Bishop Names Key Leaders In New Unified Conference

Four newly named department heads will lead teams built around five strategic priorities

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., episcopal leader of the Central and North Texas Annual Conferences of The United Methodist Church, named six clergy and laity to leadership positions for the new unified conference, to become fully operational by January 1, 2025. Informed by church organizational consultant reports, the Central, North and Northwest Texas cabinets, in collaboration with cross-conference unification teams and leaders, have developed a new conference structure designed to Multiply Jesus Followers, Champion Children and Youth, Maximize Care and Healing, Pursue and Embrace Diversity and Tell Our Story.

Individuals named to lead departments within the new conference are:

Rev. Joy Dister-Dominguez, Director of Care and Healing

Rev. Joy Dister-Dominguez is an associate pastor at Keller UMC in the Central Texas Conference and national team leader for The Caring Congregation, which teaches church leaders a scalable team approach and system to care ministry. She had an extensive career in hotel management for almost 10 years before answering her call to ordained ministry in 2012. Dister-Dominguez is from Southern Michigan and received her Bachelor of Science in communications from Eastern Michigan University. Her appointment as director of care and healing will begin July 1, 2024.

Joy Dister-Dominguez and Pam Hughes

Pam Hughes, Director of Communications

Pam Hughes has served as director of communications for the North Texas Conference since January 2022, leading internal and external communications strategy, including content development, social media and email marketing and media relations. Before joining the NTC, Hughes worked for over 15 years in Dallas and Washington, D.C., providing communications counsel for leading brands and personalities, including corporate and nonprofit executives and a former U.S. president. Her role with the new conference officially begins August 1, 2024.

Rev. Dr. Owen Ross, Director of Multiplication 

Rev. Dr. Owen Ross currently serves as director of the North Texas Conference’s Center for Church Development, where he leads efforts to equip and engage local congregations as they gather new faces in new spaces for spiritual formation in the Wesleyan tradition. As director of multiplication, Ross will oversee strategy and resourcing for church vitality, lay and clergy leadership development and new church/ministry planting across the unified conference. His appointment will begin July 1, 2024.

Owen Ros and KEvin Walters

Dr. Kevin Walters, Director of Operations 

In 2014, Dr. Kevin Walters joined the Central Texas Conference as director of the Center for Leadership, and since 2018, has served as CTC’s operations and project management director. In his current role, Walters provides invaluable resourcing for local congregations, manages CTC’s property and physical facilities and leads special projects. As director of operations in the new conference, he will manage conference properties, build effective conference processes and implement information technology systems to enhance the conference’s effectiveness and efficiency. His new role will take effect March 1, 2024.
“As our three conferences unite, we must have strong, forward-thinking leaders to help support a high-performing organizational culture that will drive missional growth and impact,” said Bishop Saenz. “These four directors bring valuable experience from the local church, the cabinet room and the corporate world. Their gifts and expertise will enable us to expand and enhance our mission throughout the boundaries of our new annual conference in the most effective and efficient way possible. I look forward to working closely with them as we unite to support the local churches in their mission to multiply Jesus followers, champion children and youth, maximize care and healing, pursue and embrace diversity and tell our story.”

Stacey and Derek

In addition to the four extended cabinet-level positions, Saenz has also appointed two associate directors to positions within the new Multiplication Team. Rev. Stacey Piyakhun, currently lead pastor at Melissa UMC, will serve as associate director of multiplication. Rev. Derek Jacobs, currently lead pastor at The Village UMC, will serve as associate director of leadership. Their appointments take effect July 1, 2024.
The chief financial officer position has been posted to the three conference websites (here), and candidates are currently being received. Additional positions for the new conference will be posted as well, to be filled by individuals who have the knowledge, skills and passion to lead well.

More information about the unification process can be found here.

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2024