Madison in October 2019 after serving four years post-retirement in Antigua, Guatemala as Vicar of St. Alban Episcopal Mission. Feeling so welcomed by the people of St. James and Fr. Wesley and Randy, Fr. John, and Terri sensed God guiding them here.
Fr. John was ordained in Rome in 1975 and, prior to St. James the Less, has served six congregations, the longest tenure being at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church and School in Tucson, Arizona for over 20 years from 1995 to 2015.
Fr. John has earned degrees in Philosophy and Theology, with post-grad work in Biblical Theology. He has taught classes in Greek and Hebrew to seminarians and laypeople alike and enjoys learning languages and travel.
“Terri and I have downsized and simplified our lives greatly. We like to travel to family in Washington, Arizona, and Wisconsin where our children reside. We also have family close by in Inglewood.” Fr. John is a member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and a member of Rotary. He is also an amateur radio operator and, has a private pilot's license. Terri worked in the medical field for many years including as a Para-Medic. “I am always happy to have Terri close by!”
Madeline Mayo, "Maddie", was born in Nashville, TN and spent most of her life in Cookeville, TN. She graduated from Cookeville High School in 2016 and is currently enrolled in Vols State Community College pursuing a PTA degree. Spending time with family is something she values and cherishes most in her life. She also enjoys being active outside, reading and writing. Being at St. James has positively impacted her life through learning the importance of a church family and being involved in the community.