St. Paul’s Pastoral Transition


A Note from the CHAIR OF St. PAul’s SPRC

Rev. Dr. Jeff McDonald and his wife Lenee McDonald

Rev. Dr. Jeff McDonald and his wife Lenee McDonald

April 26, 2019

On behalf of your Staff Parish Relations Committee, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Rev. Dr. Jeff McDonald as senior pastor to St. Paul's United Methodist Church, beginning July 1, 2019. 

Jeff currently serves as senior pastor of First UMC in Nacogdoches and as chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry for the Texas Annual Conference. He is a native Houstonian, and his wife Lenee is from Lufkin. Their daughter Bailey is a recent graduate of Centenary College. Over the course of his 20 years in pastoral ministry, Jeff has served as executive associate pastor at Christ UMC in Sugar Land with Rev. Dr. Tom Pace and at several other churches in the Texas Annual Conference. Click to read Jeff's bio.

In our conversation with Jeff and Lenee, the SPRC was pleased to learn of Jeff's numerous connections to St. Paul's. Of particular note, Jeff's first church job was at Cokesbury UMC where he was hired by Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston as part-time youth director. While in college, he served as a youth intern at First UMC Shreveport where Rev. Dr. John Fellers was the senior pastor.

Jeff will lead St. Paul's into the next season of our church's ministry with grace and humility and trust. He will challenge each of us to step up and serve as we strive to be a cathedral for the city

Throughout this appointment process, the SPRC was privileged to read your comments and share your input with Bishop Scott Jones and District Superintendent Jesse Brannen to inform who would be assigned to St. Paul's. Most significantly, we thank you for your prayers for us, for our new and current pastor, and for our beloved church. Please join us in affirming our membership vows: to uphold St. Paul's with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness

In this time of transition, we continue to express our gratitude for the ministry of Rev. Tommy Williams and his family these past six years. As he announced earlier this month, Tommy has been appointed to be the senior pastor of Trinity UMC in Beaumont. 

More details will come in the near future regarding Jeff and Lenee's first Sunday with us this summer. In the meantime, please reach out to us with ways you might help us celebrate the ministry of Tommy and Bethany Williams and welcome the ministry of Jeff and Lenee McDonald.

Very truly yours,

Ashlee Ross, Chair of SPRC


April 13
Senior pastor Rev. Tommy Williams announces he will be leaving St. Paul’s and moving to Trinity UMC in Beaumont (read email to the congregation)

April 17
Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) invites input on ideal qualities of a new senior pastor to share with Texas Annual Conference leadership for consideration in the appointment process.

April 26
St. Paul’s SPRC announces new senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeff McDonald (read email to the congregation)

June 2
Farewell Lunch at 12:15 pm for Rev. Tommy Williams and his family on their last Sunday at St. Paul’s. More details.

July 7
Welcome Reception at 12:15 pm for incoming senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeff McDonald. Meet and greet with light refreshments.

CONTACT THE SPRC with YOUR Questions or Input

SPRC chair: Ashlee Ross. SPRC members: Michael Barrett, Denise Childres-Ansell, Jeff Klemm, Sandy Leffler, Courtney Pope, David Smith, Bryan Stotler, Aristides Trifilio, Jimmy Wanner, and Lacey Webster

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About the Appointment Process

In The United Methodist Church, clergy appointments are made annually by the bishop, who has the responsibility for setting all the pastoral appointments in the conference. This unique system of assigning itinerant clergy dates back to John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement. This is not the type of system where the church "calls" or "hires" its pastor.

The Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) consults with the district superintendent and communicates if they desire a change in pastoral leadership. Pastors also can indicate whether they wish to stay at their current appointments, wish to move to another appointment, or have no preference. However, they are not assured that they will get their first choice. Pastors in The United Methodist Church agree to serve where sent and to accept and abide by the appointments.

The bishop and the cabinet (all district superintendents in the conference) look at appointment needs throughout the conference, taking into consideration the needs of each church, the gifts and talents of each pastor, and other circumstances in the conference. They then determine the appointments for each church in the conference.

The chair of the SPRC or your district superintendent can answer questions and address any concerns you have about your pastor receiving a new appointment.

Adapted from