Alpharetta pastor skilled in healing differences gets higher role

Credit: Photo courtesy Michael T. McQueen

Credit: Photo courtesy Michael T. McQueen

An Alpharetta pastor known for helping people to find common ground on race and politics is leaving his congregation to advise church leaders in Fulton and Clayton counties.

Rev. Dr. Michael T. McQueen is leaving his role as senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church for a new position with the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. He was appointed superintendent of the central north district and will advise pastors at 73 churches. The Conference, headquartered in Atlanta, is a regional body of The United Methodist Church.

June marked 14 years for McQueen at St. James. His next chapter as a faith leader officially begins Sept. 1, he said.

Alpharetta City Council honored McQueen with a proclamation during a Monday meeting. Former Mayor David Belle Isle attended, as well as McQueen’s wife Wanda.

Mayor Jim Gilvin said McQueen had been a mentor to him and thanked him for challenging city leaders and residents to come to new understandings on race and politics.

“We will just have to live with the fact that we are sharing you with a larger area,” Gilvin said. “Thank you for your mentorship.”

McQueen is a Philadelphia native and describes himself as an agitator who challenges others to be inclusive and find a place of understanding with people from different backgrounds. When a Johns Creek police chief made negative comments in June about the motives of the Black Lives Matter movement, McQueen said, “(The chief’s) job is not to go on hearsay but to investigate the truth. Black Lives Matter is not about killing police officers.”

McQueen has talked to white clergy troubled by the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota and held vigils at St. James for other high-profile deaths across the country.

“I will always challenge you on the side of truth and right,” McQueen said Monday.

During the proclamation ceremony, he asked Gilvin to bridge gaps during a time of the Black Lives Matter movement, the pandemic and economic hardships.

“We can talk,” McQueen said referring to people with different points of view. “We don’t always have to agree. We can reason together and we can go to the common bond.”