Williams called to lead clergy excellence

David Burke


Rev. Kathy Williams speaks during the installation service for Bishop David Wilson on Feb. 11 at Countryside United Methodist Church in Topeka. Williams has been named as the next director of clergy excellence for the Great Plains Conference. She will start in her new role May 1. Photo by David Burke

More than two years after she was appointed as clergy leadership coordinator, the Rev. Kathy Williams will be moving up as director of clergy excellence.

“I am thankful for the many qualities that Rev. Williams brings to this position,” Bishop David Wilson said. “Her passion for serving Christ is foremost, and her commitment to the Great Plains is evident.”

The move is effective May 1.

Williams, 60, began work as clergy leadership coordinator in January 2021. She primarily works with a task force of pastors who are in cross-racial, cross-cultural appointments, as well as leading the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) task force, which is scheduled to become a permanent committee next June.

“These two task forces have really been working hard over this past year and are putting forth some really good and strong recommendations for our conference to really move forward in this new season,” she said. Despite church disaffiliations in the conference, “people working on the task force remain extremely hopeful.”

There will be a successor to Williams in the clergy leadership role, Bishop Wilson said, which should be announced before the annual conference session, June 7-10. She will not be assuming duties as assistant to the bishop. Bishop Wilson plans to make an announcement regarding that role in the near future.

Williams succeeds Bishop Delores Williamston, who was voted as the first Black female episcopal leader in the South Central Jurisdiction during its conference in November in Houston. She was assigned as bishop of the Louisiana Conference and began Jan. 1.

A Wichita native who grew up in Saint Mark UMC, Williams worked for 17 years as a school psychologist with a special education cooperative in Emporia. She first was a pastoral assistant at Emporia Grace UMC before entering Saint Paul School of Theology.

Her first appointment was to Topeka Asbury-Mount Olive UMC in 2011, followed by one year as an associate at St. James UMC in Kansas City, Missouri. She served as associate pastor at Lawrence First UMC before becoming pastor at Holton UMC from 2017 until her conference appointment.

“Her experience of serving churches of many sizes will serve the Great Plains Annual Conference well, and I look forward to her serving in this role,” Bishop Wilson said.

Williams said she was “completely surprised” when the bishop approached her with the offer.

“I felt extremely honored and extremely valued for the gifts that I’m offering in ministry,” she said. “I would have never thought myself being in consideration for the position.”

Her husband, Earl Williams, is a benefit specialist for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, as well as serving as the campus pastor at Washburn University in Topeka.
Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford
Williams praised the work of the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator, who has served as interim director of clergy excellence since mid-November.

“She’s been doing an incredible job,” Williams said.

“Ashlee has served so very well as the interim director of clergy excellence, and I have appreciated the great time and effort she has given to her work to equip, prepare and engage clergy in the annual conference,” Bishop Wilson added.

Williams also praised the work of her co-workers.

“We have such a great team in clergy excellence,” she said. “That’s a gift to me — they do extraordinary work.”

Williams said that when she entered the ministry she saw herself serving a Black church, perhaps at her home church of Saint Mark.

“Because I grew up in that church, I always envisioned myself deeply as part of that community,” she said. “But God has moved me into other areas that have really grown me.”
Contact David Burke, content specialist, at dburke@greatplainsumc.org.

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