2023 Retirements

Rev. George H. Ayoub

Marlette: First UMC

The Lord has truly blessed me.  The road I have travelled over the past 39 years has been exciting, at times difficult, and always challenging.

PA: 1982 Glenside UMC Youth Director. As the


group grew in numbers I grew in faith. “The Call” into full time ministry. Tacony UMC, Philadelphia (1983).  Small congregation grew into community church. Challenges: A Cross burning, helped develop Philadelphia Police Clergy, and reaching out to community youth.

Camping: (1989) Director-Camping Ministries: Eastern PA Conference UMC. Challenges: use my finance, business, and education background to stabilize and grow ministry. Blessings: Programs stabilized, God blessed the ministry, added a fourth camp.

PA: 1982 Glenside UMC Youth Director. As the group grew in numbers I grew in faith. “The Call” into full time ministry. Tacony UMC, Philadelphia (1983).  Small congregation grew into community church. Challenges: A Cross burning, helped develop Philadelphia Police Clergy, and reaching out to community youth.

Camping: (1989) Director-Camping Ministries: Eastern PA Conference UMC. Challenges: use my finance, business, and education background to stabilize and grow ministry. Blessings: Programs stabilized, God blessed the ministry, added a fourth camp.

Michigan: (1995) Exec Dir Camping: Challenge: revitalize camping ministries of ELCA. God blessed the ministries and they stabilized.

Chaplain: Masonic Pathways Senior Living Services (1999). Blessings: pastor for 400 residents and 300 staff. God showed the power of prayer and how He works in and through any who seek Him.

God not finished: Camping: West Michigan Conference (2014). Leading 5 camps through a tough time into new growth. Blessed to help merge and form the camping corporation: MAUMC, leading 9 camps into a new age of ministry.

Marlette First UMC (2018-): God blessed the ministry and has grown the church family in numbers and faith.

Thanks to God for continued guidance, to my wife Elizabeth, for ongoing love, support and help, and children (Stephanie, Brandt, Kira) and their families, for patience over the years and never-ending love.

God is good… All the Time!

George H. Ayoub [(FE) D 1984; FE 1987]
1999 Masonic Pathways Senior Living Services, St. Johns; (2014 Transferred to WMC) 2014 Executive Director of Camps; 2015 Interim Executive Director of Camp, Michigan Area; 2018 Executive Director of Camping, Michigan; 2018 Marlette: First


Rev. Bradley S. Bartelmay

Holland: First UMC

In the 80s, when I started my ministry journey, I identified with Jonah. I still do.

Like Jonah, I was called to serve the Holy One, and like Jonah my initial response was to run away, crying over my shoulder, “Buddy,

I’m not him – you got me confused with some other guy." 

Like Jonah, who needed to be surrounded by folks who would toss him overboard so he would “dive” into his call, I too, with encouragement of friends, mentors, and family, dove deeper into my call. Like Jonah, in the fish’s belly, I have known the dark night of the soul, and like Jonah, I too have come out on the other side humbled/chastened/loved (hopefully, not too odorous) and ready to serve. Like Jonah, I have been a prophet

about the need for change, and like Jonah I have, as often as not, been a reluctant prophet.

Briefly, I want to thank my lovely wife Sherri, our sons, Ben, Tom and Sam, my parents, my family of origin and extended family. I wish to thank the congregations I served: Stevensville, 1990 - 1993; Bridgman: Faith from 1993 - 2000, New Buffalo: First (later Water’s Edge) from 1993 -2017 and Holland: First from 2017 – 2023. And not least of all, to all the people with whom I have shared this strange journey called ministry – some clergy, many laity – all of you have been a blessing. Thank you, it’s been a slice.

Finally, there’s this. Through it all, God was there. In the good times, God was there. In the challenging times, God was there. Just like Jonah, even when I couldn’t feel it, God was there. God is always there…

Bradley S. Bartelmay [(FE) FL 1990; D 1996; FE 2002]
1990 Stevensville (Assoc); 1993 New Buffalo, Bridgman: Faith; 2000 New Buffalo: Water’s Edge (name change 2012); 2017 Holland: First


Rev. Richard W. Blunt

Okemos Community Church

At my first full time appointment I followed 3 female pastors. I vividly remember a child’s jaw dropping as I entered the sanctuary. She turned to her mother and said, “I didn’t know a man could be a pastor!” My ministry is always punctuated with surprises, some good,

others challenging.

I was fortunate to play a part in a dozen people following their call into full time pastoral or lay ministry. I was honored to provide instruction on preaching and worship to beginning pastors through the License to Preach School. I enjoyed years as a camp counselor and dean with high schoolers at Lake Louise and mini-campers at Kinawind. At each congregation we built or remodeled, we added art and visuals, and used creativity to enhance worship. 

