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District superintendent’s body found in drowning

A UMNS Report

Rev. Mickey Carpenter

By Cathy Farmer*

April 27, 2008

With a twinkle in his eye, the Rev. Mickey Carpenter often said that he was heading out to do “lake ministry.”

An avid fisherman and the superintendent of the Paris District of The United Methodist Church, Carpenter left for Bush Lake in Carroll County, Tenn., on the morning of April 18 with plans to catch enough fish to host a fish fry for the leadership team of the church’s Memphis Annual (regional) conference.

He never returned.

Carpenter’s body was recovered from the lake on April 26, more than a week after his solo fishing expedition.

The coroner in Carroll County has ruled his death an accidental drowning.

Carpenter and his family had been in the prayers of thousands of people throughout The United Methodist Church and other connections since his boat was found capsized and his lifejacket floating on the water on April 18.

“He was one of the most conscientious superintendents ever to occupy that office.”
–Bishop Dick Wills

Carpenter, 60, was remembered as a beloved family man, pastor and church leader.

“Mickey was first and foremost a loving husband, father and grandfather,” said Bishop Dick Wills of the church’s Memphis Annual (regional) Conference. “He loved the pastors with whom he worked. He was one of the most conscientious superintendents ever to occupy that office.”

He leaves behind his wife, Marsha Dorgan, their two daughters, Megan and Michelle, and one grandchild. Through her grief, his widow thanked everyone for their prayers, love, concern and help.

Funeral arrangements were pending, and the family asked that memorials be made to the Dream Farm Project at Africa University, a United Methodist-related school in Zimbabwe. The project, originated by Marsha Dorgan, an agriculturalist, will serve as a model of sustainable agriculture for impoverished farmers in Africa.

Volunteers from more than six rescue squads joined in the week-long search for Carpenter’s body as local churches and fellow district superintendents provided food and drinks for the search teams.

Throughout the ordeal, Carpenter and his family had been held up in prayers ranging from friends in Zimbabwe to the United Methodist Council of Bishops during its sessions at General Conference, the church’s top legislative gathering, meeting through May 2 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wills, in Fort Worth before returning to West Tennessee on April 26 to be with the Carpenter family, had reported on the district superintendent’s disappearance to his colleagues on the Council of Bishops, which is made up of the denomination’s top clergy leaders. The entire council offered prayers.

Memorials to the Africa University Dream Farm may be sent to James Finger, Memphis Conference Treasurer, 24 Corporate Blvd., Jackson, TN 38305-2315.

*Farmer is communications director for the Memphis Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

News media contact: Marta Aldrich, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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