Mentorship of Clergy


Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston 

I have been a pastor for over 50 years in the TAC. I have served churches in rural, small towns, suburban and urban areas. I have also been a district superintendent. I have been a part of ministry and growth in almost every kind of setting and circumstance.

If I can walk with you in some aspect of your pastoral or prophetic ministry, I am available to listen to you and help you and your congregation find a way forward toward a faithful witness and a hopeful future in these times.


Rev. Alicia Besser 

Alicia Besser has served in a variety of appointments from a large church associate to District Superintendent.  She loves helping pastors process their experiences in the local church. If any of the wisdom she gained in ministry is helpful to others she happy to it share pastors.  

A variety of experiences (associate at a large church, closed a small church, revitalized a soon to be suburban church; Senior pastor with associate in East Texas, District Superintendent and pastored during covid at a new appointment); Supervised Seminary Students doing internships.

Good listener and encourager. I love to brainstorm ideas with others.

Rev. George Brookover

I have fifty-five years of pastoral experience. As an ordained Lutheran (ELCA), I served Holy Comforter Lutheran/Kingwood, Texas for three decades. This encompassed be church planter to leading a staff of nine ordained and lay leaders. From 1996-2014 I served my ELCA jurisdiction as an Intentional Interim Pastor. In 1997 Brookover Leadership was established for training and leading clergy and laity in several denominations.

This realm is designed reinforce the specific gifts and graces that each clergyperson depicts. And, to motivate them in growing forward in their strengths and adding more skills to their resume.

Rev. Jason Burnham

Jason is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana, and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he received his Master of Divinity degree. Pastor Jason served St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Bryan, Texas for 5 years, before relocating to The Woodlands to serve as the founding pastor of Covenant Methodist Church in June of 2011. Pastor Jason and his wife, Lauren have three children: Addison, Aidan, and Sam.

In my experience, revitalization takes place when laity clearly define the vision Through my service to the conference in clergy recruitment, I experienced a call for raising up God given gifts for the work of ministry. That call grew through my ministry in Bryan/College Station as I mentored many young clergy. That work has continued at Covenant where I continue to mentor clergy in preaching, administration, discipleship, and leadership.

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bynum

With degrees in engineering and business, Dr. Jonathan Bynum became a third-generation pastor with a unique perspective that has served him well in leading churches of all sizes and in all settings and in all corners of the Conference. As an avid learner and reader, he continues to become better equipped for these challenging times in both our church and our culture. Jonathan and his wife, Lea, enjoy the time they get to spend with their four children and two grandchildren.

Jonathan has worked formally and informally through the Board of Ordained Ministry and District Committees on Ministry, helping countless individuals in the ministry process be better equipped theologically and practically, as they clarify their calling

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 have been a TAC clergy mentor for several years and introduced new people into ministry. I have professional experience and education in Operations, Family Systems Theory, management, HR, training, and leadership.

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. 

Rev. Dr. Marty Dunbar

Rev. Dr. Marty Dunbar has been a catalyst of change and innovation throughout his ministry. He has the gifts of ideation, vision, and taking complex things and making them simple. Marty’s ministry background started with the privilege of serving as the Pastor of Students and then Pastor of Innovative Ministries in a suburban church that rapidly grew in the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s (300 to 8500 members). As a young pastor, he developed innovative processes and systems and built ministries to fit a traditional Methodist culture. Next, his time as Preaching Pastor for Modern Worship and Executive Pastor in Tyler, Texas, gave him the experience of working with a stagnant and very traditional downtown congregation. The innovative implementation of new processes and systems helped foster growth in all areas. Since 2015, Marty has served a turn-around church in Northwest Houston. This experience has been challenging to change the stagnant culture of this prominent and large neighborhood church. As a result, the Catalyst Culture has fostered change, growth, and a new vision for ministry. Over the first five years, massive differences and improvements happened to the leadership and staff structures, deconstruction and reconstruction of ministry, and the implementation of a discipleship structure for children to adults. Marty understands what is essential for pastors and congregations regarding being an innovative movement for God.