Beyond the   local church I served at district and conference levels.

I am grateful to God and the people of each congregation for these opportunities to assist people in connecting with God, deepening their faith, and finding ways to put their faith in action to make a difference.

Early on, more experienced leaders offered me opportunities to serve and lead within the conference. I am now ready to confidently turn over spiritual leadership to so many excellent younger clergy colleagues.

Experience taught me: when transporting someone unstable, use child-lock doors; don’t experiment with new communion bread on Easter; turn off your mic before blowing your nose; use suspenders with a Santa costume; have fun and laugh at yourself; trust the next generation.

Richard W. Blunt [(FE) D 1985; FE 1998]
1986 Ogdensburg (Old Mission Peninsula); 1993 Manton; 1999 Reed City; 2008 Lowell: First; 2014 Okemos Community Church


Rev. Jerome R. DeVine

Mid-Michigan District Superintendent

“Go from your country and kindred … to the land that I will show you.”  These words flooded my mind as my wife Ruth and I drove away from our home in Watertown, South Dakota back in 1978.  While we have never been Abram or Sarai, and have not blessed

nations, it became clear to me early in my responding to my call to ordained ministry that I would be asked to be a sojourner for Christ in and through the United Methodist Church.  It was and is a call to cross boundaries, create pathways and build bridges.  This has taken me across multiple conferences, jurisdictions, countries, continents and cultures.

The journey included serving four distinct and beloved local churches beginning in 1981.  Yet my particular gifts and calling drew me into the fabric of our United Methodist 

connection.  First Corinthians 12 is a constant image for me of the living body of Christ and an allegory for how our unique denomination is interwoven like that body.  My work on two different general agency boards, strategic general agency and conference staff roles, two appointments as a district superintendent and collaborative work across the jurisdiction have allowed me to try to help the connective tissue of the body be flexible and healthy so that the body can fulfill its purpose.

After 42 years under appointment, I step into a new phase of life and ministry.  My thanks to Ruth, the Michigan Conference, the UM connection and to God for this opportunity.

Jerome R. DeVine [(FE) PD 1984 (N. Dakota); FE 1987 (Peninsula-Delaware); transfer to W.MI 1999]
1984 Cambridge MD, Grace; 1981 Wilmington DE; 1985 St. Paul’s: (Assoc); Newark DE, Kingswood; 1993 Coordinator for Mission Leaders, General Board of Global Ministries; 1995 Chestertown MD, First; 1999 transfer to W.MI Conf, Ministry Consultant; 2004 Albion District Superintendent; 2009 Director of Connectional Ministries; 2014 transfer to Detroit Conference; 2018 Lansing District Superintendent; 2019 Mid-Michigan District Superintendent


Rev. Rodney K. Diggs

Madison Heights UMC

Rodney K. Diggs [(PL) PL 2020]
(formerly at Jackson Parish, TN; Tennessee Conference); 2020 Madison Heights: First (½) 


Rev. Robert W. Dister

Clayton UMC, Rollin Center UMC

Robert W. Dister [(FL) FL 2012]
2012 Clayton, Rollin Center

Rev. Robert J. Easlick

Linden UMC

I have had wonderful opportunities to serve in really good churches.  God has been very good to my family and myself.  But unfortunately do to needing some growth in some areas, I went on Honorable 

Location for many years before coming back into ministry.  Thanks to our Bishop and that wonderful DS, Rev. Hice, I have served at a church I consider the cream of the crop—Linden UMC, in Linden, MI. 

Four years after going on Honorable Location God took me 

into an area where the growth that was truly needed took place.  For 13 years I have served at one of the very best hospices in the State of Michigan: Hospice of Michigan and Arbor Hospice as a Spiritual/Emotional Care Advisor.  These 13 years taught me many valuable things about myself and working with all types of people…it’s made me into a much, much better pastor. 

I look forward to spending more time with my four children, their spouses (my bonus children) and our 7 grandchildren.  I also look forward to continued service for Christ at Linden UMC as their pastor.  Again, special thanks to Bishop Bard and Rev. John Hice who believed in me, and my ministry potential.

Robert J. Easlick [(HL) P 1986; F 1989; HL 2004]
1987 Calumet, Mohawk-Ahmeek; 1990 Laingsburg, Middlebury; 1993 Whitemore Lake: Wesley; 2001 incapacity leave; 2002 Blissfield: Emmanuel; 2004 Honorable Location; 2020 Linden (ad interim)


Rev. Donald J. Emmert

Director of Benefits and Human Resources

During the spring of my sophomore year in high school, I remember watching with a certain sense of impatience, my much older senior friends as they prepared to graduate. I 

envisioned with great anticipation the day when that would be me. I have felt similar emotions in recent years while watching many of my contemporaries retire. Nevertheless, as I prepare to soon join them, the realization of this graduation into perpetual senior status has a strangely different feel to it.

