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.