Rev. Dr. Marty Dunbar believes the calling of a church is to be a movement of God, not a monument of God. The definition of a Catalyst is an agent of change. In chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that can cause a difference in the rate of a reaction without itself being consumed. His approach to Coaching Congregations is to help pastor(s), staff, and leaders become agents of change in their particular ministry context. Creative Innovation is essential to creating a movement of God. Marty believes to be a part of a movement of God; we must be a movement of God. To be a movement of God means we personally and corporately need to let God change us. A Catalyst Culture gives pastors, a church, and their staff a chance to thrive through change and create a movement of God. The implementation of a Catalyst Culture is different depending on individual congregations. 

Rev. Marlin Fenn

Marlin has served as pastor in Deport, Baytown, Trinidad/Cedar Creek Lake, Galveston, Hallsville, La Porte, Bryan, and Katy. He served the Northwest District as Superintendent from 2015 until retirement in 2021 and as Interim DS of the South District for three months in 2021. He lives in Katy, TX and has an ugly garden and good-looking grandkids. His interest is in the spiritual health of congregations and pastors. His training and experience include Mediation and Conflict Transformation, Decision Analysis, and Executive Coaching.

Marlin can guide a process for pastors and congregations seeking to move beyond conflicts or crises. He can guide churches that have a real desire to engage the community in ways that can encourage church growth. He can coach pastors needing someone with whom to process difficult events or decisions. 

Rev. Dr. Daniel T. Hannon, Jr.

Dr Daniel Hannon is a 39-Year Member and Elder of the Texas Annual Conference having served 4 congregations; Associate-Pastor of Evangelism and Adult Discipleship at /St. Peter’s, Katy & Bear Creek, Houston; Pastor-in-Charge First, Overton, and as the 29-year tenured Founding & Senior Pastor to Christ Church United Methodist of The Woodlands from 1991-2019.  Dr. Hannon is in the Retired Status and is Certified Interim.  As Founding and Senior Pastor to Christ Church, Dr. Hannon has led the development of a 9-Acre Campus which contains 100,000 square feet of buildings for worship, education, recreation, school, District Offices, and columbarium.  During this tenure, he has received 5,000 persons into the Christian Faith and /or membership into the church.  In addition to his church experience, Dr. Hannon is a public-school teacher in the Alief ISD, with a Life Certification in Secondary Education, Public School Teacher State of Texas. He holds four Degrees, BA Stephen F. Austin State University, MEd University of Houston, MDiv Emory University & DMin Drew University.   During his ministry and Work Dr. Hannon has received 7,000 people into the life of the Methodist Christian Church.

Dr. Hannon is well versed in the local Parish Ministry and how to lead, grow, and sustain the parish ministry of a local congregation effectively and faithfully.  As an experienced, certified public-school Teacher with a Master’s in Education, he offers insight on how to develop Christian Education Ministries.  His Evangelism strategies based on effective marketing and relationship development, has led to the reception of 7,000 people into the membership and life of the church over his years of service.  Central to his work is the insights on effective preaching, staff development and worship ministries.  He has led 7 Capital Campaigns which have raised $16,000,000 in facility, land and building assets. 

Rev. Bryan Harkness

He is the pastor at FUMC Chandler where he has served for seven years. Prior to serving at Chandler, he served for four years as the pastor at Woodville UMC and for five years as an associate at Klein UMC. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience serving in small town churches. 

Bryan Harkness is the pastor at FUMC Chandler. He spent three years as a coach with the Vibrant Church Initiative. He has also served for 12 years on the Board of Ordained Ministry. Through each of those, he has coached and mentored pastors in both small and medium size church, helping them overcome barriers to their ministry and helping them gain better self-awareness.

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. 