Beginning with my first clergy appointment in 1984, I pledged two things that I have continued at every stop along the journey.

  • Pledge #1: I promise to give the best I have to offer from the first day of my appointment through my last.

In these waning moments of active service, I have tried to hold true to this promise, regardless of circumstance and/or the level of realized accomplishment. At the end of the day, I am confident I will ultimately achieve the first of these two pledges, whatever the final grade may turn out to be. My family, colleagues, congregants, and friends have been instrumental in this endeavor along every ministry setting, for which I am ever grateful.

  • Pledge #2: After I retire, I plan to sink into oblivion.

Regardless of how easy or difficult the first pledge has proven to be over several decades; I have no doubt I will successfully achieve this second pledge in glorious fashion. Until we meet again…. God bless you.

Donald J. Emmert [(FE) P 1983; F 1986]
1984 Ontonagon, Greenland, Rockland; 1990 Pinconning; 1995 New Baltimore: Grace; 2000 North Central Macomb Regional Ministry: Mt. Vernon (assoc); 2001 Treasurer’s Office Staff; 2003 Conference Benefits Administrator (¾), Associate Treasurer (¼); 2006 Conference Benefits Officer; 2017 Michigan Area Benefits Officer; 2018 Director of Benefits and Human Resources; 2020 Director of Benefits and Human Resources and interim Director of Admin Services and Conference Treasurer; 2022 Director of Benefits and Human Resources   

Rev. Mark R. Erbes

Holt UMC

I am grateful for the privilege of serving for 29 years in appointed ministry—three as a student pastor in the West Ohio Conference and 26 in the West Michigan and now Michigan Conference.  Each of our 

five appointments has been a blessing for Annette and me and our kids as they were growing up.  I have been humbled by the opportunity to serve alongside so many faithful and committed laypersons.  There is no doubt that I have learned far more from them about sacrificial discipleship than they ever learned from me.  We have also appreciated the Bishops and District Superintendents who have been so supportive of us over the years.  But I owe the greatest debt of gratitude to Annette, Megan, and Matthew, for they began family life thinking their spouse and father was to be a life-long public school teacher. Then God came calling, and they shared in itinerant ministry always with faith and courage as we lived out the journey together.  Now Annette and I look forward in retirement to spending more time with our kids’ families as well as the chance to explore new ministry opportunities. 

Mark R. Erbes [(FE) D 1996; FE 2000]
1996 West Ohio Conference, Faith Community (Assoc), Xenia OH (¶426.1-1992 Discipline); 1997 Mt. Pleasant: First (Assoc); 2001 Constantine; 2007 Muskegon: Lake Harbor; 2014 Holt 

Rev. Robert F. Fuchs

DownRiver UMC

I am retiring from vocational ministry after only six and one-half years.  However, I am not retiring from ministry and will continue to serve God and others. 

My thanks and appreciation goto all the laity and clergy who guided me on this journey.  You showed me how to minister to those around me, how to use my spiritual gifts and talents, and how to embrace others with the love of Jesus Christ.  And an extra shout out to those clergy colleagues who rode the van to MTSO for Course of Study.  I learned as much on the trips down and back as I did in class. 

My first appointment was at my home church, First United Methodist Church of Brighton and Whitmore Lake.  The congregation embraced and supported my move from pew to pulpit.  Their love and encouragement strengthened me and allowed me to grow.  Serving as the Campus Pastor at the Whitmore Lake Campus gave me my initial experience in leading a church.  This experience came in handy when I was appointed to DownRiver Church in Taylor.  As Sue and I say farewell to the DownRiver community, know that you hold a special place in our hearts.  You are a welcoming, vibrant, outward focused community of faith.  You show the love of Christ to everyone you meet.  We will miss you and pray that your impact in the name of Christ will continue for years to come.

Robert F. Fuchs [(FL) FL 2017]
2017 Brighton: First – Whitemore Lake Campus (assoc); 2020 DownRiver


Rev. Patricia A. Haas

Keswick UMC

As I reflect on the past 20 years, I thank God for blessing me with Pokagon UMC (2003-2011) and Keswick UMC (2011-2023). Sharing in ministry and building relationships with each of them has been a responsibility

and privilege I will always cherish. I am also grateful that the Lord placed mentors, colleagues, and family in my life to help me in so many ways. While there

are too many to mention within the denomination and beyond, THANK YOU!  My husband, Tom and my mother, Anne are no longer with me, yet each of their unconditional love and support were God’s beacon of light to me in so many ways for so many years.

