Central Texas Cabinet Appointments Announced

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., resident bishop of the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, has announced several new appointments to the CTC Cabinet. In the article below, Bishop Saenz also provides some insight as to why he believes these persons to be right for their roles, the Cabinet and the Conference as we begin to action new, exciting and connectional ways to move forward in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

by Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr.

It is my pleasure to announce three new, pivotal and kairotic appointments to the Central Texas Cabinet team. These appointments were made In consultation with Cabinet and frank conversation with the appointees and are effective July 1, 2022.
I appointed Rev. Danny Tenney to serve as district superintendent for the North and West Districts. Rev. Louis Carr is transitioning back to local church ministry – an appointment which will be announced at a later date. Dr. Will Cotton is appointed to serve as Executive Director for the Lamar Smith Center of Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth. Rev. Lara Whitley Franklin is appointed to serve as the Executive Director of the Sidney Roberts Center for Clergy Leadership.
These three clergy leaders have a long and proven track record of effective and fruitful ministry. They have outstanding credibility among the clergy and laity of the conference. All three are big-picture thinkers, strategists, process and system designers and they are passionate about the mission and future of The United Methodist Church. Click on the following links to read more about Danny, Lara and/or Will.
Before highlighting my vision for each of the three new appointees and the roles they’ll play in leading our conference forward in The United Methodist connection, I want to thank Rev. Louis Carr for his service and commitment to the Cabinet. I am grateful for Louis’ general oversight and support of the congregations under his supervision in the North and West districts prior to and after my episcopal assignment to the Central Texas Conference. Louis has been instrumental in familiarizing me with the Cabinet, my new setting, the conference staff, and the conference culture. He has a pastor’s heart and he is an excellent preacher, which are just a couple of the reasons I am excited for how he’ll help the CTC move forward as he makes a life-changing difference for Christ in the lives of the people and the communities he will serve in his new appointment. I wish him all God’s best.
As a district superintendent, Danny will be an extension of my superintending role as bishop – as will Beverly Connelly (South/Central Districts) and Philip Rhodes (East District and Cabinet Dean). As a DS, he will oversee the total ministry of the clergy in his districts and ensure that churches are equipped in their disciple-making ministry. He will work with me and the cabinet in the process of appointment and assignment for ordained and licensed clergy, or assignment of qualified and trained laypersons, lay minsters or lay missioners. Rev. Tenney will establish working relationships with staff/parish relations committees, lay leaders, district teams, and conference support staff to develop faithful and effective systems of ministry within the district. Danny’s capacity for visioning, building teams to execute and complete a vision, his collaborative leadership style, openness to ideas, and approachability are key characteristics and skills sets for effectiveness as a district superintendent.
Dr. Will Cotton brings more than 40 years of ministry experience to his new role as Executive Director of the Lamar E. Smith Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth. He is a humble and wise servant-leader who deeply values the ministry of the laity and congregations. In his new role, Dr. Cotton will steward the vision of the Conference and lead in the continual process of transformation and renewal necessary for the Central Texas Conference to be faithful to our Christian and Wesleyan identity in a changing world. He will ensure that our resources are aligned with our vision and mission and will ensure the connections among local, district, conference, and general church ministries for the purpose of networking, resourcing, and communicating our shared ministry. Will’s role also oversees the Conference’s initiatives for discipleship, lay leadership development, evangelism, congregational vitality, new church development, congregational coaching, campus ministry, camping ministry, mission engagement, and justice ministries.
Rev. Lara Franklin is a critical thinker, strategist, and excellent communicator. She is known for building frameworks, systems, and processes that support, sustain, and enhance leadership capacity and ministry fruitfulness. Her core responsibilities as Executive Director of the Robert’s Center for Clergy Leadership will be to create connecting and covenanting communities for clergy to share in peer-group learning and support; to provide continuing self and spiritual care resources for clergy renewal; supply coaching for clergy; and to develop competency and skills tools and training initiatives to maximize clergy leadership effectiveness for congregational vitality. Lara’s portfolio will also include new clergy recruitment in collaboration with the District and Conference Boards of Ordained Ministry and seminaries.
Danny, Lara and Will join current Cabinet team members Mrs. Darlene Alfred (CTC Lay Leader), Rev. Beverly Connelly (South and Central DS), Dr. Clifton Howard (Assistant to the Bishop) and Rev. Philip Rhodes (East DS and Cabinet Dean). This Central Texas Conference Cabinet team is new but highly experienced in ministry. Their collective life and ministry experiences, diverse perspectives, knowledge of the Conference’s history and contexts, and their learning-leader approach are all strengths.
Our new Cabinet team will function much like a start-up organization. We will do research to ascertain an accurate picture of what is needed for fruitful ministry within the boundaries of the Central Texas Conference amid a changing world. We will pilot new initiatives and scale successful ones. We will create “new normals” and set new expectations for effective and fruitful clergy, lay, and congregational ministry. We will cultivate and nurture a culture of abundance, excellence, possibility, growth, and Christ-centered servant leadership. Feedback from our local churches, laity, clergy, conference/district staff, ministry partners, and the mission field will be taken seriously. We will engage the diverse and growing mission field with relevant evangelism initiatives, works of mercy, and acts of justice. Our United Methodist Church’s connectional system will be reestablished, strengthened, respected, and highly trusted again.
I am excited about the new appointments and look forward to how this Cabinet team of leaders will innovate and design ways to support the current and future mission of the Central Texas Conference to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world for years to come. Please continue to watch our conference website, social media platforms and your email for more updates and narratives as to how we, as the Central Texas Conference are united in our mission and excited about our future.