United Methodist Churches (Large) Affinity Group
A group for lead pastors of larger United Methodist Churches that have multiple staff members. For more information contact Tom Harrison. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Harrison earned a Master of Arts and Doctor of Ministry from Oral Roberts University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Oklahoma City University.
Harrison has served as the Pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church for nearly 20 years. Before that he pastored four other churches in Oklahoma.
Harrison’s leadership role in the Church extends beyond pastor. He served as a delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. He was a member of the Asbury Seminary Beeson Clergy Council, Chairman of the Alumni Leadership Team and Alumnus of the year in 2003. He serves on the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, the Oklahoma Wesleyan Board of Trustees and the Oklahoma Conference Chair of the Council of Finance and Administration.
His hobbies include traveling, reading, golfing and watching college football. He is an avid St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. He and his wife, Dana, have three children.
Rev. Steve Wood earned a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, in 1986.
In June 1989, he was appointed to plant a new church, which has become the New Covenant United Methodist Church. Starting with only 16 people, the church grew to over 600 members in just seven years. The church was recognized as the fastest growing congregation in the Southeastern Jurisdiction in 1991.
Wood served as Senior Pastor at Sugar Hill United Methodist Church for 10 years. Under his leadership, membership more than doubled, eventually surpassing 2000 people. Sugar Hill is distinguished by one of the highest worship attendance/membership ratios in all of Methodism at 70%, with the majority of new members joining by profession of faith in Christ, rather than transfer from other churches.
Currently, Wood serves Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church, which is the third largest church by worship attendance in the entire denomination. He also serves as Vice-Chair of the North Georgia Conference Council on Finance and Administration, and was one of 14 clergy delegates elected to the world gathering of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church representing the North Georgia Conference in April 2008.
Steve served for seven years as the Community Spiritual Director for the Northwest Georgia Walk to Emmaus movement. Overseas, Steve has led mission trips to Israel, Jordan, Haiti, Brazil, Nigeria and Mexico. In 1994, Steve was chosen as the Community Spiritual Director for the launch of the Tres Dias movement in Moscow, Russia. He has a passion for missions and evangelism in making disciples of Jesus Christ and growing and cultivating Christian leaders for global impact.
In addition to his pastoral role, Steve serves on the boards of Mount Pisgah Christian School, the Summit Counseling Center, and The Beacon of Hope Women’s Center, North Georgia Conference Finance and Administration, The Confession Movement, and The Leading Edge Large Church Pastors Network.
Wood, and his wife of 23 years, LeAnne, have three daughters and a son: Lauren, Lacey, Layne, and Steven, Jr. Their family resides in Alpharetta, Ga., and they enjoy water sports, golfing, gardening, snow skiing, baseball, basketball, and bike-riding.
Rev. Rurel R. Ausley, Jr., is a native of Geneva, Ala. He received Jesus Christ as his Savior at age 15 and felt God’s call into the ministry at age 16. Rurel attended Asbury University, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Bible in 1976, and earned his Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 1980.
Rurel is an ordained Elder in the Alabama West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Since 1998, he has been the Lead Pastor of Niceville United Methodist Church, in Niceville, Fla. During his years at Niceville, the church has added a Community Life Center and state of the art children’s facility that has helped the church grow from 1,000 people to an average of almost 2,200 in attendance. The Niceville church has seven Asbury Seminary graduates on staff.
Rurel and his wife, Lisa, met at Asbury Seminary and were married in 1980. Lisa earned a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. She serves on the Board of OMS International, and is helping pastor Niceville’s St. Mark campus in Crestview, Fla.
The Ausleys have three grown sons; Matthew, Andrew and Luke.
Dr. Bryan Daniel Collier is the Founding Pastor and also the Lead Pastor and Ministry Coach at The Orchard: A United Methodist Congregation in Tupelo, Miss. Prior to planting The Orchard, he served four pastorates in the Mississippi and Kentucky Annual Conferences of The United Methodist Church.
He began his Master of Divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary in the fall of 1991 and while serving pastorates in Kentucky, and earned his degree in the spring of 1994. Receiving a Beeson Fellowship Grant in 1997, his research focus was in the arena of systems theory and it’s impact as a tool of the leader. Collier adapted much of MIT Professor Peter Senge’s seminal work, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization for church use. Collier has been an ordained Elder in The Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1996.
