Community Engagement and Outreach

Specialists

Rev. Preston J. Allen

Preston J. Allen is a native of Kansas City, Mo. He currently serves as the Director of Environmental Services with CHI St. Luke’s Patients Medical Center, Pasadena, Texas.

Preston serves as the Principal for Allen Consulting which provides consultative services to nonprofit sectors in management, administration, fund development, board relations, social services, and mental health. Previously Preston worked with the National Alliance on Mental Health Greater Houston (NAMI GH)/and the BeyGood Foundation project that sought to improve the level of utilization, access, and treatment for Mental Illness for the African American and Latinx communities in Houston. Preston has also consulted with St. John’s United Methodist Church’s Bread of Life Nonprofit in developing opportunities to develop psychotherapy and supportive resources to those suffering from Mental Illness.

Preston previously served as the as the Director for Non-Profits and Community Development at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church (WABC). In that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing and managing three primary non-profit affiliates as the Executive Director (WATMI, WA5C’s and WAICV). He has knowledge of nonprofit board governance, compliance, fiscal oversight, fund development, grant writing and community outreach. He has knowledge of 501 c (3)’s, real estate, facilities, rental property, senior and transitional housing.


Rev. Mike Cline  

I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Second career pastor. I have a background in Management, Finance, training, HR, P&L responsibility, purchasing, supply chain, customer service, marketing, and social media production. I have masters level education in history and literature and doctoral level education in Family Systems and pastoral care (among others). I received my M.Div. degree in 2002 from SMU. I was ordained as an elder in 2005. I successfully ran restaurants and I worked for Fidelity Investments in their mutual fund department. I have been a clergy mentor for our conference for several years and a member of the DBOM. I served as district finance chair, chair of the Wesley Foundation board for TJC, on the conference Safe Sanctuary Committee, and as the Walk to Emmaus Community SD. I have high level experience with community involvement and working on behalf of children.

Appointed to Cheatham Memorial UMC – Edgewood. The only non-elder pastor they have had. Worked full time and went to SMU full time. There for 5 years and saw a lot of growth. Built a new fellowship hall, offices, and education building. Revamped the old education building to a new children’s wing.

Appointed to FUMC Troup to follow the pastor who murdered his wife in the parsonage. Stayed in Troup for 9 years. Led them to do ministry they had never done, improved the facilities dramatically. Lots of involvement in the local community.

Appointed to Tennison MUMC – Mount Pleasant. Very difficult economic time for the community. Pilgrims relocated, power plant shut down, Guaranty Bank relocated headquarters, Luminant shut down and more. The church had a $760,000 debt. We lost over 250 people due to moves and death. Dropped from an average worship of 280 down to 120. Since, we have paid off the debt, worship attendance the second week of September was 439 (both in person and online). Ministries include Free community health fair, wheelchair ramps, adopting 4th grade class at neighborhood elementary, literacy program, Summer Lunch program for all who wish to come, and much more. Time at Tennison – 9+ years.  Appointed to FUMC Quitman in November of 2021. Currently at this appointment.

I followed the pastor who murdered his wife in the church parsonage in Troup. My work there required a huge community presence and involvement. I became the Chamber president and worked closely with the school system. Since that time, I have been involved with community outreach in many ways. Community Health Fair, Literacy programs, fundraising, C.A.S.A., Communities in Schools, Summer lunch feeding program, Texas Ramp Project (wheelchair ramps), scholarships for dual-credit courses for kids who can’t afford them, adopting 4th grade class in our neighborhood, and much more.


Rev. Trey Comstock, III 

My ministry journey began at the age of 15, when I became the sound tech (and terrible background singer) of my youth group’s praise band. From there, it’s been quite a journey. I studied Theatre and Political Science at the College of William and Mary and hold a Master of Education from George Mason University, a Master of Public Health from Emory University, and a Master of Divinity, also, from Emory University. In between semesters, I worked as an international missionary and researcher, primarily in Kenya and Paraguay with shorter term pieces all over the place. I’ve been a playwright, worship media technician, middle school special education teacher, researcher, documentary filmmaker, missionary, and, finally, pastor. Grace church is the fifth congregation that I’ve had the joy of serving. Before coming to Palestine, I was the pastor at Lexington UMC and Blue UMC, in Lexington and Blue, Texas. Prior to that, I was the founding Associate Pastor of CrossRoads UMC in Pearland, Texas, and the Pastor-in-Charge at Smith Chapel UMC in Tunnel Hill, Georgia. 

