Pastor of One of the Largest Churches in Houston will Retire on June 30, 2016


Houston, Texas - Rev. Dr. Stephen Wende, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Downtown Houston will retire on June 30, 2016.  Bishop Janice Riggle Huie announced today that she will be working with District Superintendent Andy Noel in collaboration with the FUMC lay leadership to assure a smooth transition to a new Senior Pastor during the regular appointment season. Bishop Huie adds, “Steve has been a faithful servant in his role at one of the flagship United Methodist churches in this country. He has laid a foundation that will continue to serve both the members there and our entire community.”
Dr. Wende has served First United Methodist Church since 2001. During his tenure, the church has served both the downtown community and West Houston at an additional campus that includes Wesley Academy (grades K-8) and the Quillian Recreational Center. Under his leadership, First United Methodist has been extraordinarily fiscally responsible. He is leaving the church mortgage debt-free even though the church expanded to a second campus and renovated the downtown location. DS Andy Noel states, “The legacies that Dr. Wende leaves are of pastoral excellence and courageous leadership.  He serves as a great example for our emerging young clergy.”
He has encouraged the offering of a variety of worship experiences both traditional and contemporary.  He has also strived to serve multi-cultural congregations that truly reflects the diversity of Houston. Dr. Wende was also instrumental in providing leadership to create a unique partnership with Covenant Glen United Methodist Church so that the expansive west campus is fully utilized by both congregations.
In addition to his service at First UMC, Dr. Wende has also held numerous leadership positions in the United Methodist Church, including the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry, the Task Force on Evangelism, and election to the last six United Methodist General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Due to his high interest in the welfare of the community, Dr. Wende has served as a Director of the Methodist Hospital of Houston, a Director of the Texas Methodist Foundation, a Trustee of

Huston-Tillotson University, a Trustee of Houston Christian High School, a Commissioner of the Methodist Home of Waco and a Trustee of Texas Wesleyan College.
Dr. Wende and his wife, Karin, will be staying in the Houston area, expanding their teaching ministry and assisting other pastors and congregations.   He stated, “We are deeply grateful for the blessing we have been given by the First Methodist family, and the even greater blessing of being part of their amazing ministry to this city and the world.”