I’m uncertain where my next chapter in life will take me. But I do know that I want to continue to be a disciple of Christ and to continue doing God’s work (after a short rest period) in whatever ways the Holy Spirit leads me. So I’ll be keeping my ears open for that “still small voice,” and my eyes and heart open to people and circumstances that God will certainly bring into my life.

May God’s blessings be abundant in all of yours lives, Rev. Patricia a Haas

12 I know there is nothing better for us than to be joyful and to do good throughout our lives; 13 to eat and drink and see the good in all of our hard work is a gift from God.  Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 (VOICE)

Patricia A. Haas [(FE) PL 2003; PE 2011; FE 2014]
2003 Pokagon; 2011 Keswick  

Rev. David L. Haase

Riverside UMC

I became a pulpit fill at Breedsville United Methodist Church on July 1, 2007, through December 31, 2007. January of 2008 I became a certified candidate for ministry and became a pulpit fill for both 

Breedsville and Townline United Methodist Churches. On July 1, 2008, I received the appointment to both churches as a Licensed Local Pastor. July 1, 2014 I became the pastor of Riverside United Methodist church where I remain. Leaving a job making over $80,000.00 annually for $100.00 weekly seemed foolish to many people. My calling was a spiritual calling. A calling where I trusted God and never looked back. Oh! God is good, all the time and all the time God is good.

The greatest attribute for serving all churches is serving God’s people. Being a servant of God’s people is the greatest honor that I have had. Serving people is what has given me the strength to remain strong, at heart, in pastoral ministry.  

My greatest sadness is losing my partner in ministry…my beautiful wife Linda Haase. She has been my strength. Rest well Linda.

God loves you and so do I!

David L. Haase [(PL) PL 2008]
2008 Townline (PTLP ¼) and Breedsville (PTLP ¼); 2014 Riverside (PTLP ¼) and Coloma (Assoc) (PTLP ¼); 2016 Riverside) PTLP ¼)


Rev. John H. Hice

East Winds District Superintendent

The wonder of God’s call to ordained ministry has shaped my life, from Christ’s first working in my heart as a child and through my long struggle of resistance. I was reawakened through the challenge 

back to faith made by Laura, my young love who was to become my wife. From then, Christ Jesus became my center of and my vision. God continued to shape me through my discernment and acceptance of the call and my journey through the decades. I am a child of the Detroit Conference, nurtured in the womb of Dearborn: First Methodist. Their confirmation of the outward call in 1975 was an act of grace and hope. My theological and pastoral skills were sharpened by gifted faculty and students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Deacon’s Ordination under the hand of Bishop Loder in 1976 was a moment of empowerment. Elder’s Ordination by the hand of Bishop Ammons impressed on me a weight of responsibility which I have ever felt. Appointments to Kalamazoo: Millwood, Hartford, Traverse City: Asbury, Grand Rapids District Superintendency, Northville: First, Royal Oak: First, and Crossroads/East Winds District Superintendency have each been valuable gifts forming my spirit. It has been a joy to serve, an incredible honor.

I look forward to more time with Laura, who has been my confidant, consultant, and partner throughout this ministry journey. Retirement will not mark the end of ministry but be an easing in life’s tempo and a turning to more specific expressions of ministry.

John H. Hice [(FE) P 1976; F 1980 W.MI]
1977 Kalamazoo: Millwood (Assoc); 1978 trans. to W.MI conf; 1979 Hartford; 1987 Traverse City: Asbury; 1995 Grand Rapids District Superintendent; 2000 trans. to Detroit Conference, Northville: First; 2008 Royal Oak: First; 2016 Crossroads District Superintendent; 2019 East Winds District Superintendent 

Rev. Randell J. Hitts

Charlevoix UMC

In 2016, I started the journey of pastoral ministry with my wife, Susan, when our District Superintendent Anita Hahn took a chance on us. She moved us out of the pew of our home church,

Alanson UMC, and placed us into the pulpit.

Susan and I soon went to licensing school together and became official licensed local pastors. In 2017, I was blessed to be   

appointed to Charlevoix UMC where I am now finishing my 6th year.

My experience of being the hands and feet of Jesus has been some of the most rewarding times of my life. While leading a church is never easy, navigating through the pandemic was a different type of challenge! I was excited to learn new skills such as video producing and live streaming for a new type of ministry connection. I was also pleased to use that time to complete my COS requirements.

I am so grateful to people at Charlevoix UMC and to the two District Superintendents that I served under, Anita and Jodie. They supported me and helped me to grow as a pastor.

I want to thank my wife and family who walked with me through this time of pastoral ministry. I look forward to spending more time with my children, Angela, Teresa, Sarah, Elise, David, and Kate. I also hope to visit my grandchildren: Damon, Gracelynn, Elizabeth, and Asher soon.