Rev. Hughes is compassionate, a good listener and asks the right questions to assist in times of discernment or when you feel like you’ve hit a wall, or your work life and personal life are off balance.  She is a mom with two teenage kids and a rambunctious husband.  She has served in a variety of church ministry settings from serving small rural churches in East Texas to serving large churches in the outskirts of Houston as an associate and currently serving a mid-size congregation with staff.  She has experience in conflict management, staff development, and developing vital ministry in challenging times.  

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.

I have found myself increasingly in the role of mentorship in my ministry.  In addition to my time as a District Superintendent, I have mentored associate pastors in my pastorates with church staffs, mentored numerous interns through their seminary internship processes, and have recently led an RCG group of pastors through the ordination process.  In these formal relationships, I have been able to draw upon my own experiences to help guide pastors to better understandings of their roles and assist them in thinking strategically in their appointments.  I have also been blessed by strong collegial relationships that have assisted me and allowed me to assist others in ministry mentorship.

Rev. Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson is a UM elder who retired in 2019 after 32 years of active service. Being retired gives him more time to partner with other church leaders and pastors to leverage that experience. He and his wife, Susan, now attend the west campus of St. Peter’s UMC in Katy.

After working for a Fortune 500 Company as an engineer for twelve years, Bob served churches in East Texas and Houston as solo/senior pastor, then as executive pastor for 15 years at Chapelwood UMC. At Chapelwood, Bob helped lead the church through two changes in senior pastors, both with 20+ year tenures. His ministry involved visioning and strategic planning, staff supervision and accountability, and he helped implement ministries to deepen discipleship and improve mission alignment, all in addition to normal pastoral functions of teaching, preaching, and pastoral care. Leveraging his longtime experience as executive pastor, Bob has consulted with several other churches both inside and outside the Texas Annual Conference on the executive pastor role.

Bob was a member of two different District Boards of Ordained Ministry and for 12 years he served on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, including a term as the Conference Psychological Officer. His BOM service gave him the opportunity to serve as a clergy mentor to several cohorts of elder and deacon residents, two of whom eventually became a District Superintendent. (He thus thinks of himself as a “grand-pastor!”)

Rev. Charles Jordan

As I am writing this, I want to reflect upon the power and love of Christ as he has empowered me to be a pastor for the last 32 years. I am blessed to have been married for the past 34 years and have five kids and eight grandkids. I have served churches across the Texas Annual Conference from Northwest Texas to East Texas to the Houston area to Southeast Texas, very small congregations to mid-sized congregations. I have seen Christ mold and shape all of these congregations through his Word and his Spirit.

Four years ago, Woodcrest UMC, the church that I am currently serving, transitioned to The One Board Model for our leadership team. I have a PowerPoint that can take a congregation through the process as well share some of the strengths and potential pitfalls of this leadership team model.

As mentioned earlier, I have been a pastor for 32 years, serving various sizes of congregations, one of the things that I have missed is having a mentor, a pastor to come alongside, to pray with me, encourage me, help guide me in the struggles of pastoring as well as balancing my family life. I believe I have much to give in this area of ministry to those who need someone to come alongside them.

One of the things that I have learned in my ministry is that God moves powerfully through prayer. We have a mighty prayer ministry here at Woodcrest. I believe that through these faithful who pray throughout the week and on Sunday mornings, God is pouring himself out on us and through us here at Woodcrest. I use many different guides for prayer: Book of Common Prayer, listening to the Lord, Puritan prayers, prayers from scripture. I can teach a seminar on prayer or guide a leadership team in starting a prayer ministry at your local church.

Rev. Dr. Todd Jordan

Dr. Todd Jordan has been serving churches in the TAC since 1998, including a small congregation in a transitional neighborhood, a medium-size county seat church, and large multi-staff churches. During his first appointment he led a successful merger between two churches which allowed both congregations to discover new life and ministry. Currently Dr. Jordan serves as Senior Pastor of Strawbridge UMC where they strive not to be the best church in the community, but the best church for the community.

