After 18 years in the ministry and three years as Elkhorn Valley District superintendent, the Rev. Eldon Davis will be retiring at the end of June.
“I feel like it’s time to go to a different stage in my life,” said Davis, 69. “I’m looking forward to working with churches and being a part of a church – teaching or wherever I can fill in at the pulpit.”
But before that, Davis said, he and his wife, Nancy, will take a year off to “enjoy spending time with my grandkids,” three in Omaha and three in Pennsylvania. The Davises have two children.
Davis became the Elkhorn Valley superintendent after the unexpected death of the Rev. Marvin Neubauer in May 2015. Last year, he began sharing the DS duties of the Great West District.
He said he’s enjoyed being able to reach out to the communities in the districts.
“Sometimes we think big churches in big cities, but what’s happening in rural Nebraska is fascinating,” he said. “You cannot believe the stories of not only mission work, but people coming to Christ.”
Davis said he’s encouraged by the growth in the past year of networks where pastors and churches can share ideas and resources.
“I think that’s the future,” he said. “You keep it in the context of the community, and now there’s this geographic network that can build on what people or doing, or what on what I or the conference can do.
“It becomes more vital,” Davis added.
Davis served Nebraska churches in Barada-Dawson, Hershey-Sutherland-Paxton, Springfield and Ainsworth-Johnstown.
Prior to becoming ordained, Davis worked as a psychotherapist and counselor for rural mental health agencies in Nebraska, and he taught sociology at Peru State College.
He joined the UMC while in Auburn, Nebraska, and immediately “a pastor there said, ‘You’re being called,’” Davis said.
“I thought God had a sense of humor to do that,” Davis said.
It’s his sense of humor that makes Davis stand out among the district superintendents, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. said.
“He’s a great colleague and a great team player,” Bishop Saenz said, noting that Davis will wear whatever liturgical colors are in season to cabinet meetings.
“He does everything willingly and with a good spirit,” the bishop added.
Bishop Saenz said Davis’ former career gave him the “ability to understand the family system and approach the situation with the intent of bringing healing and wholeness.”