Retirement is a new phase, but ministry continues…. I can’t wait to see where God will lead me next!

Randell J. Hitts [(PL) CC 2017; PL 2017]
2017 Charlevoix


Rev. Patricia A. Hoppenworth

Dryden UMC

Patricia A. Hoppenworth [(FL) FL 2002]
2002 Marine City; 2005 Marine City (¾); 2008 Marine City (½); 2008 Dryden, Leonard; 2019 Dryden


Rev. M. Christopher Lane

Traverse City: Central UMC

Serving as an Elder in our connection has been both hard and meaningful work, and I would not have had it any other way. I believe our God who is Great Mystery, redemptive and just, will continue 

to be my dance partner, calling me into new steps as yet another dance is about to begin.  To all colleagues and congregations, it was good dancing with you.  It has all been labyrinthine gift, all leading around corners toward Grace and Beloved (sometimes conflicted) Community. What else is there to say but Thank You as I let go.

I cannot do better than Mary Oliver’s closing lines from “In Blackwater Woods,” as I think toward this retiring, this jubilation -

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Christopher Lane [(FE) D 1982; FE 1988] 1986 Transferred from Holston Conf; 1986 Winn, Blanchard-Pine River, Coomer; 1990 Muskegon: Crestwood; 1995 Grand Rapids: Genesis (Co-Pastor); 2007 Martin, Shelbyville; 2009 Traverse City: Central (Assoc); 2021 Traverse City: Central (Senior)  

Rev. Lester Mangum

Pontiac: St. John UMC

Incomprehensible, forty years have passed so quickly; maybe there’s something to the idea that time flies when you follow your calling. I went to my first congregation while attending Drew Seminary in 

Madison, N.J., in 1983. The church was in the South Bronx in the neighborhood I grew up in. It was hard convincing my family that it was not a “special Appointment.” I received my Deacons Orders in 1982, and I was off to Central UMC in Detroit, where I served as an associate minister for two years. I received my Elders orders in 1986 and went back to Harlem, NYC, where I served until I was appointed to John Wesley UMC in Detroit in 1989.  In 1992 I was appointed to Peoples UMC. Where I served for ten years.  I was appointed to serve St. Timothy UMC in 2003, where I had a stroke and consequently lost my voice in 2012. I went out on disability for nearly a year before being appointed to the last church I would serve in active Ministry, St. John UMC: Pontiac, where I will serve until July 1, 2023. In many ways, the United Methodist Church was a bridge over troubled waters in my life. I will always be eternally grateful to the Lay and Clergy members for helping me grow in God’s Grace through the experiences I was afforded throughout my forty-year Ministry. All glory and honor go to God, whom we know through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Lester Mangum [(FE) P NY, 1983; F 1986]
1983 New York City: Willis Avenue; 1985 Transfer to Detroit Conf, Detroit: Central (assoc); 1986 Director, Young Adult Housing Project of Metropolitan Community Church, NYC (NY Conf, par. 425.1); 1988 Detroit Human Services; 1989 River Rouge: John Wesley; 1992 Detroit: People’s; 2003 Detroit: St. Timothy, West Outer Drive; 2005 Detroit: St. Timothy; 2012 medical leave; 2013 Pontiac: St. John


Rev. Tommy L. McDoniel

Flint: Asbury UMC

Even on my worst days, when my heart stops pounding, I realize that God has blessed me beyond anything I ever imagined possible. I was born into a large family that continues to expand. And I retire 

with a partner who loves me, five children, three sons-in-law, and a

daughter-in-law who are happy and healthy. And we all know Jesus personally. And I’m looking forward to spending more time with our eight grandchildren. God is good!


I’m blessed to have mentors who care enough about me, to be honest, and direct. And parents who did the same. Most of all, I’m blessed that God chose and anointed me to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.


I spent 25 years working in an industry that knew no limits. My career took me around the world several times, and I met people from more countries than I can remember. Yet, all this was nothing more than preparation for ministry with a community in peril. Supported by a small, faithful congregation that doesn’t accept limits.

One of my daughters heard my first sermon. “It’s not fair,” she said to me afterward. “You had a successful career before giving up everything to serve God. Can’t I have my career first?” Responding with words that only the Spirit could know, I replied, “Of course. I didn’t find true joy until I gave in to God’s will for me. You can wait as long as you want.”

Tommy L. McDoniel [(FL) FL 2010]
2010 Flint: Asbury



Rev. Scott K. Otis

Howell First UMC

It has been a joy to serve God as a pastor. My lovely wife, Carrie, has taken care of me along the way and been a great partner in ministry. I wish to thank Paul UMC in Oak Hill, Ohio for giving me experience as a 

student pastor. Lyons-Muir and Ionia Easton believed in me when I was unsure of myself. These were years of great growth for both me and my congregations. Mecosta New Hope was exciting in showing what churches working together can do.