Dr. Todd Jordan has been serving churches in the TAC since 1998, including a small congregation in a transitional neighborhood, a medium-size county seat church, and large multi-staff churches. During his first appointment he led a successful merger between two churches which allowed both congregations to discover new life and ministry. Dr. Jordan relies on over 20 years of pastoral experience to assist clergy in discovering their own gifts and graces to work through transition, conflict, growth.

Rev. Cesar Martinez

Hi, my name is Cesar Martinez, and I am the Pastor of CrossRoads UMC. I grew up here in Houston in the Spring Branch area and graduated from U of H. I got my MDIV from Perkins after answering the call to ministry. My wife’s name is Karina and I have a daughter named Shibelle and son named Elisha. 

In my ministry I have had the opportunity to mentor young clergy and people making the transition into Pastoral Ministry. I help them process through both good and difficult situations in ministry. I help equip with leadership and communication skills. I have especially helped Local Pastors in developing a system of exegesis and sermon writing. 

Rev. Mark McClanahan

I have a heart for helping pastors. Throughout my ministry when I observe a pastor struggling, I reach out and offer what I can hoping to ease their load. Every pastor, church and situation are unique. Where I can I offer my 20+ years of experience in hopes of helping other clergy maximize their effectiveness. I have served Longview, Greggton UMC, Linden UMC, Van UMC, Normangee, First UMC and Flynn UMC.


Rev. Dr. Jeff McDowell

Hello, I’m Jeff McDowell. I joined the Texas Conference in 1998 and have served Sugar Land First United Methodist Church as both an associate pastor and now as Senior Pastor and was the founding pastor at The Harvest United Methodist Church. I have been married to Paula for 30+ years and have two adult children. I am a life-long learner and love to read and study in various fields. Before Covid – we loved to travel and visit new places or just lay on the beach. I have always been someone people came to when they needed help with a problem. The key is listening and understanding before attempting to find a solution. If having someone with practical ministry experience think through your circumstances and context and brainstorm some potential ways forward, I would be honored to work with you.

I have coached people in several different organizations and settings. We all need a coach from time to come to both encourage and equip so we can keep growing. Being clergy has its unique set of challenges and having a coach can make a huge difference. In addition to extensive coaching experience, I am a certified life coach and currently completing a Master of Counseling program at Houston Graduate School of Theology.

Perhaps my greatest privilege in ministry was being the founding pastor at The Harvest United Methodist Church. Being a planter requires a number of diverse and sometimes unusual skills not taught in seminary. Some are only learned by experience. If you are a considering leading a new faith community or already doing so, I would love to walk alongside you. God used my Doctor of Ministry in Evangelism to prepare me to plant The Harvest. Studying with Dr. Scott Jones and Dr. William J Abraham shaped my thinking on what it means to do evangelism. I would love to share what I have learned about evangelism. Putting it into practice allowed the churches I have served to receive several conference Copeland Awards.

Rev. Dr. Brad Morgan

Brad seeks to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. As an accomplished preacher, innovative organizer, and energetic spiritual leader, Brad is blessed to serve as an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. His leadership has been recognized with numerous awards and accomplishments during his seventeen years of professional ministry. However, it is the people whose lives have been enlivened and empowered by Jesus that Brad celebrates the most.  Brad has served Bonita of Nacogdoches, St. Paul of Bridge City, Williams Memorial of Texarkana and now Memorial Drive of Houston.  Brad has his Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Perkins School of Theology.  Brad also serves on the Executive Board of Perkins School of Theology, the Board of Testimony HQ, and is a Trustee for Houston Methodist West Hospital.

I hope that I can serve my colleagues by providing a listening and encouraging presence and appreciative inquiry process for their continued development and growth.

Rev. Matt Neely

I am a Pastor in the Texas Conference currently serving as the Lead Pastor at Good Shepherd UMC in the Cypress-area of Houston. Over the last 25 years in ministry, I have had the privilege of serving Jesus at some amazing churches as Senior/Founding Pastor, having successfully planted a church in League City called The Watershed (UMC), and having served as lead Pastor of Parkway UMC in Sugar Land (before coming to Good Shepherd UMC). I have also served as an associate pastor in some incredible churches – Memorial Drive UMC, Clear Lake UMC and Faith UMC – Richmond. It has been an amazing journey so far! I have been married to my very best friend, Ginger, for 22 years and counting. We have 4 kids and a grandson who keeps us young and busy!

