Lynn Davis: Retiring after 31 Years of Service
From pastor’s wife to Congregational Excellence Business Manager, Lynn Davis has served the United Methodist Church in multiple capacities for multiple decades—under the leadership of five different bishops. As she heads toward retirement this month, many celebrate her influence and accomplishments for the Texas Annual Conference.
“My life has not been dull, to say the least,” reflects Lynn Davis, as she wraps up several decades of service within the Texas Annual Conference and ponders the near term opportunities to travel, garden and enjoy crafting at her leisure. She can tell stories about working conditions after a hurricane, about eradicating fire ants on church property purchased by Methodist Board of Missions, retrieving old files in a flooded basement, and helping to launch dozens of churches “From the Ground Up.”
In June of 1983, Lynn and husband Ray moved to Houston from Port Arthur, as he left his associate appointment at Methodist Temple, then assumed his appointment at Shepherd Drive. While attending a revival service at Westbury UMC, following Hurricane Alicia, Lynn met Eliza Love, the director of the Board of Missions, which shared office space with the Texas Annual Conference. “He asked me to come for an interview the next day, which I was glad to do – particularly since we had no electricity at our house and the windows on the parsonage were painted shut,” she recalls. She immediately began working as the part-time bookkeeper, joining a staff of two. “My first office was pretty much a closet,” she says. She worked there for several years, until assuming the fulltime role of secretary and relocating into a reception area.
A hands down favorite highlight among Lynn’s career-full of memories has been the opportunity to support new church starts. “It’s funny to think that the first new church I helped was Strawbridge UMC which was led by Rev. C.J. Taylor who now heads the Heartspring Methodist Foundation here at the conference office. Believe it or not, I can remember when he had an afro!”
As the Assistant Director of the Board of Missions, helping with the “Room to Grow” and “From the Ground Up” initiatives that encouraged individuals and churches to invest in new church starts, involved purchasing property for churches and all of the complexities of property management, “I worked with Director Larry Kelly for 18 years, in a development phase of our conference history that involved realtors, title companies, asbestos abatement, lawyers, fence and trespassing situations just to name a few,” adds Lynn. “I took pictures of vacant land, filed property tax exemptions, and had a lot of on the job training when it came to buildings, mowing, septic tanks and keeping the books for seven mission projects.”
“One of my favorite things to do, has been to attend the charter service to consecrate a new church,” she adds, “and I’ve been to many. Seeing these pastors and ministries grow has been very rewarding. It’s hard to believe I have worked with 72 new church starts in my conference career!”
Lynn says she will miss weekly chapel at the conference offices, but might attend on occasion if she can muster the strength to voluntarily deal with early morning traffic. “With appointments all over Texas, I’ve gotten to know so much about so many places,” she says.
A native of the lower Rio Grande valley, Lynn grew up on a farm and can recall her mother making butter courtesy of the family dairy cow, and learning to can fruit and vegetables. As she enters this new phase called retirement, she will certainly continue her lifelong focus on the “harvest” by becoming more active in the South District and her local church. Retirement will also bring time for sewing, making jewelry, playing dominoes and games with her six grandchildren.
Longtime coworker Debbie Sutton presented Lynn with a handmade quilt signed by dozens of her “biggest fans.” Notes Debbie, “Lynn and I have become great friends, and I can already picture her wrapped up in this quilt in her blue chair, thinking about us in a few months when the weather gets chilly.”
Bishop Janice Huie says, “As Lynn Davis leaves the conference staff, we will miss her treasure of institutional knowledge, her passion for the new churches she nurtured, and her impeccable work ethic. But more importantly, all of her service has been offered with grace, faith and a ready smile.
Current supervisor Dr. Don Waddleton bids Lynn his best wishes, saying, “It has been a pleasure to work with Ms. Davis for the last five years. She has knowledge about this annual conference that no one else has, so we are losing a valuable jewel. She has touched so many lives over her many years of service to the church, and I hope this is not the last time we will see her in this building.”