Bishop Appoints Interim Co-Superintendents to the Northeast District

Bishop Gary Mueller has announced the appointment of Rev. Phil Hathcock and Rev. Rodney Steele to serve as interim Superintendents and Mission Strategists for the Northeast District, effective January 1, 2023, and continuing through June 30, the end of this appointment year. This appointment has been made in consultation with Bishop Laura Merrill, incoming Arkansas Area Episcopal leader.

Bishop Merrill shared, “Given the mid-year nature of the change in the Northeast District, in addition to my own mid-year move, I am grateful that this role has been filled on an interim basis, giving us time to reflect well on the appointment for the longer term. I am deeply grateful for Rodney and Phil’s willingness to serve in this way and look forward to learning from them, alongside the other members of the Cabinet.”

Hathcock and Steele will follow Rev. John Fleming, who has served as the Northeast District Superintendent and Mission Strategist since 2018. He was recently appointed to serve as senior pastor at Springdale First United Methodist Church.

Rev. Phil Hathcock served FUMC Eureka Springs, FUMC Cherokee Village, FUMC Conway, and as District Superintendent of the Central District and Assistant to the Bishop at the Arkansas Conference before retiring.

“I’m honored to be invited to partner with Rodney Steele in serving the Northeast District. We look forward to joining those pastors and congregations in their work of faithful and fruitful ministry,” shared Hathcock.

Rev. Rodney Steele served FUMC Murfreesboro, FUMC Rogers, FUMC Texarkana, and FUMC Mountain Home. He also served as the Southwest District Superintendent before retiring in 2019.

“I’m honored to be given this opportunity to help with Bishop Merrill’s transition and to serve with my friend, Phil Hathcock, who is an exceptional pastor and administrator,” shared Rev. Steele. “I ask for everyone’s prayers that we are able to provide a loving and healing ministry for making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Mueller, who is retiring effective January 1, 2023, has commended both Hathcock and Steele on their history of serving in the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. “I am grateful for their answer to serve in retirement. They bring great experience as previous District Superintendents and have served faithfully for many years in pastoral leadership across the Arkansas Conference. Phil and Rodney will serve the Northeast District with great expertise, wisdom and loving hearts.”

Bishop Laura Merrill will officially begin her Episcopal assignment to the Arkansas Annual Conference on January 1, 2023. “I want to offer my thanks to Bishop Mueller for his collaboration in making these appointments and for an open and gracious transition overall. I look forward to the journey ahead alongside Reverends Hathcock and Steele and all the United Methodists of the Arkansas Conference.”

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