One of my favorite things about ministry is helping mentor clergy and helping them find their strengths in ministry so they can put them to work in the church. I have worked with some extremely gifted and hard-working pastors through the years to help them understand their uniqueness, giftedness and calling in the church. I don’t have any special training or certification in mentoring clergy – just a heart to listen, understand, ask questions, and offer counsel if needed. Mainly, I just have a heart to help pastors find healthy rhythms, enjoy their calling, and thrive in ministry for the long haul.

Rev. Michael Peschke

Michael Peschke currently serves as the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church – Lindale, and throughout his 13 years as a pastor he has served congregations all across the Texas Annual Conference. Before becoming a pastor, Michael worked as a construction manager for new home builders and worked as a project manager and consultant for a property management firm in the Houston area.  It is Michael’s work in consulting in the construction industry, and his work helping new homeowners navigate the process of building and maintaining their homes, that has led Michael to become passionate about mentoring others. 

For five years Michael mentored people who felt called into vocational ministry and helped them further discern their calling and move forward in the process of becoming a pastor. Currently, Michael serves as the Chair of Candidacy Leadership for the Texas Annual Conference and oversees the mentoring process that guides potential clergy through discernment and onward to ordination or licensing as a local pastor. Michael is passionate about engaging in the lives of clergy to help them fulfill their calling, grow as a pastor, and navigate the challenges that all pastors encounter as they serve God and their congregations.

Rev. Dr. Carlos Phillips

Elder in full connection, UMC since 2007.

Services to the UMC: Senior Pastor, Conference BOM, District BOM, DIstrict Leadership Team, Conference Task Force, Mentor

Passionate about teaching, coaching, and mentoring, especially Pastors serving Christian churches with discipling ministries as core values.

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 re-engage 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. Dr. Jim Reiter

After 35 years of full-time service in the East Texas area (serving in a wide variety of rural and urban settings and church sizes), I took early retirement from UM parish ministry (in May 2018) so that my wife, Kathy, and I could pursue our interest and passions in spiritual formation on a full-time basis.

My formal training includes: studies at Perkins School of Theology (M.Div., 1987 and D. Min 1992),  a Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation (through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and studies at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2019), Certification and commissioning as a Spiritual Director (via the Episcopal Diocese of Texas’ “FIND School for Spiritual Direction and Formation”)

Since retirement (and the founding of Zoe-Life Explorations []), I have conducted a variety of explorations/workshops for individuals, congregations, and districts, and Conference entities across the United States and Canada—especially focused in and through my work as Director of the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute of Discipleship’s online Certification in Spiritual Formation Program (via its online presence at

I welcome the opportunity to serve individuals and faith communities as they reframe and reclaim the depth and breadth of Christian discipleship—journeying with the Spirit into greater and fuller maturity in Christ.

Mentors play an essential role in the discovery, affirmation, and nurturance of gifts and skills for ministry—promoting greater effectiveness in personal formation and corporate leadership. Crucial to this companioning relationship are trust, a mutual respect for boundaries, a sense of “journey shared,” listening, “speaking the truth in love,” confidentiality, a sense of accountability—all defined, along with a sense of goals and process, in a foundational covenant.

Drawing upon 35+ years of experience in pastoral ministry (in a variety of settings and roles), gleanings from a wide variety of clergy conferences and retreats, and credentialing in spiritual formation and spiritual direction, I’d be honored and excited to companion with ministers (both clergy and laity) in their journeys to greater faithfulness and fuller effectiveness in life and ministry.


