Adrienne Kelly Carr

  •  Adrienne Kelly Carr

Born in Mineola, NY on May 22, 1932

Departed on November 13, 2021 and resided in Atlanta, GA

We celebrate the life of Adrienne Kelly Carr, who passed away November 13. Born in 1932, she grew up around Morristown, New Jersey, developing a love for horses and travel adventures with her parents. A graduate of Smith College, Adrienne (Ad to most who knew her), decided to attend Union Theological Seminary and Teachers College of Columbia University, receiving a joint degree in religious education in 1956. It was at her first job, as a director of children’s ministry in Denver, that she met her future husband, another minister, John, on a blind date. After a whirlwind, cross country courtship, they were married in 1959 and became “John and Ad,” two names that were as inseparable as they were. Together they launched new churches in Cleveland, Ohio and then Indianapolis, Indiana. It was at the Church of the Savior United Methodist Church in Indianapolis that they fully developed a vision for an educated and active laity that was ‘the church’ far more than any building. Over the years, Ad, along with John, developed new forms of adult education that led church members to actively engage with each other, the Biblical text, and the world. They eventually published nine educational programs, such as “The Experiment in Practical Christianity” and “Power and Light,” that were used across the globe.

Adrienne also had a special passion for empowering women in the church. She created a novel women’s group in Indianapolis, called “The Harried Housewives,” to encourage women to step out of their traditional roles and to use their voices in the congregation and at home. Many of those women stayed in contact with Adrienne for the rest of her life. That message was central throughout her career as a Christian educator at Church of the Savior in Indianapolis, First Community Church in Columbus Ohio, and finally as the first female member of the faculty at Candler School of Theology, where she taught until she and John retired in 1998. Adrienne spent many happy retirement years alongside John traveling the world and spending time at their beloved Mountain House, riding horses, reading on the porch and hosting literally hundreds of guests. Hospitality was one of her greatest joys. Ad loved sharing the joy of horseback riding and taught countless guests and all nine grandchildren how to ride. She continued to canter through the North Georgia Mountains into her 80s.

Above all, though, Adrienne was about helping people. She didn’t have to know someone well to want to gallop to the rescue. Whether it was helping people move their kitchens, plan a trip, folding laundry or bending institutions to her will, the stories of her crusades are the stuff of legend. Even after dementia robbed her of much of her speech, one of the last phrases she could consistently say was “how can I help?”

Adrienne is survived by her sons David, Bob and Mark, their spouses, nine grandchildren and even a couple of great grandchildren. We will celebrate Adrienne’s life at a service December 11th at 3:30 PM at Neighborhood Church, 1561 McLendon Ave. NE Atlanta, GA 30307. Never a fan of somber colors, Adrienne would approve of any brightly colored touches to attendees’ attire.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts to Candler School of Theology at Emory University, or any group that actively promotes social justice, particularly for women.


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Guestbook Entries

  1. Verhoye Brigitte November 26, 2021 at 7:43 am - Reply

    I would have loved being with her in the beloved mountain house and ride on a horseback.

  2. Marilyn Nerem November 27, 2021 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Marilyn Nerem Nov. 27, 2021

    Ad was my mentor and friend for nearly 50 years. Ad and John were our pastors at First Community church in Columbus, Ohio. As a “Harried Housewives” learner, i still practice the practical education received from Ad.
    “Never cook a receipe with more than 5 ingredients; never spend more than 30 minutes preparing a meal.” Use your gifts from God to help others……and many more. Ad and John added so much to my life and to my late husband’s. Bob and I cherished each of them. We are honored and proud to know all three Carr boys and I consider them to be the very best care givers ever. We live at Park Springs because of John and Ad. The spirits of Ad and John will guide and mentor me always.

  3. Barbara Ireland November 27, 2021 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    I’ve just learned of Adrienne’s passing and feelings are welling up as I think of her. I met her in August 1966 when I moved to Indianapolis across the street from the Carrs and Ad invited me to attend Harried Housewives at Church of The Saviour. It was a crucial time for me and she invited me into her life as well. Her acceptance, encouragement and “speaking the truth in love” helped me begin to see issues from childhood and allow myself to begin to feel emotions I had kept hidden for years. She was my friend, my mentor, my Godmother! Her example and wisdom inspired me to heal and grow; She lived each day intentionally, “loving others into being.”

    I was a benefactor of the Carr’s overflowing hospitality over these many years. I owe my life to Adrienne: she is a part of me.

  4. Penny Oakes November 28, 2021 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    I was a Harried Housewife at First Community Church in Columbus. There isn’t room to write what that experience meant to me then or later in my life. Thank you Ad. To think of of the joy this vibrant woman brought to so many of our lives. She will certainly live on in my thoughts with much love and gratitude.

    Penny Oakes,
    Boise, Idaho

  5. Peggy Johnson December 5, 2021 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Ad and John’s course, “An Experiment in Practical Christianity” changed my life. I arrived in Columbus from Colorado as a recently-divorced single mother with four children about the same time that Ad and John began their ministry here. They quickly organized a group of new arrivals to meet at their home for at least 12 weeks as we tried out this course that they had recently written. We learned a lot, had fun, became an extended family, and then we all joined the church together. Ad and John not only taught us how to “love our neighbor” but demonstrated it time after time. Ad was one of a kind and she is missed!

  6. nancy devereaux April 29, 2022 at 11:45 am - Reply

    I have just learned that Ad died in November.I felt my husband and I were lucky to meet John and Ad later in our lives and then had the good fortune to travel with them on a memorable trip to India. We were also fortunate enough to be their guests in the Georgia mountains where they were superb hosts. On one of their trips to Boston we got to meet some of their family, too.
    Ad was a remarkable woman and I feel privileged that we knew her. I send belated condolences to John and her sons.

    Nancy Devereaux

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