Rector – The Rev. John Mark Wiggers
The Rev. John Mark Wiggers moved to Knoxville in September 2009 to become the fifth rector of St. James. He hails from Brewton, Ala., where he grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition. He is a graduate of Baylor University and The General Theological Seminary. After seminary, John Mark served as Curate at The Church of the Nativity in Dothan, Ala., and as the Canon for Education at The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta.
John Mark and his wife, Liz met at an Adults Who Work with Youth Conference at Kanuga Camp and Conference Center. They have two boys — Jack, a rising college freshman, and Elliott, a rising sixth grader — as well as two dogs and some fish. His family appreciates and participates in his love of grilling. The rector also enjoys reading, music, and anything coffee related. His favorite books are Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore, and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Lately he is listening to the music of M. Ward, The Avett Brothers, and The Tallest Man on Earth. He is a fan of all Coen brothers’ movies. Several years ago he was given the moniker “Father Dude” in response to his great appreciation of the movie The Big Lebowski. He would love to be more musical, so occasionally he drums and also strums the ukulele.
John Mark sees his own ministry influenced by the story of the feeding of the 5,000 in the Gospel of Mark. When the disciples asked Jesus to send the people away so they could find food, Jesus says: “You feed them.” (Mark 6:37).
Of this direction from Jesus, Fr. John Mark says “This is a call for all of us to use what we have in following Christ. If we see the needs of others we are to seek to meet those with the power and love of God. I am glad to be a part of St. James where we tend and feed God’s sheep.”
Associate Rector – Rev RJ Powell
The Rev. RJ Powell has served as the associate at St. James, Knoxville since May 2015 and as the Episcopal co-chaplain at Tyson House Episcopal-Lutheran Student Fellowship at UT Knoxville since January 2016. Originally from the Richmond, VA area, Fr. RJ grew up in the Christian Church/Church of Christ tradition and was heavily involved in campus ministry while attending undergrad at James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley. In 2003, RJ moved to Johnson City, TN and lived there for over a decade where he attended seminary at Emmanuel Christian Seminary, worked with international students at East Tennessee State University, and was a member of St. John’s Church before completing his training for ordination at Sewanee.
He met his husband, Michaelangelo, in 2013, in Asheville, NC, and they were civilly married shortly before moving to Knoxville. Bishop George Young blessed their marriage at St. James in 2016. Michaelangelo, originally from Nicaragua, works as a skilled tradesman as a Finish Carpenter.
Fr. RJ assists Fr. John Mark in many capacities including regular preaching, worship leading and pastoral care. He has served the diocese in a number of capacities including as a current member of the Standing Committee, the Becoming Beloved Community Anti-racism taskforce, and formerly as a member of the Disciplinary Board, as a member of the Bishop Search and Transition Committees for our Fifth Bishop, and as a Clergy Deputy to the General Convention in Austin, TX in 2018.
Fr. RJ believes that, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must devoted to realizing and offering what theologian Miroslav Volf calls “a compelling vision of a way of life worth living,” which is a life fervent in doing justice in our neighborhoods and city, loving mercy for our neighbors in the many ways they come to us and we can go to them, and by walking humbly with our God as a community of sisters and brothers in Christ.
RJ enjoys sharing life with his husband, cooking for (and eating with) with friends, books, singing with the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus, and spoiling their three dogs.