I have served churches in a wide variety of setting from extremely rural, to small town, to suburban. In each of them, I have worked with churches to orientate themselves outward towards their community. In the suburbs, it was reaching apartment complexes. In rural areas, it has been community nights, corn mazes, and spring festivals. In small towns, I have worked to make the church the center community life. In my current context, a town of a 20,000 people, we now have 5,000 to 6,000 people a year passing through our three main community events as well as opening our church to local food trucks and home businesses looking to grow. I can work with churches both on the event planning side but also on making the cultural shift within the church to focus on making the church a home for the community.


Rev. Linda Davis

Rev. Linda Davis has over twenty-five years of experience as an Assistant Legal Administrator in Labor and Employment Law. After years of experience in the corporate field and several years serving as an Associate Pastor, Rev. Davis was called to serve as the Pastor of First United Methodist Church-College Station.  She currently serves as the Pastor of Boynton Chapel United Methodist Church-Houston.   

Rev. Davis has a great passion and commitment for community engagement and social justice issues.  She is committed to leveraging the strengths of research and faith communities towards efforts to improve the social determinants of health in underserved communities.  This work has been supported by a special project with the University of Houston (Strategic Plan, Goal 3 – Social Responsibility) to “Help Build Equity and Inclusion in Our Community by strengthening UH and community partnerships with Historic Third Ward and the City of Houston.”  She has served as a lead facilitator for a special project with the City of Houston Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice on strengthening police and community partnerships.  Rev. Davis recently co-wrote and was awarded the Central South District grant on Diversity Equity and Inclusion from Houston Methodist Hospital and a grant from Texas Mission of Mercy, Smiles Foundation.  She serves as mentor pastor to several students earning their divinity degrees.  Rev. Davis has earned graduate degrees from LeTourneau University and Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.  She is the owner of Envision Community Solutions, LLC, which focuses on the creation of 501(c)(3) and strategic plans for nonprofit organizations. 


Connie Fowler

I am Connie Fowler. I am a Life-Long Methodist. My husband, Steve and I have been married for 55yrs. and raised two grown children. I am a Breast Cancer survivor, have a Music background and “will talk to anyone” according to my family & friends!

I was certified in Christian Education at Perkins School of Theology in 1998. I have loved serving as Christian Education Director for all ages, in two (2) local United Methodist Churches here in the Houston area for over 30 years until retirement, December 2020. I am an active member of the Texas Conference Christian Educators Fellowship. I continue to lead Adult Bible Study Classes at Mission Bend UMC, am a Substitute Children’s Sunday School Teacher, work the weekly distribution of food at The Mission Bells Food Pantry, continue support of The West Houston Emmaus Community by “working” walks, and find ways constantly to use the skills and training provided by Stephen Ministry with individuals in the church and community.

Through my experience of leading Christian Education – Sunday School, Nursery, Senior Travel Groups & Small Groups with over 350 participants of All Ages to the decline in church attendance, especially in the Christian Education area (35 loyal participants); I can offer encouragement and hope to churches to “stay the course”. With Prayer and Mentoring of faithful church members, I believe Jesus will revive His church and make it Again a “Beacon of Love” for the community. Some of the strategies I will use to accomplish this task may include: Discover individual members’ Spiritual Gifts through workshop process. Start Weekly Back to Basics Bible Studies (Disciple, Daily Devotionals, Planned Bible Reading Programs).  Challenge the congregation outside of own needs into an attitude of Mission, locally and/or beyond. (UMCOR, UMARMY, Red Cross, Local Food Pantry, etc.)


