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New Leadership: Covington Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

COVINGTON, Ga. - Joshua H. Kirkham, a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, accepted a call to serve on March 5 as the Covington Ward Bishop following the release of Bishop Dean Miessner.

A Midwest native, Kirkham graduated with a degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration and Urban Forestry from Western Illinois University. Kirkham is employed by the Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America as the Safe Scouting and Operations Director.

Prior to that position he worked as a BSA Ranger for 15 years in central Wisconsin and at Bert Adams Scout Camp, located south of Covington. He and his wife Amanda have four children: Harrison, Justine, Josephine and Jenevieve. In his down time, Bishop Kirkham enjoys hunting, spending time with his family and exercising.

Bishop Kirkham will preside over the Latter-day Saint congregation in the Covington area. His new responsibilities are similar to those of a pastor or priest, and he will care for the spiritual and physical well-being of the members of his congregation while helping them follow the example of Jesus Christ. Bishop Kirkham will serve the ward with assistance from his two counselors, Gary Christian and Tim Mallery. Like many Latter-Day-Saint leaders, Bishop Kirkham and his counselors volunteer their time and service without compensation.

When asked about his new calling, Bishop Kirkham said, “I am humbled and honored by the faith of all of the members in the Covington Ward.  I know that with the help of our Heavenly Father and these good people that we will be able to accomplish great things in Newton County.”

Gary Christian will serve as First Counselor to Bishop Kirkham.  Christian is an Atlanta native, having been raised in South Atlanta, in the Lakewood Heights area.  Christian and his wife Denise have been married for 44 years, and have lived in Covington for 43 of those years. The Christians have six children. 

Christian retired from General Motors after 32 years of assembly line work.  He began his career at the Lakeland plant and finished at the Doraville plant.  Currently, he works part-time at the Bert Adams Scout Camp as a member of the Ranger staff.  In his spare time, Christian enjoys working in the yard and relaxing.  He enjoys hiking and camping as well, but doesn’t get to go as often as he’d like.

Christian has a history of church service, most recently as Stake Executive Secretary.  This position has prepared him well for the organizational aspects of helping to lead a congregation, as he has worked closely with others in church leadership positions.

When asked about his new calling, Christian said, “I look forward to a great opportunity to move [the Gospel] forward in this area.”

Tim Mallery will serve as the Second Counselor to Bishop Kirkham.  Professionally, Mallery honorably served in the United States Navy.  After seven years of active service, Mallery spent two more years in the Reserve.  He also served in the Georgia National Guard for about six years.  Mallery holds an Associates Degree in Computer Science.

Mallery and his wife, Debbie Bell Mallery, are also long-time Covington residents.  Mallery has actively served in many church capacities.  Most recently, he taught an adult Sunday School class, and has experience leading the men (or brethren) in the High Priests group, the brethren in the Elders Quorum, and leading the young men in the ward.  As Second Counselor, Mallery’s responsibilities will include working with the Sunday School organization, the children’s Primary organization, and the Young Women’s organization.  His shared his thoughts about the new calling, “I’m just really excited to move forward with faith in Jesus Christ, for me and the ward.”  In regard to working with Bishop Kirkham, Mallery offered, “I [have] had a strong personal witness that he is called of God to be bishop at this time.”

Former Bishop Dean Miessner may not be leading the congregation any longer, but he has received a new service opportunity.  He will now be working with the larger stake congregation in Conyers as an executive secretary to the stake president.  Regarding the change in leadership, he offered, “I know that Bishop Kirkham was called by God to lead our congregation at this time. He is a great man and he will do great things for the Covington Ward. I am excited about this transition. Bishop Kirkham and his counselors and family have my full support."