Three new district superintendents installed in online service

David Burke


View the entire appointment celebration video here.

In a heartfelt ceremony, three new district superintendents were installed during a virtual gathering on Aug. 16. 

The Rev. Dr. Tom Brady was installed as Five Rivers and Parsons districts superintendent; the Rev. Jenny Collins was installed as superintendent of the Topeka and Flint Hills districts; and the Rev. Dee Williamston formally added the Hutchinson District to her duties as Salina District superintendent. 

Rev. Dr. Tom Brady

“This is a historical moment for the Great Plains,” Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. said at the beginning of the 60-minute ceremony, noting it was the first time that multiple districts were celebrated together. 

Normally, the bishop told the 170-plus people watching the online service, district superintendent installations are attended by fellow DSes, families of the newly appointed persons, and the home church of the new leaders. 

“The attendance is fair, but it’s also localized within the district,” the bishop said. 

Bishop Saenz formally introduced each of the new cabinet members: 

  • Of Brady, who previously served in Americus, Burlington, Overland Park Heritage and Lawrence First UMCs: “He’s familiar with the eastern and southeastern Kansas context, issues and culture.” 
  • Of Collins, whose resumé includes Devon-Mapleton, Seneca-Vermillion, Centralia-Corning, Coffeyville First and Abilene First: “She has a discerning, reflective, collaborative, non-anxious temperament.” 
  • Of Williamston, who served Topeka Highland Park, Mentor and Independence First before becoming Salina DS in 2014: “She is persistent, inspirational and effective in her ministry. She expects much from others because she expects much from herself.” 
Each of the new district superintendents, on Zoom connections from their homes, gave short sermons. 
Rev. Jenny Collins

Brady repeated a phrase that a church is “what happens after the church (building) burns down and the pastor leaves town,” noting the United Methodist itinerant clergy tradition. “As soon as you get a good one, they move on to another church.” 

He also urged discipleship in the church. 

“Jesus’ command over and over was, ‘Go,’” Brady said. “We need again to hear that command to go.” 

Collins, installed on her birthday, talked about growing up going to church, Sunday school and Vacation Bible School — “a foundation that became a habit” — but that her faith journey was solidified in her first experience at church camp with a neighbor’s invitation to “come and see.” 

Likewise, she said, “Jesus invites (the disciples) to find out for themselves,” and their “mission is not complete until they bring others to Jesus.” 

Williamston, noting it was her third time being installed as a district superintendent (adding a portion of the Hays District in 2018), said she had a fascination with the number 3. 

“Three is not two, and two is not one,” she said. “And one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” 

Rev. Dee Williamston

“We three — Tom, Jenny and I — will offer our service, our gifts, and our talents to the Great Plains Conference,” Williamston said. “We offer our gifts to give with you.” 

The Rev. Troy Bowers, a retired elder serving Waterville and Blue Rapids UMCs and a member of the Topeka-Flint Hills district superintendency committee, thanked the three for their words and wisdom. 

“I feel like I’ve been to church three times this afternoon, and every time I’ve been blessed,” he said. “We look forward to your leadership in these days and weeks and years ahead.” 

As part of the installation ceremony, various lay persons and clergy from the districts offered symbols of service: a Bible, water, chalice and paten, hymnal and Book of Worship, towel and basin, stole, Book of Discipline and globe. 

The three will be among the 10 district superintendents in the Great Plains Conference and the 12 members of the appointive cabinet for 2020-2021. 

Contact David Burke, communications content specialist, at

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