Rev. Elizabeth Acosta
Rev. Ely Acosta is a pastor with sixteen years of experience in ministry. His pastoral work began in Cuba where she had the opportunity to lead in three Methodist Churches. Later, moving to Texas, he served as a Hispanic church planter in the Fairbanks, Houston area. Today she is currently serving Conroe's First United Methodist Church as pastor of the Hispanic community.
Through conferences, workshops, and talks, we can provide tools that help couples to complement each other more and face the challenges that exist in relationships.
My name is Gwenda Beavers, and I am the Director of Children and Family Ministry at A&M United Methodist Church in College Station, TX. I have been working with children for well over 25 years. I have just completed the Children’s Ministry and Christian Education Certification program through SMU Perkins School of Theology. I was a Discipleship Specialist for the West District, and now am a member of the Texas Conference Christian Educators Fellowship, which is a group that supports lay leaders and Christian Educators through programming and training.
I am a teacher at heart and love to impart my knowledge to other colleagues. I believe that equipping families to be their children’s spiritual leader is very important. I use fun and interactive methods to accomplish this. Leading children and their families through the Bible can be very exciting. I am one hundred percent a team player and firmly believe that we need to get back to the basics of building pathways to discipleship, reading the Bible and putting the scripture in the hearts and minds of the families that we serve. I would love to help you grow your program. Together we can build something that will have a lasting impact on your Children and Family Ministry program.
I am Lauren Bedevian. I am one of the children’s ministry directors at Memorial Drive UMC in Houston. I have worked in full-time children’s ministries since May of 2010. I graduated from Pfeiffer University with a degree in Christian Education. I am certified in Christian Education through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. I have consulted and worked with the United Methodist Publishing House (Cokesbury) on a variety of children’s ministry projects. I am a licensed foster parent that fosters newborns and infants. My passions are anything relating to children and families.
I can help churches in their family ministries by assessing the programs they currently have and equip them for growth and success. I can help churches without family ministries develop and sustain a family ministry. I have taken curriculum for adults and translated it into a children’s curriculum. I am active in creating weekly programming for families. My knowledge and background in Christian Education will help churches find the resources that are best fit for their congregation.
Hi! My name is Cari Brenek. I am currently the executive director at Good Shepherd UMC. Since joining the staff at GS in 2007, I have spent most of my years in Children’s Ministry, some in Adult Ministry, and now, as Executive Director, I oversee Children’s and Student Ministries. My husband, Glen and I have been married for 25 years. We have 5 amazing kids ages 18-23. Pro-tip: Avoid calling or texting me during an Astros game. I watch all of them.
Because I was the first Children’s Ministry Director at GS, my team of volunteers and I had the distinct task of giving structure to all that had been happening in the ministry. We tried a bunch of things, failed as much as we succeeded, but in the end, we found a system that has stood the test of time. We learned a lot about recruiting – what works, and what doesn’t. We put together a great team of volunteers who love what they do. In fact, some of those original volunteers are still serving in children’s ministry today, almost 15 years later. I am so happy to pass on things we learned, maybe eliminating the need for you to make all the mistakes we made in the beginning.
My name is Steven Fisher, and I was born in Liverpool, England. I have lived in Houston since 2011. I have been the Family Ministries Director at St. Stephen’s UMC since April 2018. St. Stephen’s is a smaller mid-sized congregation in northwest Houston. Under my tenure, we have been able to significantly grow our youth ministry, expand our offerings to our children’s ministry, and increase community engagement throughout our Family Ministries. Outside of work, I have been married to my wife, Christie for ten years. We have a two-year-old and one more on the way.
I have been able to maintain positive relationships with all the parents in our Family Ministries. This was done primarily by understanding the needs of each family and not making all our interactions about church or their children. I am often able to rely on families to join in with service projects, and to remain engaged with their children’s discipleship pathways.
Rev. Neomi ‘NeNe’ Fletcher
Emory University - Master of Divinity with concentration in Theology and Ethics. Rice University - Bachelor of Art in Religious Studies, Bachelor of Art in Policy Studies - Urban and Social Change Concentration. Community College of Aurora - Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. Child Care Education Institute Online - Infant and Toddler Safety Certificate
Rev. Neomi Fletcher has a contagious energy and a love for the concept of family that allows her to draw all household members into agreement about how to approach their collective well-being. Honoring the role that parents/guardians play in setting the household foundation, Rev. Fletcher begins to evaluate what exposure needs to be given to equip parents with additional tools to support the development of their children, care for aging parents and pursue their individual purpose. Her holistic approach to family spiritual growth allows everyone to participate and everyone to know their individual contribution to the well-being of their home and community.
