He also attended Candler School of Theology at Emory University and received a doctorate degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Lexington, Ky.
Peabody continued serving churches in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. He pastored 16 area churches including First United Methodist Church of Marietta and McEachern United Methodist Church in Cobb County. Previously, he served as the district superintendent of the conference and was in charge of 93 churches.
But he biggest reward of his ministry is the congregation.
“What happens is you fall in love with them, and they fall in love with you. I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of really nice folks,” said Peabody, who is married to wife Anne.
The Peabody’s two sons are also involved in the Methodist Church. Joe Jr. is minister at Salem United Methodist Church in Covington. Andrew was vice president of MUST Ministries for 13 years and is currently working on a doctorate degree at Duke University. They have two grandsons.
If people are a great reward in the ministry, leaving them is difficult.
“Unlike other denominations, Methodist ministers are sent by the bishop. I don’t pick and chose. I don’t interview. The local church doesn’t call. We are sent by the bishop,” the Roswell resident said.
Peabody compared the ministry to being a nanny.
“It’s your privilege to love that (church) family and be part of their lives and enjoy them and celebrate with them. But there comes a time when the family moves beyond you and you have to let them go,” Peabody said.
“Moving a lot is hard. My wife, Anne, has survived 13 moves. It’s what I call an arranged divorce. It’s very difficult to leave people behind,” he said.
For Peabody, the biggest challenge of the ministry was nurturing his own spirituality. “The ministry activities are very seductive and will take all the time and energy and intellect and influence you can pour into them. If you don’t take care of your soul you can stay busy in church work forever. You can absolutely lose your soul,” he explained.
Peabody said his son has invited him to be the volunteer assistant at his church. He also looks forward to playing golf with his four retired brothers and possibly writing several books.
“It’s exciting,” Peabody said.
Mt. Zion United Methodist Church is located at 1770 Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta. For more information on the church, visit www.mtzionumc.org or call (770) 971-1465.