By: Karla Hovde
This year, 13 new clergy are starting their first appointment or are entering a new clergy role in the Minnesota Conference—some newly credentialed and some experienced. During the new clergy orientation earlier this week, each person was asked to introduce themselves to the rest of the conference. Here’s a look at these incoming leaders—what drew them here, what they’re excited about in their appointments, their spiritual gifts, what they appreciate about The United Methodist Church (UMC), and some fun facts about them.
Cassandra (Cassi) Betker
Appointed to: Forest Hills UMC, Forest Lake
Betker was born and raised in the UMC and appreciates the structure of the denomination. Her strongest spiritual gift is relationship building. She is a newly licensed local pasor and is moving from a quarter-time position into a three-quarter-time position as the associate pastor. Betker has also started a high school and college theater ministry at Forest Hills UMC.
Appointed to: Christ UMC, Cannon Falls and Stanton UMC
Countryman comes to us as a retired elder of the Wisconsin Conference; he moved to the Twin Cities to be closer to family. In this appointment, he looks forward to discovering what the church will become in a radically changing environment. His top spiritual gifts are preaching and teaching. After being raised Catholic and later becoming Baptist, he joined the UMC because it had been ordaining women since the 1950s. He is grateful that the Minnesota Conference is committed to full inclusion.
Appointed to: Bemidji UMC
Davis is looking forward to reminding people why and how they love each other and how to know God more deeply through teaching and example. She is a licensed local pasor. Exhortation is her top spiritual gift. What draws her to the UMC is its history of social justice, advocacy, and care for the total person. She appreciates that individuality and intellect is valued. She most wants people to know that there is no one on earth that she does not love.
Appointed to: Prospect Park UMC, Minneapolis
A lifelong United Methodist, Dennis was raised in Camphor Memorial UMC in St. Paul. As a licensed local pastor, he is excited to build community, serve people, and grow in Christ. His top spiritual gifts are teaching, discipleship, and evangelism. Dennis is a poet, a servant leader, a youth worker, an activist and community organizer, and a disciple. He loves that the UMC emphasizes discipleship and having a passion for the Gospel.
Appointed to: Life UMC, Eden Prairie
Doan is a newly licensed local pastor.
Appointed to: Hamline University, St. Paul (as chaplain and director of the Wesley Center)
Figueroa-Ray moved from Virginia to Minnesota originally to teach religion at St. Olaf College, and more recently started her role at Hamline University. She is a newly licensed local pastor and describes her strongest spiritual gift as persistence and relentlessness. The UMC was the first place that made Figueroa-Ray feel at home. She loves the balance between sacraments and Spirit-let movement. She also loves the theology of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, the connectional system, and the relationship between personal piety and structural justice.
Assigned to: Newport UMC and Community UCC, Newport
Kadue is looking forward to sharing the love of Jesus Christ in her pastoral role. She is a qualified lay pastor. She is attracted to the UMC because all people are welcome to love and serve the Lord. Her spiritual gift is creating spaces where all people can belong. She appreciates that in the UMC, we intentionally practice our discipline to care for and order the ministry of the church. Kadue is passionate about serving as an advocate for social justice and for God’s love in the world.
Beatrice (Bea) Mungania
Appointed to: Epworth UMC, Minneapolis
Mungania grew up in the Methodist church in Kenya and enjoyed the warmth, love, and compassion of the church members there who allowed her and her siblings to be fully engaged in the church. As a licensed local pastor, she looks forward to sharing Jesus and reaching out to new people in the neighborhood. Her spiritual gifts focus on spreading the love of God wherever she goes. Mungania most appreciates the mission and the connectional nature of the UMC. Mungania wants others to know that she is a people person.
Assigned to: Main Street UMC, North Branch
Nuessle is a lifelong Minnesotan. When he started attending a United Methodist Church in St. Paul, he realized what a great fit it was for him and his family. He is a qualified lay pastor. He looks forward to learning about the UMC and getting deeply involved in this congregation. Preaching and teaching are his top spiritual gifts. He loves the people in the UMC, and notes that the theology and structure fit him well. He looks forward to taking his experience in the Baptist church and combining it with all that makes the UMC great.
Appointed to: Hillcrest UMC, Bloomington
Pone was baptized and confirmed at Oakland Avenue UMC in Minneapolis (now Living Spirit UMC). As a newly licensed local pastor, he looks forward to growing the congregation and building a digital ministry. Spiritual leadership is his top spiritual gift. In the UMC, he loves the historical tradition and theology that flexes. Pone says he is a recovering investment banker and politician.
Appointed to: La Puerta Abierta, St. Paul
Rodriguez moved here from Houston, Texas. He has served in the UMC for the past 10 years and is moving to Minnesota along with his wife, who is studying at the University of Minnesota. He looks forward to serving God’s mission as he helps the church with outreach and discipleship. He is a licensed local pastor, and church planting is his top spiritual gift. The UMC’s love for un-churched people is what he most appreciates. Rodriguez loves to learn new things and is always finding ways to continue his learning journey.
Appointed to: Mora UMC
Roush was baptized at Taylors Falls UMC and has been part of both the Minnesota Conference and the Wisconsin Conference. As a licensed local pastor, he looks forward to helping create a vision for the church that brings people closer to Christ, whether worshiping in-person or virtually. His spiritual gift is sharing the love of Christ and celebrating the joy of fellowship through music. In the UMC, he loves being able to worship in a way that meets the needs of the community. Roush shares that God finds us all even when we least expect the calling. God patiently waited for him to answer his call for almost 30 years.
Appointed to: Annandale UMC and Montrose UMC
Schlasner is a newly licensed local pastor.
We are fortunate to have these leaders among us. Join us in welcoming each one to our conference and giving thanks to God for their ministry!
Karla Hovde is the communications specialist for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church