I was called into ministry when I was a junior in High School. I started leading bible study at church and taking on leadership roles in the Christian Club on campus. The fall after I graduated, I jumped right into ministry as a year-round youth intern at Texas City First United Methodist Church. Later I would become the youth director. In my time at this church, I also lead a young adult group, had the creative space to create new ministries, was the church liaison for events, lead mission groups, worked in the Mother’s Day Out, and directed VBS. Eventually I was called to leave this church and personally grew in a new church. At Friendswood Methodist Church I was the Associate Director of Student Ministries and later became the Director. Over the years I have directed summer camps at Lakeview, hosted district events at our church, managed volunteer appreciation for district and conference events, and been the South District Youth Coordinator. Recently I was an interim Children’s Director at St John’s Methodist Church in Texas City, helping families reconnect post-pandemic. Now I am the Family Ministries Director at Moody Methodist Church where I run the Children’s Ministry, connect families to the church, bridge a gap between children, youth, and our day school, and get to help do ministry with the youth staff.
I have done many different spiritual gift surveys and never seem to have the exact same line up or in the same order, however I always have Mercy. In the mix you can usually find apostleship, leadership, shepherding, and hospitality. A lot of my gifting involves me being with people wherever they are. I am a great listener and caregiver for where people might be in life. I believe therefore hospitality is part of my specialty. I want people to feel comfortable, seen, and heard. I love hosting events where I can serve my guests, make them feel welcome, taken care of, and connect them with new people. My experience in church settings has varied from socio-economic, congregation size, location, viewpoints, budgets, staff size, and more. My diversity, experience, and giftings has led me to this position as a Ministry Specialist. I am excited to make connections in Children’s, Youth and Hospitality Ministries; to help be a resource to other churches in our district and conference.
My name is Alain Leistikow, Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Livingston. I am married to the Lakeview famous Natalie Jeane Leistikow, who has blessed me with a beautiful baby girl in 2021 named Junia Joy. Any theologians out there recognize my daughter’s name from scripture? I have been in youth ministry for about 12 years with half of those years spent in Livingston. I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary with my Masters of Arts in Theological Studies specializing in Youth Ministry. I love to fish out on Lake Livingston, hunt whitetail deer in South Texas, and play video games specifically on the pc. That is basically me in a nutshell.
Something many churches and for that matter many congregational members don’t realize is that Children and Youth ministries was a particular passion for Jesus. I am sure many of you can think about the time Jesus taught adults to be more like children, or the time when he commanded to let the little children come to him. Plus, the 12 disciples were not men in their 30s or 40s, but actually ranged in age from 12-21. As such I have spent the majority of my adult professional life dedicating myself to building children’s and youth ministries in the model that Jesus gives us all. In the past 6 years at Livingston, I have grown the youth ministry from 10 teens up to 200 pre-pandemic, and then during the pandemic from 30 up to 60. Along with numerical growth I have taken this youth ministry all over the world on mission trips from the Dominican Republic to Israel. Lastly, in 6 years this youth ministry has raised over $100,000 in fundraisers for missions, Summer camp, and over various activities. I can help you build a Jesus focused, worship-oriented children’s and youth ministries who through faith will go out into the world on various mission trips.
Mindy has a background in psychology and has worked in ministry for over 15 years. She is passionate about helping people feel connected in the church. She loves helping people find an area to serve and plug into. She feels strongly about partnering the local church and families together to grow a child’s spirituality. She loves to help children understand and relate to scripture at their level.
Her experience includes leading and growing a mid-week program for the church and community for 80+ elementary aged children and a weekly worship service for children aged Kinder-5th grade. She has developed and trained multiple strong volunteer bases for Sunday morning, Mid-Week, VBS, special events and Confirmation at multiple churches. She has experience in nursery protocols and best practices along with developing and leading Confirmation classes and preteen groups.
Mindy has extensive experience developing family programming including bible studies geared towards parenting, moms, and moms prayer groups. She has started family activities and annual events bringing fellowship and growth within the individual family and the church family.
Rev. Brandy Stevens
Hello! My name is Brandy Stevens, I’m from a small-town in Southeast Texas. I graduated from Lamar University, Beaumont and continued my education of studies for a Master of Divinity degree at Southern Methodist University, Dallas. I love introducing people to Jesus and seeing lives changed by the grace and mercy of God. I have served as a Children’s and Youth Director at First United Methodist Church, Nederland and I currently serve as Pastor at Fairwood United Methodist Church, Tyler.
Throughout the past twenty years I have served in children and family ministries. I can assist in setting up new or refreshed vibrant children, youth, and family ministries. I am also familiar with licensed weekday school ministries. I absolutely love making Jesus known to young children, while fostering an environment that is fun and soaked in the Spirit!