Collier has more than 20 years of experience in pastoral ministry. His interests and expertise includes leadership issues, church for the un-churched and cultural dissection. He is passionate about helping people at all stages of faith grow deep in the love of God and branch out to others with that love. His passion extends to helping leaders and organizations facilitate this growth. To that end he is the author of Becoming An Orchard, Xulon Press, 2006 and Gentle Interventions, Xulon Press, 2008.
Collier is a sports enthusiast, a voracious reader and enjoys hiking and the outdoors. He is married to Wendy and they have a daughter, Olivia, and a son, Houston.
Dr. Charles C. Kyker is a 2004 graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary’s Beeson International Center for Advanced Church Leadership and Biblical Preaching, where he received a Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership and Evangelism. Kyker also received a Master of Theology in Wesley Studies from Duke University’s Divinity School in 1997 and a Master of Divinity from Emory’s Candler School of Theology in 1988.
Amidst working on these degrees, Kyker was also serving. He served as Youth Pastor of Unity United Methodist Church in Thomasville, N.C. (1982-83), and Asbury United Methodist Church in Greensboro, N.C. (1983-85). He served as the Associate Pastor for First United Methodist Church in Buford, Ga. (1985-87); First United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Ga. (1987-88); and First United Methodist Church in Waynesville, N.C. (1988-90). Kyker was the Senior Pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Clemmons, N.C. (1990-97). He is currently the Lead Pastor of Christ United Methodist Church with five campuses in and around Hickory, N.C. Christ Church has grown from 140 in worship attendance to now averaging 2,500. Charles was ordained as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference in 1987 and later as an Elder, in 1991.
Charles is married to the former Julie Melissa White of Cleveland, Tenn. They have four children: Mary Grace, Ashley Beth, Molly Ann, and Joseph.
Branson Sheets earned a Master of Divinity in 1987 and a Doctor of Ministry in 2005 from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is the Lead Pastor of Covenant United Methodist Church in Greenville, N.C., one of the largest congregations in the North Carolina Annual Conference. Covenant is known for its innovative worship experiences and its emphasis on equipping leaders to do ministry.
Prior to serving at Covenant, Sheets served 15 years as the Pastor of a more rural, two-point circuit. While serving at this charge, he directed the Wellspring Academy for Christian Leadership, an equipping ministry for pastors of smaller churches.
He is married to Stephanie, whom he met at Asbury Seminary. They have four children. He is an avid cyclist and disc golfer.
Ralph Sigler is the lead and founding pastor of Harvest Church in Dothan, Ala. He comes from a family of pastors, including his grandfather, his father, and both of his brothers. Sigler graduated from Asbury University in the 1980s and after 15 years of youth ministry (10 years at First Methodist Church, Enterprise) graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary in the 1990s.
While at Asbury Seminary, Ralph felt the call to start a church. He moved his young family to Dothan in 1996, where they began the church in their home. Now, Harvest Church averages more than 1500 people in attendance on Sundays, and maintains this vision: to reach the unchurched, to offer authentic worship, and to provide opportunities for true relationships through small groups.
Sigler married his college sweetheart, Rhonda, and they have three sons, Daniel, Joel, and Paul.
Rev. Dr. Ken Werlein
In 1998, the Lord called me to plant a church in Northwest Houston with the mission to make more and stronger disciples of Jesus Christ. Faithbridge Church began with a core group of seven people, growing to thousands of adults, students, and children attending Faithbridge each week. Guided by a memorable congregation-wide prayer campaign, we purchased 80 acres of land where our new church home stands.
I get most excited when I see people transformed by the touch of Jesus Christ. I love hearing about folks whose prayer lives are climbing to new levels, whose hearts for serving others inside and outside our walls are growing, whose addictions are being conquered, and whose families are being strengthened. I like seeing real lives experience real change.
God gave me just the perfect wife for me. Suzanne is a lot of fun and very funny, deeply committed, and so cute I sometimes think, “Wow, how’d I get her?” We have two sons named for some of our favorite heroes of English church history. Wesley, in elementary school, is named after John and Charles Wesley; and our preschooler, William, is named after William Tyndale.
In addition to teaching God’s Word, leading Faithbridge, and developing new leaders, I enjoy using the gifts God has given me to help strengthen other Kingdom-minded ministries, like the thriving college ministry called Breakaway, at Texas A&M.