Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett announces Cabinet-level appointment changes


Today North Alabama Conference Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and the Cabinet have announced full-time clergy appointment changes to take effect this summer. Among these changes are several on the Conference Leadership Team.

Rev. Donald Smith

Rev. Donald Smith will become the Superintendent of the Southeast District. Rev. Smith currently serves as Executive Director of Ethnic Ministries and Senior Pastor of Center Grove UMC in Huntsville. In addition to his District Superintendent responsibilities, he will continue to oversee the Conference priority of Ethnic Ministries.

I am excited about my new role as the Southeast District Superintendent,” Rev. Smith says. “I want to thank Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and the Appointive Cabinet for their confidence in my gifts and graces to serve in this capacity. I also want to thank Rev. Dr. Lewis Archer for laying such a solid foundation for ministry in the District. I am looking forward to meeting all of the pastors, laity and friends in the District. With God’s Spirit and guidance, we will continue to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Rev. Smith has served as Executive Director of Ethnic Ministries since 2018 and pastor of Center Grove UMC since 2009. Prior to coming to North Alabama, he served in the Alabama-West Florida Conference including as associate pastor of St. Francis Street in Mobile; pastor of Eight Mile; associate pastor of Shalimar; and pastor of Toulminville-Warren Street in Mobile. He is a graduate of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina and Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Current Southeast District Superintendent Dr. Lewis Archer will become the senior pastor of Mountain Chapel UMC (South Central District).

Rev. Suzanne Katschke

Rev. Suzanne Katschke will join the Conference Leadership Team as Executive Director of New Church. She will also continue her role as co-pastor of Heritage UMC (Northeast District).

Rev. Katschke comes to her new role as an experienced church planter in the North Alabama Conference. She has helped start multiple new churches, including Heritage UMC, and has past experience as a member of the Conference New Church Operational Team. She previously served as co-pastor of CrossWinds UMC and as associate pastor of Good Shepherd UMC. She is a graduate of Black Hills State University in South Dakota and the University of Alabama. She earned her Master of Divinity from Sewanee School of Theology.

“I did not become a Christian until the age of 30,” Rev. Katschke says. “My own wonder and excitement over a relationship with Christ have always fueled my desire to help others come to know Christ. My entire ministry has involved planting and serving new churches. The principles of church planting aren’t just for new churches, they can help all churches become more effective. Helping pastors develop a planter mindset is critical in our efforts to make disciples. In today’s rapidly changing ministry context, we must continually innovate and activate new strategies to reach more people for Christ. I am humbled and excited to be given the opportunity to live out my passion by serving our churches, pastors and conference."

Current Executive Director of New Church Dr. Robin Scott will become the Executive Pastor of Asbury UMC in Madison (Northeast District).

Dr. Rick Owen

Dr. Rick Owen, Superintendent of the Central District, will expand his role to also become Superintendent of the South Central District.

“I look forward to the challenge of serving as the Superintendent of the South Central District and continuing to serve as the Superintendent of the Central District." Rev. Owen says. “As our church environment is rapidly changing around us our Cabinet and myself included look forward to new and creative ways the clergy, laity, and superintendents of our districts will maximize opportunities for ministry and maintain a strong connection between the conference and our local churches and pastors."

Rev. Owen is a graduate of Jacksonville State University and Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta. He earned a Doctor of Ministry from Beeson Divinity School, Samford University in Birmingham. During his ministry he has served churches from 15 members to 4800 members. Those congregations include Spring Garden UMC, Craig Memorial UMC, Alexandria UMC, Christ UMC-Albertville, Scottsboro First UMC (Associate), Canterbury UMC (Associate), Huffman UMC and Trinity UMC in Huntsville. He also has served as an Associate Director of the North Alabama Conference Council on Ministries and as the Director of Strategic Ministry with Resource Ministry Partners at the United Methodist Foundation of North Alabama.

Current South Central District Superintendent Dr. Bill Morgan is retiring after serving appointments since 1971. He looks forward to continuing to find ways to serve the church.

Bishop Wallace-Padgett says, “My prayers are with churches and clergy involved in this year’s moves. Saying goodbye to a beloved pastor or church is hard anytime — and doubly so in the midst of a pandemic.

“I am grateful to the appointive cabinet for their prayerful and wise discernment about North Alabama appointments. I am inspired by their tireless service on behalf of the clergy and churches of the North Alabama Conference.”

These appointments, along with the other full-time appointments announced today, are currently scheduled to become effective on July 1, 2020. This date is subject to change if in the coming weeks it is deemed wise to do so for further COVID-19 mitigation.

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