Bevins remembered for work at all levels of UMC

David Burke


Throughout his ministry, Rev. Dr. Rex Bevins contributed on the local, conference and denominational levels of The United Methodist Church.

Bevins, who died on Good Friday at age 90, spent 22 years of his ministry as senior pastor at Lincoln Saint Paul UMC from 1980 to 2002, after six years as executive director for ministries in the former Nebraska Conference.

In the denomination, he served on the General Board of Global Ministries, the General Board of Discipleship, the World Methodist Council, Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church.

Rev. Dr. Rex Bevins died on Good Friday at age 90.

“It was something he sought after,” said the Rev. David Lux, who served as associate pastor for six years under Bevins at Saint Paul before succeeding him as senior pastor for an additional 16 years.

“He really was giving not only to the local church but the worldwide church,” Lux said. “He had many friends in other countries and worked with churches in Latin America as well.”

Bevins “loved church politics,” Lux said, and through his work in a “northern coalition” of conferences in the South Central Jurisdiction – which stretches from Nebraska to Texas, plus New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana – to get the first Nebraskan, Bishop Kenneth Hicks, elected to the episcopacy.

At Saint Paul, Bevins led a strategic planning process that began in 1992, according to the church website, that led to both a new, 57,000-square foot addition to the church for education, office and recreation spaces as well as a remodeling of the sanctuary.

“The church had a whole new look,” Lux said. “From the outside it looked like it all had been intended to be together. The new brick matched the old brick. From downtown Lincoln it was very favorable throughout the community.”

During Bevins’ time in the former Nebraska Conference, Lux said, a management by objectives element was added.

Bevins wanted to have an impact on the worldwide as well as the local church, Lux said.

“He was concerned about social justice and was good at taking on and mentoring younger clergy,” he said.

Away from church, Lux said, Bevins was “very competitive and very athletic.”

“He played basketball well into his 80s with a group that would get together at Saint Paul church over the noon hour,” Lux said, adding that Bevins also played softball for many years.

A Cedar Rapids, Nebraska, native born on May 5, 1932, Bevins graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1955, after working as a student pastor at Otoe St. Paul Methodist Church. While in seminary in the late ’50s, he served Hamilton Methodist in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco before serving a church in San Carlos, California.

He and his wife, Ardis — who were married while attending Nebraska Wesleyan — moved back to Nebraska in 1969, where he served as pastor at Lincoln Warren UMC before being named to the conference position. She preceded him in death in 2012. He is survived by three children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Online condolences praised Bevins for his ministries:

  • “Rex gave my ministry a giant leap first as associate minister at St. Paul Church and later as director of communication for the Nebraska UM Conference,” wrote Rev. Dr. Dan Gangler, who was elected in 2019 to the United Methodist Association of Communicators Hall of Fame. “His legacy is important to the United Methodists of Nebraska and the South Central Jurisdiction of the UMC.”
  • “Rex was a mentor in one of my exposure units at Saint Paul School of Theology and our work intersected frequently over the years,” wrote Rev. Larry Hollon, former general secretary of United Methodist Communications. “His influence for a more compassionate and forward-looking church is a valuable legacy that is to be honored and cherished.”
  • “I had the most fantastic opportunity to learn from Rex when he chaired the Nebraska Conference Council on Ministry, and I was secretary for eight years,” wrote Deanna Holland, active in the conference United Women in Faith and a member of Beatrice Centenary UMC. “He was a mentor and teacher to me, and I am grateful.”

Rev. Sherry Sklenar first met Bevins when she was a pastor at St. Edward, Nebraska, in the late 1980s, serving a merged United Methodist-Presbyterian church. The combined churches agreed to build a new building that was “ours,” she said, and Bevins — along with Rev. Dr. Denny Silk, an Omaha pastor at the time — worked with her to obtain a $10,000 grant from the General Board of Global Ministries.

“For me, he was a role model,” she said. “He had vision and helped give me guidance during that building process. He had been through projects like that and was a mentor for me — an encourager and a supporter.”

She also counts him as a “dear friend.”

“He reached out to me after my husband died and was very pastoral,” Sklenar said. “Some colleagues send a card and that kind of thing, but he stuck with me through my grieving process.

“They don’t make them like that anymore.”

Contact David Burke, content specialist, at

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