Rev. Michael Gienger

Rev. Michael Gienger is an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He received his undergraduate degree in Religion, concentrating in Christian Ethics, from Baylor University, and his Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Michael has been serving as co-pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Galveston, Texas since 2014. Central is a hybrid church plant/revitalization that is making space for hopeful skeptics and the spiritually homeless through a generous orthodoxy and focus on justice ministries. Michael's top five CliftonStrengths include strategic, ideation, intellection, connectedness, and futuristic.

From establishing an onsite medical clinic to address health inequity within Galveston's poorest communities to developing a free bicycle repair shop, Michael has helped Central UMC find creative ways to engage with their community. Michael specializes in ministries that work "with," not "for," marginalized communities. Michael can help congregations think through creative partnerships with community organizations and help churches think through mutuality ministries to expand their impact and reach.


Rev. Stephen Goldsmith

Stephen Goldsmith is a husband and father with a passion for creating bridges that help others reach their greatest potential.  Prior to being appointed as the Lead Pastor of Journey of Faith UMC, Stephen toured as a professional musician with noted Gospel Music artists including Fred Hammond, Donald Lawrence, Yolanda Adams, Michelle Williams (of Destiny’s Child), Marvin Sapp, and more.  Stephen received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Audio Acoustics with an emphasis in Audio Recording Engineering from Columbia College Chicago and possesses 20yrs of music production experience.  In addition, he has gathered 34yrs of experience as a worship leader with a passion for facilitating worship that meets traditional and contemporary preferences.

As a veteran worship director, I will work with leadership teams to develop and employ practical methods for fruitful worship ministries.  Thus, fruitful worship ministries incorporate music ministry that is contextually fruitful.  The pandemic forced a great majority of congregations to develop online worship experiences.  Having a production background afforded an opportunity to identify necessary equipment for our audio/visual team at Journey of Faith to improve our online presence as a result.  Moreover, as a ministry specialist, I have an opportunity to help our sister churches identify practical marketing and branding strategies, radical hospitality, and mission-minded community engagement. 


Rev. Enid Henderson

Enid S. Henderson currently serves as Pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.  Previously, she served as Executive Pastor of Jones Memorial United Methodist Church, giving leadership to all areas of ministry, leadership development, communication, branding, and provided administrative oversight. Prior to serving in fulltime ministry, Enid was founding owner and Chief Executive Officer of ESH Public Relations & Advertising firm specializing in strategic planning, strategic marketing and communications, graphic and web design, and advertising and public relations. Enid has more than 20 years of experience and expertise in these areas with a client portfolio that included small to large businesses, professional athletes, political figures, authors and speakers, universities, and churches. Enid earned a Master of Divinity degree at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Journalism with an emphasis of Public Relations from Texas Southern University.

Loving your neighbor means engaging your mission field in practical and relevant ways that not only help meet the needs and serve your mission field, but also helps to build community, build relationships, and remove barriers to resources. Effective community engagement and outreach requires us to better understand who our neighbor is, their needs, and then prayerfully discern how our gifts, ministry, resources, and potential partnerships align to help meet those needs. I have served and worked with churches of various budgets, staff, and volunteer sizes to lead engaging, transformative local missional projects that connect the church with neighbor. This work includes equipping churches to leverage new and existing resources, identifying, and connecting with potential partners, collaborating with other entities that already do it well, and engaging the assigned mission field in intentional and strategic ways.


Rev. Andrew Hook

Howdy! I’m Pastor Andrew Hook, currently serving Magnolia UMC in Magnolia, Tx. I was born and raised in Central Texas before moving to College Station. After working in retail management at Waldenbooks, Kay Jewelers, and LensCrafters, I received a B.A. in History and Political Science from Texas A&M. While attending Duke Divinity, I served as a student pastor in the Spring Hope Charge (Gibson Memorial UMC and White Oak UMC) in the North Carolina Conference. After graduating from Duke Divinity, I was appointed to Christ Church Sugar Land in 2017 and then to Magnolia UMC in 2019. I’ve been married to Jackie Hook since 2005. And we have 3 amazing kids: Gemma, Lincoln, and Izzy. I’m a sucker for a great story and a good cup of coffee.

