Hospitality and Welcoming Ministries
Kingdom-focused communication is one of my passions. I am April Canik, and I am an Accredited Business Communicator working to leverage communication tools and techniques from the business world to help churches tell their story and the gospel message with greater impact. I draw from my very rewarding experiences as a former staff member and as a consultant to the Texas Annual Conference, a workshop leader for the Vibrant Church Initiative, and as a former church communication director. I look forward to helping churches of all sizes any way I can.
As an Accredited Business Communicator, April has decades of experience helping organizations tell their story in an impactful way -- using all the tools of the trade from websites to social media messaging. She is a strategic thinker who has also conducted dozens of KINGDOM COMMUNICATION BEST PRACTICES workshops through the Texas Annual Conference Vibrant Church Initiative. She has a passion for church communication and a wide network of resources for communication information and skill sets.
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 film maker, 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.
Solid and modern communications, from website to social media to graphics, can help a church punch above their weight. I have a background in digital media and, as a pastor, have always served in places that could not afford elaborate media teams or communications focused positions. So, I have developed a set of tools and techniques to create effective, high quality, and time efficient modern church communications. Effectively communicating via a website and social media does not have to be time consuming, and the tools out there have gotten far easier to use. I can bring the work, techniques, and systems that I have designed for my own churches to other churches looking to communicate beyond their walls.
Rev. Wesley Duncan
Wesley Duncan is currently the lead pastor of First Methodist Alvin. Wesley has a love for the Methodist Church and strives to help churches adapt to ensure churches can relate to the next generation. Throughout his ministry, he has helped start new worship services, revamped the communication strategy, and worked toward helping each church he has served be the most hospitable church in town. He is not only a young United Methodist clergy, but his first love was architecture. He earned both a Bachelors and Master's in Architecture with a specialty in religious design from Texas A&M University, worked at a top Church Architecture firm in the nation, and is a registered architect in the State of Texas. Wesley would love to help your church design a new perception of your church to those in your community by strategically aligning your goals with new strategies.
Every church says that they are a friendly church, but you probably have no idea of what has evolved in church hospitality in the past five years. It has completely shifted from your grandma's church. Coffee and doughnuts aren't going to cut it anymore. Wesley can help you dream and be inspired by some of the greatest hospitality trends happening currently, but then he can help you find small tangible ways to get started in just a few weeks. You might not be the flashiest church in town, but you do have the potential to offer the greatest hospitality in town.
Jan is highly sought after by congregations who desire a better understanding of who God is calling them to be and need help with defining and implementing a plan of action to become that congregation.
Jan is the owner of Grow Church Now and consults with churches who have questions to answer to move forward in living out the Vision and Mission that God has given them. She has been consulting with churches since 2007 and has had the privilege of working with United Methodist congregations of all sizes and demographics, located across the Texas Conference.
Virtual Worship…. your new front door! Two years ago, we seldom thought about having a conversation regarding what hospitality might look like with an online congregation, but now it is crucial to bring a hospitality focus to everything we offer online and onsite. Today, more than ever, the first impression received by our guests determines if they make a second in-person or virtual visit. That first impression includes the initial welcome, the intentional follow-up, and everything that happens in between.
I have led District trainings and workshops on Hospitality/Welcoming Ministry, have personally consulted with over 40 congregations to bring an improved, intentional hospitality focus, and served as a Ministry Subject Matter Specialists for Vibrant Church Initiative from 2015-2020. My extensive training and network allow me to stay current with best practices in the Hospitality arena and to help each congregation determine their strengths and the opportunities for improvement. I look forward to having a conversation with you soon.
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.
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.
As the son of a United Methodist Pastor, I have spent my entire life in ministry. Even while working for Oklahoma State University, I was active in my local congregation as well as the Oklahoma United Methodist Conference. In 2011, I started my fulltime ministry at Egan Camp & Retreat Center in Oklahoma and served there until moving to Lakeview in 2019. In one way or another, my adult life has revolved around ministry through hospitality, event planning, and fundraising. I am excited to work with you to help strengthen The Kingdom of God.
Hospitality and Welcoming Ministry truly is my calling. God has given me a heart for this, and I love providing the avenue for God to reach out and love others. From planning alumni events for Oklahoma State University to developing hospitality standards in the Camp and Retreat Ministry, I truly believe I can help congregations provide a welcoming environment for members and visitors.
Rev. Dr. Tommy Williams
Rev. Dr. Tommy Williams is Senior Pastor of Trinity UMC in Beaumont Texas. Tommy has served growing congregations in rural, county seat, multi-cultural, and large urban contexts throughout the Texas Annual Conference for over 25 years. His experience includes leading an 11-million-dollar capital campaign, growing children ministries, outreach with refugees and at-risk youth, sports ministries, health ministry, and supporting the creation of non-profits birthed out of the congregation. Tommy’s doctoral work centered on the intersection of faith and public life exploring how a church becomes active in the welfare of the communities where they are serving. The Williams family have enjoyed being foster parents and other community involvement wherever they serve. In their off time they enjoy time at their family land in the woods of East Texas.
The “front door” of the church is crucial to church growth. Tommy focuses on both the physical setting of churches and how to offer inexpensive ways to enhance the space for hospitality and welcome and focus on the training and equipping of lay people for hospitality ministry.