Rev. Dr. Vannessa Trice-Wallace, Lead Pastor

Vannessa Dale Trice was born to the late Mrs. Vivian Gantt-Trice and the late Mr. Walter Lee Trice. She is the seventh of nine children. With her mother’s passing when she was 14 years old, she was raised by her maternal grandparents and older siblings.  Rev. Vannessa graduated from Englewood High School, in Jacksonville, FL. In 1978 she attended college, graduating from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, FL with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration in 1984. She married Rev. Welbon B. Wallace II in 1988.  Her husband passed away in February 1993. Rev. Vannessa still enjoys her dear son, Welbon Cyrus Wallace.

After college she worked in the Business field for 20 years.  Then she worked in the Education field in Duval County School System as a Substitute Teacher, Paraprofessional, Extended Day Director at an Elementary School, and Social Worker for Middle School students in an After School Program.  The last job was with a replica of the Harlem Children’s Zone in a low-income area in Jacksonville, Florida

Her family has been an important aspect in her life. They have continued to support her growth in God’s word. The Gantt family has always been a very spiritual family while leading a life of service.  She was raised by a family that sets an example of leading a life full of love, service, and God. Therefore, it was not surprising when Rev. Vannessa acknowledged her call to ordained ministry. She has been in the church all her life, from Sunday School student to Church School Teacher, Youth Leader, Pastor’s wife, Missionary President, Area Chairperson of Missionary Society, and Pastor Assistant.

Rev. Vannessa’s call story is much like the story of Jonah in the Bible.  Rev. Vannessa tells it like this:

“I ran for years and had my own agenda.  I thought by being raised in the church from Sunday School, singing in the choir, Youth leader, Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church, marrying a Pastor (Pastor’s wife), Missionary President, Missionary Area Chairperson, and Sunday School Teacher that I had done all the Lord wanted me to do.  Little did I know that I would be called into ministry in service to God’s people.  I say that I relate my call story to Jonah because I ran to Texas with my son who was in the military, but the Lord was there.  Little did I know that the song my grandmother sang, who is now gone to be with the Lord, would ring in my spirit.  She would sing ‘God’s so wide that you can’t go over him, God’s so wide that you can’t go under him, God’s so wide that you can’t go around him, you must come in at the door.’  So, I feel that I have been chosen as Esther said “For such a time as this.”

“My location now as a 2013 graduate of The Interdenominational Theological Center, Turner Seminary in Atlanta, is doing what the Lord has called me to do.  I have learned that through ALL I have been through that the Lord has a plan and purpose for my life.  I did not get here by chance nor on my own, but it was the Lord that has kept me and wants to use me for ‘Such A Time as This.’” 

“The Lord has Blessed me and indeed brought me to this place ‘For Such A Time As This.’”  

Deb Hearn, Minister of Music

Debby Hearn, Minister of Music, always has a ready smile and a happy word. And, she does a wonderful job of overseeing the music of Signal Mountain United Methodist Church (SMUMC), playing the piano, directing the choir, and making people feel welcome.

Debby grew up in Shenandoah Valley, VA where her father was a doctor and her mother was his nurse.  Their clinic was on one side of their home and her grandmother lived on the other with Debby’s school just across the road.  Debby went onto Shenandoah Conservatory of Music where she earned a Bachelor of Music Education and did post graduate studies at James Madison University.

Debby has had a rich life of business and music and a mission of helping others. She had various positions, including sales, realtor with Coldwell Banker, and Convention and Special Events Coorinator for Chattanooga Choo Choo.  Still, music has always been important in her life. Her passions are music and helping people, which have blended nicely for her and everyone around her. She has worked at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church as Program Coordinator, Music Ministry and was Quality of Life Coordinator at Alexian Village.  She has been Minister of Music at SMUMC since 1993. Debby also teaches private piano lessons.

Here are three of Debby’s favorite verses. First, John 15:12-13 leads Jesus’ followers to love others as he has loved. Second, I Corinthians 13 reminds us, “Jesus said, ‘If you see me, you see the father.’ I want Jesus’ love to shine through me. God is my rock. It’s where my heart springs from.” Three, Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” As Debby says, “God is so good and sometimes it’s hard to pick favorites, like hymns. We have so many favorites.”

(Excerpts taken from Mountain Post, January 7, 2008, article by Ruth Robinson.)

Madison Spence, Minister of Youth

Madison is originally from Ringgold, GA, but considers herself a Chattanooga native. She has grown up in the Church and began volunteering in music ministry at the age of 12. Since then, Madison has been involved in various ministries across multiple denominations. Madison graduated from Lee University in 2021 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and Worship. Since 2022, she has been working bi-vocationally as a Case Manager for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and the Director of Youth Ministry at SMUMC. Madison enjoys music and exploring God’s creation. Her mission is to lead the students of SMUMC to love God and love others well.