Every single appointment I have served had their particular opportunities and challenges. And each congregation has offered me unique lessons that I have learned and been able to carry with me into each new appointment. The areas that I have developed a real passion for are evangelism and community engagement. If a church is to grow and accomplish its call to make disciples of Jesus Christ, learning how to engage the community in which the church is planted and how to tell God’s story to that community in ways the people can hear is paramount. The places where ministry has taken me has allowed me to learn how to do this wherever God calls me to go. Finally, having served in small membership churches in North Carolina and now in Magnolia, I’ve learned how to overcome the challenges that small churches often face in order to help each church see the possibilities for ministry before them.


Rev. Stephanie Hughes

Rev. Stephanie Hughes has 21 years of pastoral, preaching, and teaching experience as an ordained elder currently serving at St. John’s UMC in Texas City.  In discerning her own call to ministry, she related most to Moses standing before the burning bush ready to reject God’s call with a list of excuses and insecurities.  She learned early on that figuring out a call to ministry, next steps in ministry, strategic planning, or even getting unstuck takes discernment and often times, seeking help from a seasoned professional.  Just as God sent Aaron to walk alongside Moses, God sends individuals to walk alongside us in ministry to be a coach and mentor.  Throughout her ministry career, she has come alongside both lay and clergy to encourage and equip them to discern their next steps in deepening their own journey in personal discipleship and in public ministry.  As a Ministry Specialist, Rev. Hughes is coaching and mentoring clergy in preaching, spiritual formation, community engagement, revitalization, and long-range planning. 

There are all kinds of ways to get involved in community as a pastor and as a congregation.  Rev. Hughes is a leader in her community.  She serves has the chaplain for the local police department and serves on the Rotary Board.  She leads a congregation that is present in community by serving or participating in community events such as the kite festival, Christmas parade and other key events to serve and to bless.  St. John’s blesses the community throughout the year by making mission and outreach 10% of the church budget and expressing God’s love and generosity year-round in a variety of projects that serve their neighbors.  Rev. Stephanie can work with your church through small groups or as a congregation to build a stronger outreach ministry.


Rev. Jay Jackson

I am a second career minister with 25 years of ministry experience who was raised in the United Methodist Church as the child of a UMC pastor.  My first career was as a Chemical Engineer with Exxon, but my entire life has been spent as a devoted member/pastor in the United Methodist Church.  I have been blessed to serve in a wide variety of ministry settings from small rural churches to large multi-staff churches.  I have served in several East Texas settings, as well as in the Houston area and College Station, and was also a part of the Cabinet of the Texas Annual Conference.  I have been blessed to leave every church that I served in better condition than I found it, while bringing significant turnarounds to several of them.  I currently serve a dynamic congregation at Longview First United Methodist Church that is thriving and extending ministry in new and exciting ways.

Every church should understand the context in which it exists and discern God’s call to engage and transform that which is broken as an expression of God’s grace working through the church.  I have been blessed to serve in a variety of contexts where the churches I have served have embraced that call and faithfully worked to effect change through kingdom work.  That has varied from an afterschool ministry in a small rural church for latchkey kids in the local school to developing community-wide partnerships for the transformation of South Longview and a rebirth of congregational ministry that is authentic to the changed demographics of that area.  I would be happy to assist others in finding the faithful path of community engagement in their unique settings.


Rev. Melissa Maher 

Rev. Melissa Maher, MDiv is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church serving at Mercy Street, a church within Chapelwood United Methodist in Houston, Texas. Having entered pastoral ministry after a career in corporate lending, Melissa’s passion is to bridge the life of the church with the opportunities and assets of the city. She has found a spiritual connection among contemplative spirituality practices, missional outreach, and a Wesleyan expression of grace. 