I was appointed to Portland UMC in 1997 and saw six years of significant church growth. It is the town I always wanted to live in, and the church I wanted to retire from. It was a blessing.

In 2003 I began my education into how to do contemporary church. It was a great privilege to serve at Cornerstone and then to begin the congregation in Dorr called, CrossWind. Many people met Jesus there. I am still moved by the young lady I baptized who gave a brief testimony before the baptism. She had been totally unchurched. She said in tears, “I never thought it would happen to me!”

I am also thankful to meet the folks in Edwardsburg. They were grieving the death of their pastor and we walked through pain together. For the past three years I have been the COVID pastor of Howell. A difficult time for sure, but we serve the God of Resurrection.

I look forward to ministry ahead.

Scott K. Otis [(FE) D 1988; FE 1991]
1988 Lyons, Muir; 1990 Lyons, Muir/Ionia: Easton; 1993 Mecosta: New Hope; 1997 Portland; 2003 Grand Rapids: Cornerstone (Assoc); 2004 Dorr: CrossWind Community (New Church Start); 2017 Edwardsburg: Hope; 2020 Howell: First


Rev. Clifford L. Radtke

Port Austin UPC, Pinnebog UMC

Clifford L. Radtke [(PL) PL 2018]
2006 Lawrence; 2015 Lawrence (¾); 2016 Galien, Olive Branch (¾); 2018 Port Austin, Pinnebog (¾)

Rev. Lisa (McIlvenna) Semmler

Inner Life Transformations Counseling and Coaching Center

Ordained an elder in the Detroit Conference in 1993, my first appointment was to the Owendale

and Gagetown United Methodist Churches in 1991.  Appointments to Kochville UMC in Saginaw, Birmingham First UMC, St. Luke’s UMC in Rochester Hills and Midland First UMC followed in the years 1991-2019.   In 2006, I completed a DMin in psychotherapy/pastoral counseling and became a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and certified in Extension Ministry as a Pastoral Counselor.  As an extension minister, I served as the founding Executive Director and Pastoral Counselor/therapist at Fresh Aire Samaritan Counseling Center from 2009-2020 and as Pastoral Counselor of Inner Life Transformations Counseling Center from 2021-2023. 

From an early age, I felt that my life was not my own…that I was being called to something even though I didn’t know what.  During that time, I read this quote: “Our life is a gift from God, what we do with that life is our gift to God.”  Faithfully claiming and living this statement is what has guided my life and my ministry for the past 30 years.  I am grateful for the Community (individuals within the denomination and beyond) that have helped to foster deep personal/spiritual growth and transformation in my own life over the years as I sought to engage more deeply in the discovery, claiming and sharing of this gift.  I pray that the sharing of my life through my gifts, skills, and self through personal relationship has helped to foster similar growth and transformation for others!

Lisa M. (McIlvenna) Semmler [(FE) P 1990; FE 1993]
1991 Owendale, Gagetown; 1995 Saginaw: Kochville; 1999 Birmingham: First (assoc); 2004 Rochester Hills: St. Luke’s; 2008 Samaritan Counseling Center Southeast Michigan (¶344.1d); 2010 Midland: First (assoc) (½); 2011 Midland: First (assoc) (½) and Clinical Director/Pastoral Therapist, Fresh Aire Samaritan Counseling Center (½); 2021 Transitional Leave; 2021 Inner Life Transformations Counseling and Coaching Center, Pembroke Pines, FL (¶344.1b,c)


Rev. Jean M. Smith

Avondale UMC, Evart UMC, Sears UMC

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and  not disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in 

earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD.  
~Jeremiah 29:11-13a, NLT

These words spoken to the prophet Jeremiah are the ones that have sustained me throughout my life and ministry. It has been a wonderful journey--from my very first appointment as a part-time Local Pastor at Saugatuck United Methodist Church, then on to Ganges and Glenn, Lake City (my first full-time appointment as an Associate Member), to my final appointment at Evart/ Sears/ Avondale United Methodist Churches. Each of these congregations have poured into my life and enriched my ministry. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with people I would never had the privilege of encountering if I had not said “Yes” when God called me into the ministry process in 1999. Gary and I have been blessed to serve these communities and each have left a heart print on us. We are looking forward to what God has in store for us next as we retire to the home we are having built in Southern Indiana (we are especially looking forward to milder winters than those in Northern Michigan!).

