The Rev. Dr. Tom Brady returned to Overland Park Heritage UMC on Aug. 8 to be formally installed as the Kansas City District superintendent.
Brady served as senior pastor at the church from July 1996 to February 2006 — “For almost 10 years, this was home,” he said.
Repeating the phrase “if these walls could talk” frequently, Brady reflected on the “good problems” Heritage had during his time there, including expanding its campus thanks to growing attendance and membership.
But there were also difficulties, including whether to add a new service in between the early and late services. Brady was for it, but church council members were against it, saying it would create a “one and done” mentality where adults and children would get a worship service or Sunday school, but not both.
“We became a house divided,” he told about 75 people attending the afternoon installation ceremony.
Brady said he learned that people could disagree and still work together for a common cause.
He compared it to disagreements he had with his late wife Doreen — whom he had married 39 years ago that day.
“We disagreed a lot, mostly on how to raise the children,” Brady said of his wife, who died in 2019. “But we were united in love for our children and our love for each other.”
While Brady reminisced with the theme of “if these walls could talk,” he also wondered about the walls facing outward.
“What if these walls could talk to the community and the world around us,” he said. “What would they say?”
Brady, 59, was appointed as Kansas City District superintendent after a year as DS in the Five Rivers and Parsons districts. He praised his predecessor, the Rev. Dr. Anne Gatobu, who was in attendance and participated in the ceremony.
“Anne left the Kansas City District in great shape for me,” he said. “If I mess up, it’s all on me.”
Gatobu left the district position to become executive director of locations and care for Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. said Brady was selected for his knowledge of the Kansas City District and his experience with personnel and capital campaigns.
He also praised Brady’s work with Direct Acton and Research Training, or DART, and social justice during his time at Lawrence First UMC (2006-2020) and his role as a board member of the Kansas Health Foundation.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Tom for the past year,” the bishop said. “I’m excited about having him here.”
The ceremony included the gifts of a Bible, water pitcher, chalice, hymnal and book of worship, towel and basin, stole, Book of Discipline and globe from pastors and laity from throughout the district. Bishop Saenz and Brady consecrated the communion.
Two installation ceremonies for district superintendents remain: