Bishop announces 2 new DSes, some district supervisory changes
Two new district superintendents have been appointed in the Great Plains Conference to fill the roles of three retiring DSes and another DS who has completed an eight-year term on the cabinet. The appointments also continue progress toward a conference-wide goal to fully live into a system of networks and base communities for contextual ministries.
The Rev. Jenny Collins, currently serving at First United Methodist Church in Abilene, Kansas, and the Rev. Dr. Tom Brady, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Lawrence, will join the cabinet when the appointive year begins July 1.
“Jenny has had several effective ministry experiences that include competent local church ministry, service as a conference registrar, and as a member of district and conference committees on ordained ministry,” Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. said in announcing the appointments. “She provides mentorship to new pastors and she is committed to seeking the welfare of the communities where she has served. Jenny is well-respected in the conference as an effective clergy leader that is discerning, reflective, collaborative, strategic, and non-anxious, much needed qualities for such a time as this in the life of the denomination.
“I appointed Tom because of his knowledge and familiarity with the eastern and southeastern Kansas contexts, issues, and culture,” the bishop continued. “Tom is a well-respected clergy leader who is passionate, creative, and practical in ministry. He is relational, creates trusts, and he will empower lay-clergy partnerships that will collaborate to address the missional challenges and opportunities in the Five Rivers and Parsons districts.”
The appointments come in conjunction with some shifts in supervisory and strategic oversight of districts. The Revs. Claudia Bakely, Dennis Livingston and David Watson all are retiring effective June 30, and the Rev. Kay Scarbrough is completing her eight-year term on the cabinet. Between those four, more than 100 years of ministry experience — and more than 28 years of cabinet experience — will be stepping away from the group.
In response, Bishop Saenz announced a change in district supervisory responsibilities. Collins will serve the Topeka and Flint Hills districts. Brady will serve the Five Rivers and Parsons districts. In one other change, the Lawrence network of churches will shift from the Five Rivers District to the Kansas City District. Nebraska districts remain unchanged.
The full list of districts and the superintendents assigned to them are below.
- Rev. Cindy Karges: Great West and Gateway districts.
- Rev. Lance Clay: Elkhorn Valley and Prairie Rivers districts.
- Rev. Nancy Tomlinson: Blue River and Elkhorn Valley districts.
- Rev. Chad Anglemyer: Elkhorn Valley and Missouri River districts.
- Rev. Don Hasty: Dodge City and Hays districts.
- Rev. Dee Williamston: Hutchinson and Salina districts.
- Rev. Dr. Mitch Reece (Cabinet Dean): Wichita East and West districts.
- Rev. Jennie Collins: Flint Hills and Topeka districts.
- Rev. Tom Brady: Five Rivers and Parsons districts.
- Rev. Anne Gatobu: Kansas City District and Lawrence-network churches.
“The shift in missional strategy development and implementation for initiatives from the conference to the districts and the networks within them enables our 10 district superintendents to function as missional strategists and supports their ability to effectively supervise the spiritual and temporal life of our clergy, laity, and congregations in our 17 existing districts,” Bishop Saenz said. “The superintendents will encourage the building of clergy covenant groups to nurture perpetual learning, mutual support, and spiritual care among clergy while also enhancing collaborative and fruitful ministry and mission by engaging and empowering our hard-working laity.”
Bishop Saenz said adding Collins and Brady to the cabinet will help achieve those goals.
“Jenny’s and Tom’s ministry experience, gifts, and graces will make them exceptional colleagues that will complement and strengthen the existing Great Plains cabinet,” the bishop said. “I have the utmost confidence they will serve as well-suited and skilled representatives of the office of the bishop as they oversee and give shape to the total ministry of clergy and of the churches in the communities of the district in their missions of witness and service in the world.”
Collins and Brady both said they were excited to serve in this new capacity.
“My main goal is to help the churches in the Flint Hills and Topeka districts walk through any changes that may occur at General Conference 2020,” Collins said. “I want to be a non-anxious presence in a time of potentially high anxiety to help pastors and churches navigate an unknown future.”
Collins is part of a clergy couple with the Rev. John Collins. She served churches in Coffeyville, Seneca, Centralia, Corning, Vermillion, Devon and Mapleton before co-pastoring at Abilene First UMC with her spouse. She earned her master’s of divinity degree from Saint Paul School of Theology, and she earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Kansas State University.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work with churches to find creative ways to be the church in their particular setting in this liminal season in our denomination,” Collins said.
She said she was humbled and honored to receive this appointment from the bishop — and maybe a little nervous.
“I plan to learn all I can from other district superintendents about what I need to do early on to get to know the churches and pastors in the districts I serve,” Collins said. “I already have started having such discussions, and they will continue over the next few months.”
Brady echoed that sentiment, noting that he will develop a plan to get to know the pastors and church leaders in both of his districts. He also acknowledged that the recently announced Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation provides for a hopeful future but comes with challenges associated with change.
“This is a time of great change in our world, our country, and our denomination,” Brady said. “Change is often accompanied with pain, loss and grief. The ‘Protocol’ that is unfolding will create questions and challenges. There will be lots of conversations and important decisions made in the months ahead, and I want to be a helpful resource in this process and do what I can to help the United Methodist Church remain strong.”
Prior to being appointed to Lawrence First UMC in 2006, Brady served churches in Overland Park, Burlington and Americus in Kansas. He served as a youth director in Denver and established the campus ministry program at Emporia State University. He earned his doctorate of divinity in evangelism at Perkins School of Theology and his master’s of divinity from Iliff School of Theology. He also earned a master’s of arts degree in pastoral care and counseling from Iliff and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Emporia State.
“I’m at a point in my life where I’m looking for a new challenge, a new adventure, and a new way to share my gifts in ministry,” Brady said. “This seems like the perfect opportunity for all of that. The Parsons and Five Rivers districts are comprised primarily of small- to medium-sized congregations. Their vitality will depend upon the extent to which they can continue to connect with the people in their communities. Building upon and strengthening the networks will be one of my goals.”
Todd Seifert is communications director for the Great Plains Conference. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.