In Pursuit of Excellence: Mississippi Pastor Completes Candler Course of Study Program

Published On: April 13, 2017

To say that Rev. Kathy Price is dedicated and hardworking is an understatement. Kathy invests in continuing education to further her knowledge and reach within her ministry. In 2008, Kathy entered the Course of Study (COS) program at Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. During her time in the COS program, Kathy also earned her bachelor’s degree through classes at Meridian Community College and online classes at Colorado Christian University.

“I strive to accomplish excellence in all I do. I want my work ethic and attitude toward my call to always be at the level of excellence God has in place for us,” Kathy said. “I study to show approved.”

Kathy’s pursuit of excellence is demonstrated in the straight A’s she has produced since entering Candler’s COS. “I didn’t always believe that I was able or smart enough to take on continuing my education, so this is truly a great accomplishment for me.”

She describes her time in the COS program as a challenge but extremely rewarding. “The time studying and learning gave me time away from work to center and refocus – it helped me hone my minister mojo,” Kathy said. “With my eyes wide open, the program helped me to see that the world is bigger than Mississippi. I want to be a part of something bigger than me.”

Kathy uses what she learned to fuel her work as lead pastor at Alta Woods United Methodist Church, a mission driven church in Jackson, Mississippi. Alta Woods, on the south side of Jackson, has remained a steadfast resource for the word of God, as well as a place for support to meet the growing needs of the community. The church is home to a large homeless ministry, food pantry and thrift shop. As a part of its homeless ministry, Alta Woods hosts Gravy & Grace, a weekly breakfast and worship service.

“We eat, worship and I preach, and we have Sunday School,” Kathy explains. “Our members and staff give of their time to support the efforts of each program at the church. At Alta Woods, it is all about how we can meet the needs of the people. We try to offer people a hand up, not just a handout,” Kathy explained.

Growing up as a Navy kid, Kathy feels called to urban ministry. “I love the city. I always have. My father’s assignments gave us an opportunity to travel and experience many different people and cultures. In urban areas, I can interact with many different types of people.”

Kathy began her journey to ministry as a lay speaker within the church and has gone through every step in the process before moving into a pastor role. Prior to her assignment at Alta Woods UMC, she served for three years in Meridian, Mississippi. Working within a predominantly black church, Kathy had an opportunity to experience cross-cultural leadership, which she feels helped her to grow further within her ministry and service.

Managing her work as a lead pastor, completing the COS program and earning a bachelor’s degree at the same time is a daunting task. However, Kathy accomplished all of this while also supporting her husband, Don, in his battle with cancer for more than a decade. Although his illness could have slowed her down, Kathy graduated the COS program within the allotted five-year term.

“He pushed me to continue,” Kathy said. “One of our last conversations before he passed in 2015 was for me to continue my work in the advanced Course of Study.”

Now enrolled in advanced classes, Kathy is expected to complete Candler’s Advanced COS program in July 2018.

For those thinking of entering a COS program, Kathy advises, “If you take the program and your studies seriously, with real participation and excellence, you will be successful. The program is an opportunity to let God grow you. We have a responsibility to the theology of our church. Theology that drives our practical work day-to-day. What they taught me at Candler is still impacting my work and my perspective today. If I can do it, you can also.”

To learn more about the COS program, visit

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to lead and connect the educational and ministerial life of the church. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

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