Rev. Dr. Chuck Simmons

After 43 years of pastoring, finishing with an 18-year tenure as Senior Minister at Memorial Drive UMC in Houston, I retired in 2016 and began part-time work with the Vibrant Church Initiative of the Texas Conference.  Serving as Mentor and Coach, my new roles proved a productive employment of my skill-sets and learnings from years of experience leading large congregations, plus a helpful one for the clergy and churches I partnered with.  So, I am pleased to offer my time and talents now as a Ministry Specialist to continue this enjoyable service. 

Blessed to work alongside and lead large staffs for decades, I feel equipped with the experience and expertise to help others chart and navigate the roller-coaster journey toward effective church leadership today. That is especially true with clergy, having enjoyed over 30 ordained Associates as colleagues, plus chaired the Texas and Louisiana Boards of Ordained Ministry.  I know each pastor is uniquely-gifted and heavenly-fashioned for God's chosen missions, so the job of a coach or mentor must be specific in style and content to each situation and client.  I simply welcome the chance to enter into covenant relationships wherein my responsibility is to offer a trained ear to listen, honest responses, emotional support, new perspective, and practical guidance to whatever is presented at whatever level desired.  By grace, such helps us to move forward in faithfulness together as spiritual leaders of Christ's Church. 

Rev. Heather Sims

Rev. Heather Sims, MDiv. is currently serving as the Lead Pastor at Cornerstone United Methodist Church, in Houston Texas.  She holds degrees from Texas Tech University and Asbury Theological Seminary and has served in a variety of ministry roles within the Northwest Texas and Texas Annual Conferences. As a pastor, Heather is known for her love of people and passion for God’s offer of abundant life. The challenge of inviting people into God’s presence is what wakes her up every morning.  If ever you can’t find her, she’s probably catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee, digging in her garden, or planning the next adventure for her family. Heather and her husband, Jon have three sons: Noah, Daniel, and Michael.

Heather is known for her passion for Christ and her love for people. She leads relationally in a team-based ministry approach.  She is often heard saying that ministry is fun and fulfilling, if we aren't having fun or doing important work that is fulfilling most of the time, then we are doing something wrong. Listening, building trust, teamwork, communication, and buy-in are all parts of her strategy to lead relationally through good and even difficult times.

Rev. Bill Taylor

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.

Coaches help clergy clients trust their deep inner wisdom and knowledge of the context in which they are serving and set clear and accountable outcomes, while encouraging them along the way. Essentially, coaches help clergy stay focused on God-sized goals and lead with courage and resilience. Dr. Stutz is a certified coach through the Coach Training Alliance and is member of Houston Coaches (an ICF charter chapter). He has worked with UMC clergy in the Texas Annual Conference (individually and in cohort groups) since 2017. Providing individual coaching for clergy or a comprehensive church consultation process for congregations. 

Rev. Bill Taylor

Reverend Bill Taylor served five churches of multiple sizes, and two districts in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church before retiring in July 2016 after a 45-year career. In retirement Bill works as a clergy coach, intentional interim pastor, a CASA volunteer, and in his spare time, he pursues his hobbies reading, fly fishing, photography, gardening, hiking, running, and travel.

Reverend Taylor enjoys working with churches of all sizes, as well as clergy at different stages of their careers. Having served as a district superintendent in two districts, Bill understands the complexity of ministry in today’s world. He is passionate about helping pastors become more effective and churches more relevant and is willing to reach out where needed to help both clergy and congregations. 

Rev. Tom Teekell

Originally from Bossier City, LA, Tom Teekell received his BBA in Business Analysis from Texas A&M University and his MDiv from Brite Divinity School. Tom served a two-point charge in seminary (1992-1996), served Kilgore College Wesley Foundation as its first full-time campus minister (1996-1998), served as the campus minister at SFA in Nacogdoches for 21 years (1998-2019), and now continues to serve SFA Wesley as the Executive Director (2019-present).  He received the Texas Conference Eric Anderson Evangelism Award in 2006 for his work in campus ministry. Tom has served on multiple boards and task forces as a clergy including CF&A, the Conference Board of Trustees, and The Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry.