Jean M. Smith [(AM) FL 2002; PL 2003; FL 2006; PL 2009; AM 2010]
2001 Saugatuck; 2005 Saugatuck, Ganges; 2005 Ganges, Glenn; 2010 Lake City; 2019 Evart, Sears; 2021 Evart, Sears, Avondale


Rev. Reed P. Swanson

Pinckney: Arise UMC

My call began over 40 years ago. It began in my “Jonah” phase. I was running from God, resisting a call to ministry. But God kept pulling me back. He used different experiences first 

in youth ministry, then mission work, and then in camping ministry. The journey began as a youth pastor in Fayetteville, North Carolina at Haymount UMC in 1984. Years later, with the counsel of Dr. John Bergland, I finally gave in and went to Duke Divinity School in 1992. I served at Resurrection, Hopewell, and Avery Parrish. After ordination I began my ministry in Michigan in downtown Detroit at Metropolitan with Dr. Bill Quick, but also ended up serving in small towns along the way as well. 


I’d like to share some lessons that God taught me along the way. In each and every stop I found the most important thing was to show the community how much you care. I also found that the way to show it was different in each stop. I worked hard to develop my strengths in ministry, but ironically, I have found that God used the broken parts more than my strengths. I wish I had won fewer arguments and debates; and made and strengthened more relationships. Remember, your spouse is called to ministry too. They have been with you and supportive through it all. If they say you’re wrong, realize that it’s true and move on, they’ll never steer you wrong. Thankfully Christ has been with us through it all.

Reed P. Swanson [(FE) P 1995; F 1998]
1995 Detroit: Metropolitan (assoc); 1998 Richmond: First; 2004 Tawas; 2008 Clarkston (assoc); 2010 Stony Creek; 2017 Frankenmuth; 2018 Crystal Falls: Christ, Amasa: Grace (½); 2018 Pickney: Arise


Rev. Mark E. Thompson

St. Ignace UMC

I was just seven years old when I first experienced my call to pastoral ministry. That call is deeply embedded in who I am as a child of God. It’s a call that has never left me, and I believe 

retirement will only open new opportunities to serve.

The capstone of my 58 years of call (36 appointed years 1987-2023) has to be the launch of Camp Beloved, a safe space for LGBTQ+ teenagers. This fall we will also debut the Beloved Adults Retreat. And more adventures are on the drawing board.

As a gay man, my call has been both joyful and painful. But the support I’ve received since openly acknowledging my fuller reality has far outweighed any negativity or rejection. For this, I am ever grateful. I pray we continue to create more safe spaces for grace, and to bring healing and hope to others.

Mark E. Thompson [(FE) D 1988; FE 1990]
1987 Riverside, Scottdale; 1992 Niles: Grace; 1996 Bellevue, Kalamo; 2004 Keeler, Silver Creek; 2009 Grand Rapids: Faith; 2017 Lansing: Central; 2020 St. Ignace


Rev. Beth D. Titus

I have loved being in ministry.  I have served wonderful people; I have been honored to work with many wonderful colleagues in ministry. Were there difficult times? Absolutely! But I am thankful for lessons learned. I have 

served 2 small churches, Denton: Faith UMC in Belleville (2002-2008) and Ann Arbor: Calvary (2008-2013). They loved me and challenged me as I grew as a pastor. 

I was appointed as an associate to a larger church, Nardin Park UMC in Farmington Hills.  I worked mainly with youth and missions.  We went through VCI together, we went through COVID lock-down together, we did life together. The youth were a joy to me. I worked with an incredible group of people to clarify the welcome statement, so it was clear that ALL were welcome at Nardin Park.

In 2021, I was appointed as the Director of Justice and Mission Engagement for the Greater Detroit District.  I enjoyed the work since mission work has been one of my passions.

I have been privileged to be able to make several trips to Haiti with Carmen and Karl Zeiglar.  I was able to preach in one of their communities following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The people of Haiti taught me more about faith and the saving grace of Jesus than anyone.  They truly know what it means to live by faith alone.

My husband and I have spent the last year traveling in our 5th wheel.  This is an amazingly beautiful and diverse country we live in. In retirement we plan to travel and enjoy our children and grandchildren. Thank you and Amen.

Beth D. Titus [(FE) PL 2002; PE 2004; FE 2008]
2002 Denton: Faith (½); 2008 Ann Arbor: Calvary; 2013 Voluntary leave; 2015 Farmington Hills: Nardin Park (assoc); 2021 Greater Detroit Director of Justice Ministries Engagement (½); 2022 Voluntary Leave of Absence 


Rev. Melodye Surgeon VanOudheusden

Monroe: St. Paul's UMC

I remember calling my mother when, after a 1991 winter retreat at Wesley Woods Camp, to share with her that I thought I had a call to 

pastoral ministry.  She laughed and shared a memory:  As a 4-year-old,

she remembers me lining up my dolls and stuffed animals to preach to them.  Then I took a round cookie cutter and made a host.  I then proceeded to take one of her best goblets to be my Communion chalice, which after a few uses I broke!  So, she was not surprised when her former Catholic daughter found herself led by God to a denomination where women could become pastors!

