Ministry Center Welcomes New Staff, New Roles

Wright and Vela

Rev. Jessica Wright joins Center for Missional Outreach; Mariel Vela has new role in Center for Leadership Development

The North Texas Conference is pleased to announce new hires and new roles within the Ministry Center staff, taking effect July 1. Rev. Jessica Wright has been appointed to serve as the associate director of the Center for Missional Outreach (CMO), and Mariel Vela has been named ministerial services administrator in the Center for Leadership Development (CLD).

Wright currently serves as associate pastor at First UMC Allen, where she has coordinated missions and community advocacy opportunities, led discipleship ministry collaboration and has preached regularly.

“Jessica’s prior ministry experience and her heart for service make her just the right person for this role,” said Rev. Andy Lewis, assistant to the Bishop and director of the Center for Missional Outreach. “I’m looking forward to all that she will bring to the CMO and to our conference staff team.”

Jessica earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Arkansas and a Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. She was ordained an Elder in The United Methodist Church in 2011.

Jessica’s husband, Andy, is a saxophonist and leads the music faculty at Grayson College. Together they have two elementary-aged sons, James and Ethan.

For the past eight years, Vela has served as administrative assistant in the CLD. She recently graduated from Berklee College of Music online with an undergraduate degree and also serves part-time as the worship director at New World UMC in Garland.

In her new role as ministerial services administrator, Vela will provide administrative services and coordinate systems to assist the vocational discernment coordinator, candidates for ministry, District Committees on Ministry, Board of Ministry and the Annual Conference and General Conference connectional work.

“Mariel brings valuable experience, skills, gifts and abilities to this position.,” said Rev. Cammy Gaston, director of the Center for Leadership Development. “For years, the CLD has benefitted from her exceptional organizational skills and her attention to detail, and we know these will be key as she manages and implements new systems in this position.”

Vela and her husband, Tony, have served in worship ministries for the last 10 years at Oak Cliff UMC, Tyler Street UMC and Grace Chapel. In their spare time, they love writing and playing music, trying new restaurants, catching up on their shows and walking their dogs, Bubbles and Ollie.

Within the CLD, Kelly Carpenter will also expand her role as the vocational discernment coordinator, assisting candidates for ministry along their full journey.

Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2022