by Vance Morton*
Bishop Mike Lowry, episcopal leader of the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, has announced Rev. Mike Ramsdell
will be appointed as the District Superintendent (DS) for the West District of the Central Texas Conference effective July 1. The district’s current superintendent, Rev. Carol Woods recently announced her retirement
from active ministry, creating the open position on the Central Texas Conference Cabinet and in the West District.
“I’m delighted to welcome Mike to the Cabinet and to the West District,” Bishop Lowry exclaimed. “He brings a wealth of experience in building vital congregations, which are faithful and fruitful and bring a high level of commitment for the people and local churches of the West District.”
Rev. Ramsdell served in the area that is now the West District in the past and continues to serve on HCI
leadership team in the West District. The opportunity to return to and work with the local churches of the West District and the conference as a whole is an opportunity that excites and motivates him.
“Rhonda (Mike’s wife) and I have always had a close place in our heart for the West District,” Rev. Ramsdell commented. “I am excited and challenged to be able to serve the church in general and the West District in particular in this new way. Kingdom building is never a one person or one church endeavor, it is done the best when we do it as a team, working together in Christ with His mission always at the center. I relish the opportunity to serve God this special way. I believe God has uniquely prepared me for this season of ministry and eagerly look forward to it.”
Rev. Ramsdell has served four appointments in his 38 years of ministry in the Central Texas Conference. Appointments at Bangs, Waxahachie Ferris Heights and Joshua UMCs make up the first 17 years of his pastoral resume. For the last 21 years, Mike has served First Mansfield
as senior (20 years) and co-pastor (this last year). During his time at First Mansfield, average attendance has grown from 375 to more than 2,500 each week and membership has grown seven-fold (1,000 to 7,000), there have been close to 2,000 professions of faith, four new worships services and venues added and a great expansion of the life and mission of the Church - in the greater Mansfield community as well as globally in places such as Guatemala, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Mexico and India.
“I will have served the people of and the community around First Mansfield for 21 years and love the relationships we have built, the ministry we have done together, the worship we have shared and the lives we have been privileged to interact with,” Rev. Ramsdell recalled. “God has been good to us here. I will always treasure these years, these friends and how God has worked in and through our lives together. I would not be who I am without the support, friendship, sacrifice and prayers of the people of Mansfield. They have inspired, encouraged, taught, served and blessed me. I can only be grateful and thankful to God for the honor I have had of leading with such a great church and with such great people. It has been plain awesome.”
In his thoughts and prayers about who to appoint as the DS to replace the retiring Rev. Carol Woods, Bishop Lowry knew he was looking for someone special. “Carol Woods has been phenomenal in the West District. No matter the situation, whenever she entered a gathering it was like one of the family just walked in,” Bishop Lowry observed. “It would be difficult for anyone to follow the high level of excellence and deep care that Carol demonstrated. I believe Mike Ramsdell bring that same commitment and care to the table.”
When asked about how it feels to be appointed to “go West young man,” Rev. Ramsdell said, “My mom and dad belonged to First Brownwood where I preached my first Sunday morning sermon. Our first four years of ministry were in the Brownwood district. In many ways, it is like we are returning to our roots in ministry, no longer as a solo pastor, but serving the West District and all our conference in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I have worked with this mission in mind for my entire ministry and am excited about working with Bishop Lowry, the Cabinet and with the conference as a whole with that same mission as our focus.”
Besides his service to First Mansfield, Rev. Ramsdell has led or been an active member on many conference and connectional ministries. Mike was the chairperson of the CTC Exodus Project Task Force and chaired the conference’s Division of Elders for 10 years and been chair and vice chair of the Church Growth Commission. He has served on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, the East District Committee on Ministry and been active for many years in “The Leading Edge” – a gathering of the pastors of the Top 100 attended Methodist Churches.
Mike is a graduate of San Angelo Central High School. Following high school he served six years in the U.S. Navy, received a BA from Central Bible College, and a Master of Divinity from Brite Divinity School. Mike is married to Rhonda. They have 3 children and 9 grandchildren (5 boys and 4 girls). Please look for more on Mike and his appointment as the West District Superintendent in the weeks leading up to Annual Conference 2016.