I appreciate deeply the two seminaries, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston IL USA) and Trinity Theological College {Singapore} for giving me a foundation upon which to create ministry.  I am grateful to the six Michigan congregations with whom I have shared ministry.  Most of all, my husband John VanOudheusden and my three children Kara Lewis, Harrison Rider and the late Jon Rider gave me their support in all the joys and pressures of clergy life.  I could not have done it without them – and God’s amazing grace!

Surgeon VanOudheusden [(FE) D 1994; FE 2005]
1996 Family Leave; 2002 Marcellus; 2007 Jackson Trinity/Parma; 2012 Evart; 2017 Evart, Sears; 2019 Monroe: St. Paul’s


Rev. Donald L. Wojewski

Caseville UMC

My journey to ministry began in 2000. After interviews with the dCOM I was approved and attended License to Preach at the Huron Retreat Center, in the summer of 2003.

In September of that year, I received a call from the Port Huron District Superintendent to fill the pulpit for two churches that were to have a halftime pastor.

In December of that year, DS was unable to find a halftime Pastor. The SPRC asked if I could be their Pastor. I gladly accepted and have served many churches since.

Donald L. Wojewski [(FL) FL 2005]
2004 Memphis: First, Lamb; 2005 Omo: Zion; 2005 Rose City: Trinity, Churchill; 2008 Rose City: Trinity (½); 2008 Rose City: Trinity, Glennie; 2011 Standish: Community, Saganing Indian Church; 2012 Jeddo, Buel; 2013 Avoca, Jeddo, Ruby; 2018 Jeddo, Avoca; Caseville; 2020 Caseville (60%), Hayes (40%)


Rev. Susan M. Youmans

Lexington UMC

Since 2005 until today I have been blessed to serve on staff and as lead pastor in 4 distinctly different congregations and communities.  Whether in metropolitan, suburban, small 

town or a resort village church, there has been a place for my skills and gifts (including my “growing edges”) to help others find their stories in God’s story, the story of grace.

Each of you in this Michigan Conference (commissioned and ordained in the Detroit Conference 2005/2008) have shaped my understanding of ministry.  One of my greatest joys is the work I was given on several District Committees on Ordained Ministry, hearing a call to ministry, and affirming that call, supporting candidates and licensed local pastors, and celebrating each one’s growth in pastoral formation and as disciples of Christ.

The mentors and colleagues ready to listen and challenge, the opportunities to learn new skills, and the support of superintendents and bishops found in this Michigan Conference have sustained me and helped me to thrive in ministry. 

Thriving, living into the fullness of the image of God, not just surviving, has kept my head above water (literally, having survived and recovered with a whole community after the worst national disaster of 2014).  Then follow that with a 3-year intensive in adaptive leadership through a pandemic.  Without those who have served before me and those who serve with me, I would not have known the gifts of perseverance, determination, and compassion needed to keep serving those God loves.  I am forever grateful. 

Susan M. Youmans [(FE) PE 2005; FE 2008]
2005 Caring Covenant Group Ministry: Davison (assoc); 2008 Farmington: Nardin Park (assoc); 2012 Warren: First; 2018 Lexington 


Rev. Jill H. Zundel

Detroit: Central UMC

It is so hard to believe that 31 years have passed since I first stood in the pulpit as the pastor. At the begging of this journey, I was terrified.  Now I am simply in awe.

My life verse has become Esther 4:14. “Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.”  I have embraced those words throughout my ministry.  Being a bold leader is a daunting task.  I have been a voice speaking out for full inclusion of LGBTQIA siblings into the life of our denomination, protecting immigrants from deportation, why water is a human right or simply why good quality Christian Education is important in the life of the local congregation.

Each congregation I served molded me, guided me, sometimes tolerated me and followed me to things outside of our comfort zones but life changing for our community and for the kingdom of God.  I am blessed that my husband, Gary and my two daughters, Clara and Hannah, were with me throughout this crazy journey of faith, moving when it disrupted their lives.  They were always welcomed graciously in each congregation and for that I am so grateful.

 My official appointment time is now over.  However, my life verse remains.  I look forward to where God will lead me “for such a time as this.”

Jill H. Zundel [(FE) P 1991; F 1995]
1992 Detroit: Zion; 1994 Hazel Park: First; 1999 Clarkston (Assoc); 2006 New Baltimore: Grace; 2014 Detroit: Central


2023 Michigan Annual Conference