Mercy Street is a worship community of Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Our mission is to be a safe harbor of hope and transformation, so all may experience the radical grace of God. We are both a church and a mission outpost. Mercy Street is a community with a high percentage of individuals and families in recovery from addictions as well as individuals or families affected by mental health. Staff and lay leaders develop the competencies to be bridge builders among the three worlds of the church, recovery and mental health, and the mission of the church in a neighborhood…all while holding the integrity of Mercy Street’s mission. 

Skills to offer

  • Cultural understanding of recovery and the stigma of addiction and how these impact the spiritual formation of an individual and local church.
  • Connection to local organizations for addiction and recovery as well as mental health. These networks will enhance the ministry of a local church.
  • Models for lay leadership and equipping individuals in recovery to be in church leadership.
  • Personal experience with Al Anon and the pastoral intensity of a congregation with a high presence of addiction.
  • Sermon and Bible study examples of how to speak to the stigma of addiction and mental illness.
  • Building a staff team and budget which reflects the values of the congregation and her mission.

Rev. Michael McVey

Greetings in the name of Christ, my name is Michael Robert McVey, I have been serving as the Senior Pastor at Sunset United Methodist Church in Pasadena Texas since August of 2019. I have been in the ministry since 2012 after graduating with a bachelor’s in history at Texas A&M University and began immediately as a licensed local Pastor at Zion UMC in Iola TX. I attended seminary and received my Master of Divinity at Duke University from 2013 to 2017 while also serving as a Student Pastor at Broadway UMC, North Carolina. I was appointed as the Associate Pastor at CrossRoads UMC Houston in 2017 and was ordained as an Elder on May 29th, 2019. My wife Andrea and I met at the Wesley Foundation at Texas A&M, and we have a daughter, Shiloh Grace McVey, who was born on May 29th, 2021. Besides serving at Sunset I am also a Chaplain for the Southeast Volunteer Fire Department, and an Auxiliary Chaplain for the United States Coast Guard, Sector Base Galveston, Cutter Service.

Throughout my time in the ministry, I have had the privilege of working in various congregations, each one unique in their own ways. From rural Texas and North Carolina to suburban Houston and working-class Pasadena, each church has an identity. But the identity of the church must be one that reflects the community in which it resides, this can only be done through understanding the specific needs of the families around your congregation. One must consider the demographics, cultures, languages, economic state, successes, and problems that are facing the specific community surrounding your church. I can assist in providing guidance on how to craft action plans and mission goals that are specifically oriented to the community in which you reside. A congregation that molds its mission first to the Gospel and then to its neighbors is a church that will remain relevant and mission centered.


Rev. Luis Ramirez

Pastor Luis was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He is a graduate of the Moores School of Music and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston where he studied Opera Performance, Italian and Spanish. He received his Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Pastor Luis has been active in ministry and in the community through Walk to Emmaus, Kairos Prison Ministry International, United Way, Meals on Wheels, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, SHSU Charter School, UPWARD™ Soccer, Spring ISD Ministerial Alliance, Northwest Area Assistance Ministries and UM ARMY.

In the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, he has served as the Founding Pastor of Misión Milby UMC in Houston, as the Associate Pastor at Servants of Christ UM Parish, also in Houston, and Cedar Bayou Grace UMC in Baytown, and as the Senior Pastor of Cypress Trails UMC in Spring.

While at Cypress Trails UMC, Pastor Luis led a Change Management process that emphasized Community Engagement and Outreach. Over a period of six years, the Church’s congregation accurately mirrored its multiethnic community Demographics. This process included the transformation of the Music Ministries in style and multigenerational engagement, charismatic Preaching, and an emphasis on fruitful Stewardship.

Pastor Luis spurred Cypress Trails UMC’s Revitalization through Fundraising. In six years, he helped raise over $500,000 inclusive of grants, individual gifts, bequests, corporate support and building rental revenue. This caused the Church to reengage its Vision and develop Mission Strategies for reaching the neighborhood.

Pastor Luis has been involved in Clergy Mentorship as a mentor to the Conference’s Exploring Candidates for ordained ministry. He has also mentored the Associate Pastors, Lay Ministers and Staff members under his leadership throughout his ministerial career.