As a Ministry Specialist for Clergy Mentoring, Tom has mentored over 50 college students into ordained ministry and still mentors many of them after their ordination. Most of Tom’s mentoring comes from mentoring young pastors to help them navigate the personal and professional challenges of being a pastor.  In addition, as a certified personal financial coach through Dave Ramsey Ministries and one who has hundreds of CEUs in church and clergy taxes, Tom can help clergy tackle personal financial planning.  

Rev. Dr. Chappell Temple

C. Chappell Temple serves as the lead pastor of Christ Church (UMC) in Sugar Land. An elder in the Texas Conference, he holds degrees from SMU (B.A. and B.F.A.), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Rice University (M.A. and Ph.D.) and has served as an adjunct faculty member at three seminaries, as well as the president of Lon Morris College. First elected to the delegation in 1988, Chappell served as a member of the group for 28 years, attending numerous jurisdictional and general conferences. He also currently serves as a director of the General Board of Church and Society. He and his wife Julie have two children and six grandchildren, half in Texas and half in England.

I have been blessed to serve in a variety of pastoral settings, including small town, suburban, and inner-city in both Houston and East Texas. With 47 years since my ordination, I think I’ve seen most everything that can happen in the life of a church. I’ve also been privileged to be a mentor to numerous clergy over the years and led in two study trips to Israel for younger clergy. I have a heart for God’s servants and believe pastors have one of the most difficult, but crucial, jobs in the world. However, I can help encourage pastors is where I feel God’s joy and favor.

Rev. Harry Vein

I have served in the Texas Annual Conference for the past 40 years, beginning ministry at my home church, Chapelwood UMC in Houston, I have also served FUMC Cleveland, FUMC Brenham, Cypress UMC and Faith UMC in Spring. Through my years of ministry, I have served on the Conference and District Boards of Ordained Ministry and was the Dean of Local Pastors School for the Annual Conference for 4 years. My greatest joys surround my family and people that I have connected with over the years. 

In serving as a mentor to clergy, I desire to help clergypersons strengthen their leadership skills and to strengthen them in their self-care, so that they can increase their effectiveness as pastors and leaders. Besides serving in ministry for close to 40 years, I have worked with Perkins School of Theology as a mentor to interns for almost the past 10 years. I look forward to developing mentoring relationships with clergy as we transform the world around us.

Rev. Dr. Steve Wende

Dr. Steve Wende is a native Texan, with degrees from the University of Texas, Yale Divinity School, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Of special relevance to the Ministry Specialist project is that his work at Princeton focused especially in the areas of leadership development, organizational growth, and role effectiveness. After serving smaller churches in south Texas, Steve went on to serve as pastor of University UMC of San Antonio for 21 years and First UMC of Houston for 15. He is married to Dr. Karin Wende, a church historian and Biblical scholar. They are the parents of Michelle Gebhart, who lives with her family in Virginia, and Rev. Meredith Mills, who lives and ministers with her family in Houston. Steve is now retired and enjoys traveling with Karin, spoiling the grandkids, and coaching pastors and leaders seeking to grow their ministries for the Kingdom.

Steve’s special concern is for those working through transitions in ministry, such as those experiencing a church expansion, a pastoral change, a financial crisis or a new congregational vision. Often, this means coaching the pastor or other leaders. It can also mean giving basic information on leadership development, role differentiation, team building and healthy change procedures not only to clergy, but also to staff and laity. Steve’s training and experience includes everything from leadership workshops to personal coaching to guiding lay leaders through change and systemic restructuring. Over the years, however, he has learned that along with any information given, his best approach as a coach is through supportive listening, learning, and encouragement. His goal is to walk with pastors and churches in a way which applies ministry best practices to the real-world dynamics, personalities and challenges involved in their setting, and to do so in a positive, effective, and uplifting way.

