Haircuts for Kids

How can a church help send students back to school on the right foot? At Journey of Faith United Methodist Church in Humble, Texas, it started with a great haircut. On Sundays last month, the church turned into a barber shop offering children in the community haircuts free of charge. The smiling faces that accompany each new haircut are well worth the effort, according to the Rev. Stephen Goldsmith (M.Div. ’17), the church’s pastor.  Read the story on the Texas Annual Conference website here.

Ed Gabrielsen Called

The search committee of First Congregational Church in Searsport, Maine, has announced that the church has called the Rev. Ed Gabrielsen (M.Div. ’20) as pastor beginning Oct. 1.  A vote by the congregation on Sept. 12 confirmed the calling. The committee wrote in the church’s newsletter: “Ed impressed all of us from the beginning. The more we learned about him—first from the many highly complimentary letters of recommendations from pastors and professors, and then from several phone and in-person conversations—the more we became convinced that he was the perfect match for our congregation.”  Gabrielsen says that the support of Perkins professors and staff – while he was a student and after he graduated – were key. “Finding a church job is not easy, especially for someone like me who is older,” he said. “But I had tremendous help from everyone at Perkins. This was an unexpected benefit of my education there, and I am very grateful. I thank God every day that I was led to Perkins for my seminary training.”

Chavarria Named Worship Leader

Carrie Chavarria (M.S.M.) has been promoted to director of worship effective July 15 at First United Methodist Church, Dallas. She has extensive experience in UM churches in coordinating and facilitating worship. In an email announcing the new role, senior minister Dr. Andrew Stoker (M.Div. ’01) said that Chavarria will be responsible for continuing to build “an intentional culture of hospitality, and curating spaces for worship that allow one’s mind, body and spirit to experience God’s grace and unconditional love.”

Chaplain at Children’s Health

Cassidy Wohlfarth (M.Div. ’17) was recently featured as part of the North Texas Giving Day campaign for Children’s Health in Dallas, where she serves as chaplain for spiritual care and education. “As a chaplain, I often meet heart transplant patients during the transplant evaluation process,” she said. “I’m part of the pre-transplant assessment, and that’s my favorite time because I get a dedicated 30 minutes with families. I’m glad that I’m a safe space for people to wonder with and to help make meaning from those big life questions.  Read the feature here.

Creating Beautiful Objects for Worship 

The Rev. Evan Jones (M.C.M. ’12) was recently featured in a North Texas Annual Conference news article about how his woodworking and welding skills are furthering his church’s ministry. Jones creates beautiful new furnishings for others – such as the cross and pulpit for the contemporary worship space at Grace Avenue UMC in Frisco. Most recently, he created an entire set of liturgical furnishings – a cross, pulpit, communion table and baptismal font – for the newly renovated upper room at First UMC Dallas. The space will serve as home for The Collective, which he describes as “a new experience where all people, regardless of where they are on their faith journey, can come together and feel the love of God and connection to neighbor through worship, conversation and learning.” The first gathering took place Sept. 12. The launch of The Collective is one of the initiatives that Jones has shepherded in his new role as Associate Minister for Emerging Ministries at First UMC Dallas. “For me, it’s about drawing people together around a common table, around a baptismal font that doesn’t look like any other font we’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s about the act of creating as a divine act and fostering that sense of community.” Read the story here.

Food, Faith and Freedom

The Rev. Yvette R. Blair-Lavallais (M.Th. ’13) was recently asked to write an article for Bread for the World: “On Faith: Black August, food freedom and liberation.” The August 9 piece follows her appearance at “Conversations with the White House,” a Bread for the World event in July, when she appealed to the Biden Administration to partner with churches in North Texas to combat food insecurity with a pilot program.

“We must join the struggle for access to a fresh, healthy, and affordable diet for all people as well as access to culturally specific foods,” she wrote. “Dismantling interlocking systems of marginalization and oppression is critical to our health and healing.” Blair-Lavallais is a food justice activist, public theologian, and pastor living in Dallas, and is currently pursuing a D. Min. at Memphis Theological Seminary.

New Novel by Jason Nelson

Hello Woodlands recently interviewed Jason J. Nelson (M.Div. ’13) to discuss his recently released debut novel, The Life of the Party. Nelson is lead pastor at Rose Hill United Methodist Church and an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference. Nelson invites readers to come to faith in Christ as they delve within the pages of his new spiritually inspirational book, published by WestBow Press, that highlights the life, light and love Jesus gives. Check out the book on Amazon.

Compassionate Conversation

Charles Barker (M.T.S. ’14) served as co-host of a recent online event, “Conversations on Compassionate Leadership.” Barker is founder of Compassionate Dallas/Fort Worth and chair of the governance committee and board of trustees for the International Charter for Compassion. Joining him in the conversation was Rakhee Sharma, Education India Lead at Charter for Compassion and founder of Showers of Compassion.

Pastor reflects on COVID experiences

Rev. Chris Yost (M.Div. ’04), senior pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church in Greenville, Texas, recently shared his account of praying with COVID patients, their families and caregivers at a local hospital. He visits the hospital twice a week to pray over patients and with family and staff. He wrote, “If you take nothing else from this, know this: Our healthcare providers are walking through the valley of the shadow of death every day, every hour, for months on end.” Read the story on the North Texas Conference website here.

King selected as Director of Ministerial Excellence

The Rev. Dr. Jacqui King (M.Div. ’04), a veteran in leadership development within The United Methodist Church, has been selected as the Illinois Great Rivers Conference’s Director of Ministerial Excellence. King is an elder in the Texas Annual Conference and began her new responsibilities Sept. 16. Most recently, King served Discipleship Ministries as its director of U.S. connectional relationships. In her new position, King will work to create a “one-stop shop” guiding clergy, spanning the time between entry into the ordination/licensing process to retirement. Read the announcement on the Illinois Great Rivers Conference website here.

Obit: The Rev. Allen Snider

The Rev. Allen Wesley Snider (M.Div. ’96) died August 27. Snider became a United Methodist Lay Speaker in 1985. After working for Texas Instruments in Sherman, Texas, from 1973 until 1989, he attended Perkins and became an ordained United Methodist elder. He served United Methodist churches in Gainesville, Ector, Mulberry, Krum, Sherman, Winnsboro, Pottsboro, Whitewright and Sivells Bend. He is survived by his wife Judy. A Celebration of Life was held Sept. 26 at Lakeway United Methodist Church in Pottsboro; in lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the church at P.O. Box 240, Pottsboro, Texas 75076. Cards may be sent to Judy Snider at 7775 FM 901, Whitesboro, Texas 76273.

Obit: Taylor Scott Boone

The Rev. Taylor Scott Boone (M.Div. ’08) died at age 72 on September 15 in San Antonio from complications of Covid-19, despite being fully vaccinated.  He held a J.D. degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was a respected estate planning attorney. In 2008, he was ordained a deacon in the United Methodist Church. He served at Travis Park Church where his ministry focused on serving the unhoused, the poor, the marginalized, the lost and the least through Corazon Ministries. After his retirement from active ministry, he served the United Methodist Church at the District and Conference levels. He was also the chief architect of the partnership that created Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Methodist Healthcare System — “the founding father of the Methodist Healthcare family in South Texas,” according to his obituary. He is survived by his wife, Alison Wenger Boone.  A memorial service was held on October 2 at Travis Park Church with Bishop Robert Schnase and the Rev. Eric Vogt officiating.  Read his obituary in UMNews here.