Currently, Pastor Luis lives in Baytown with his wife, Heather, their daughter, Isabella, and their dog, Luna, where he serves as the Senior Pastor of Cedar Bayou Grace UMC.


Rev. Sharon Sabom

A native of Fort Bend County, I’ve serving churches in the Texas Annual Conference in some capacity since 1996.  I have served in the district as the chair of the Finance Committee, chair of the District Committee on Ministry and as a District Trustee.  On the conference level I have chaired the Committee on Spiritual Formation, chaired the Health Benefits committee, and served on the Pensions Committee.  I also currently serve on the board of Texas Methodist Foundation as a trustee. In retirement, I became certified as an Intentional Interim Ministry Specialist.  I have a passion for serving and helping the smaller churches in our Conference.

I have been successful in creating new avenues of outreach and community engagement in small membership churches.  Each community is unique, and I love discovering what works best for that community.


Rev. Dr. Keith Somerville

Dr. Keith L. Somerville is the husband of Mrs. Jessica Somerville. Rev. Somerville is an Ordained Elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and currently serves as Senior Pastor of Riverside-Houston United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.

He is a graduate of Morehouse College, The Interdenominational Theological Center (Gammon Seminary), and a Doctor of Ministry from The Candler School Of Theology at Emory University with a concentration in Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation. His final capstone at Emory University focused on Moral Leadership and the plausibility of moral preaching in times of racial crisis. Dr. also holds a certification in Clinical Pastoral Education from St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital (Houston Medical Center.)


Rev. Dr. Steve Stutz

The Rev. Dr. Steve Stutz is an ordained Lutheran minister who has served rural/small town congregations in west Texas, as well suburban/inner city congregations in the metro Houston area. He has worked extensively with clergy and congregations of the Texas Annual Conference in a wide variety of consulting roles since 2014. He is a certified church consultant through the Society for Church Consulting and teaches at the Houston Graduate School of Theology.

Developing a vision and mission statement is an important part of defining the way a local congregation tailors its approach to fulfilling the Great Commission. Dr. Stutz has led several UMC congregations through an intentional process of values discovery, vision discernment, and mission planning/development/execution since 2014. This is process involves a congregational workshop and follow up consultations with leadership to develop and promote the updated vision & mission. Having an updated vision/mission will help your congregation focus on what is really important and provide a basis for developing other aspects of your strategic plan.


Rev. Stephanie Wilkins

Hi everyone! I am Reverend Stephanie Wilkins. I am a native Houstonian, the mother of two sons and nana to six beautiful grandchildren. My undergraduate degree was obtained at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. I have an M. ED in Instructional Technology and a Master of Arts in Ministry from SMU Perkins School of Theology. I was in ministry as an educator for 27 years prior to accepting my call as a Deacon in 2012. I was fully ordained during the 2021 Texas Annual Conference. I was appointed to Blueridge UM prior to my ordination and am currently appointed as one of the Associate Pastors at St. John’s Downtown.

I believe I can serve the church and the community by sharing ways of connecting with the community and connecting with resources within that community. I have worked with groups in areas surrounding the churches appointed by planning/collaborating to bring services to senior citizen complexes; food banks set-up/distribution; guest speakers to address needs/concerns of the congregation and the community; voter registration/engagement/education.


Rev. Jack Womack

I have served as Pastor of LaPorte, First UMC and at Pasadena, Hope Community Church since 2008.

During this tenure he has worked to bring the local church community into the surrounding community. From availability to pray at City council and County Commissioners court to active work with Rotary, Kiwanis, and other civic organizations he has led the church to look outside its walls to become a resource for the community served by the church. Coming from a family of educators he also realized the significance of education and was able to engage the church in mentoring and tutoring at the local elementary school. This civic involvement has enabled the church community to see ways to minister with relevance to a community that is quite diverse. From after school programs to community functions at the campus facility the community has come to rely on Hope as not only a place of worship, but a place the is intentionally offering Christ in tangible and intangible ways.