Rev. Irv White

Prior to answering the call to pastoral leadership in 2005, I spent twenty years as an Emmy Award winning television news and sports reporter and anchor in Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Texas, and Tennessee.

For nineteen years I served as Director of Marketing for Windsor Village UMC, ten of those years as an associate pastor.

I consider myself to be a pretty good storyteller with lots of DIY knowledge in graphic design, video production, and launching a virtual worship service.  If you are looking for creative ways to elevate the look and feel of your church among your members and the community I can probably help.

I believe that iron sharpens iron and that my experiences as a husband, father, associate pastor, and lead pastor can help you navigate whatever challenges you may be facing.

Rev. Marilyn White

Rev. White is an Elder in Full Connection as a member of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Rev. White entered ministry in the United Methodist Church in 1989, and served as associate pastor at her home church, Covenant Glenn UMC, Missouri City, Texas. She was appointed to her first church as senior pastor in 2005, and currently serves as senior pastor at Trinity East UMC, Houston, Texas.

Rev. White is committed to serving God and dedicated to following God’s lead. She has always cared deeply about the spiritual needs and growth of other. Through her ministry, people are empowered and liberated to fulfill their God-given destiny. She has a heart for being a change agent in whatever community God has placed her. She strongly believes "we are our brothers and sisters’ keeper.”

Rev. White currently serves as President for the Third Ward Community Cloth Fund Organization. She is a board member of the Emancipation Economic Development Council and participates with the Community Land Trust and Housing Development committee for this organization. She is a member of the Third Ward Assistance Ministries Task Force, the Trinity East Village CDC, and the Community Research Advisory Board for the Health Research Institute at the University of Houston.

Rev. White has served on many Conference and District boards and committees such as the Central South District Leadership Team, District Board of Ordained Ministry, and Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. She was the Chairperson for Certified Mentors, Conference Relations Chairperson and currently serves as a member of the Clergy Leadership Team.

Rev. White earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from LeTourneau University and a master’s degree in Divinity from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

Rev. White is married to Leroy White and has two children and four grandchildren who are the joy of her life.

Rev. Dr. Richard ‘Dick’ L. White

Richard White served 44 years as an elder under appointment in the Texas Annual Conference before retiring July 1, 2021.  During his career, he served primarily in the Houston area as the senior pastor of several mid to large size congregations.  Prior to his final appointment as the lead pastor of Katy First UMC, he served six years as the District Superintendent of the Southeast District of the Texas Annual Conference. Richard earned his Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.  He is married to Letica who is a psychotherapist in the Katy area. They have three daughters and three grandchildren.

Pastors are lifelong learners.  Some things can be learned by reading a book or attending a seminar but integrating what is learned into the practice of ministry is best done with a clergy mentor or coach.  As a clergy mentor, I have 44 years of pastoral experience leading churches.  I served eight years as a member of the conference board of ministry and mentored many candidates as they discerned their call and readiness for ordained or local pastor ministry. During my time as a District Superintendent, I supervised 50 pastors in the Southeast District, some of whom had tricky ministry challenges. I am familiar with Family Systems Theory and have taught seminars on the Enneagram, which is a helpful tool for personal and professional growth. I have a collaborative leadership style, and I am energized by working with pastors in ways that encourage, guide, and support them in their work of ministry.

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 church and clergy are family to Tommy, and he enjoys being able to listen and encourage clergy to operate out of the gifts they already possess rather than focus on who they wish they were, or think others want them to be.

Rev. Lawrence Young

Currently serving as Sr. Pastor of Klein UMC – Texas Conf. Additional Senior Pastor appointments include Warren Memorial UMC; Cascade UMC; Jones Memorial UMC; Abundant Life UMC – (new church start), District Superintendent of the Central South District. He received his Master of Divinity of Gammon Seminary @ ITC.

Rev. Young has 34 years of Pastoral Ministry, 6 years as District Superintendent, 20 plus years of “informal mentoring” of several successful Pastors currently serving the church, and years of serving in a multi-staff context with Associates looking to him for supervision.