Rev. Ann Ferris Named New District Superintendent of Southwest District

The Rev. Ann Ferris, newly appointed district superintendent of the Southwest District.

Bishop Gary Mueller has announced the appointment of Rev. Ann Ferris to district superintendent and chief mission strategist for the Southwest District, effective July 1, 2020. 

Ferris is originally from Nottingham, England, and received her undergraduate degree in engineering from Cambridge University in England. She received her M.Div. at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and was ordained as an elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference in 2003. 

Serving in the Arkansas Conference since July 2004, Ferris was appointed associate pastor at Christ of the Hills UMC in Hot Springs Village until 2005. She was then appointed as pastor to St. Luke UMC in Little Rock from 2005 to 2011. She served FUMC Corning from 2011 to 2015 and most recently served as pastor of Mena UMC from 2015 – 2019.  

Bishop Mueller shared, “I am delighted to welcome Ann as the district superintendent and chief mission strategist for the Southwest District. She brings many gifts, knows firsthand the opportunities and challenges of smaller and medium-size churches, and is passionate about making disciples of Jesus Christ who are equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world.”

Ferris has been married to James Ferris for nine years. She has two daughters, Naomie Fowler (Plant City, FL) and Abigail Osborne (Sterling, VA) and four step-children: Rachel Wages (Maumelle), Chrissy Eubanks (Jerusalem, AR), Jimmy Ferris (Maumelle), and Rebecca McCarter (Madisonville, LA).

In her spare time, she enjoys quilting, knitting and walking her rescue dogs, Tucker and Tanner. 

“I am humbled but excited to embark on this new journey as the district superintendent of the Southwest District. I have developed a passion for small churches and their pastors through my years as a circuit elder in rural parts of our state, so I look forward to working with churches of all sizes in the district. I trust that God will guide me as I work together with all the diverse United Methodists in the district to help make vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world,” Ferris said.

J.J. Galloway named new district superintendent of Southwest District
Southwest DS Rodney Steele to retire this year

J.J. Galloway, new district superintendent of the Southwest District

The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church announced today that current Northeast District Superintendent Johnna J. Galloway will be the new DS of the Southwest District, beginning July 1, 2019.

Galloway, who has served as the Northeast district superintendent since 2016, is excited about the opportunity to serve in an area she called home for many years.

“I am very grateful and at the same time, humbled to be appointed by Bishop Mueller to the Southwest District as District Superintendent/Chief Mission Strategist,” Galloway said. “In accepting this new appointment, I return to the district of my birth and one where I have been greatly blessed to serve congregations. I return to this mission field full of hope for the future and zeal for walking beside the people of the Southwest District as together we work hard to make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities, and the world.”

Galloway will take over for the Rev. Rodney Steele, who is retiring this year after serving as the Southwest district superintendent since 2015. Before serving as the Southwest District DS, Steele was DS for the former North Central District from 2005 – 2011.

Steele has confidence that Galloway will be able to effectively lead the District thanks to her Spirit, energy and focus.

In the meantime, Steele is looking forward to his retirement but has no plans to stop ministering to others anytime soon.

“In 45 years of ministry, I’ve been blessed to see the power of Christ all over the world and in multiple areas of church life,” Steele said. “Now, I’m looking forward to new mission fields as I feel led by God to use photography to help show everyone the presence of God in Creation and in their lives; especially with folks who haven’t been a part of the life of the church.”

Bishop Gary Mueller selected Galloway for the position due to her ability to closely connect with others in the Conference.

“I have come to deeply value J.J.’s leadership on the appointive cabinet these past years. She has connected with laity and clergy, helped churches to engage the communities around them, and has a heart for small membership churches. Her prior experience in the southwest district makes her a natural choice to serve as the chief mission strategists and district superintendent,” Mueller said.

Pastors from local churches in the Southwest District are eager to see what Galloway will bring to the office, and are certain she has the skills needed to lead the district.

“Rev. Steele did a fantastic job and we look forward to working with Rev. Galloway as we continue to make new disciples of Jesus Christ in Arkansas.” said the Rev. William Cato, senior pastor at Arkadelphia First United Methodist Church.

“Moreover, from what I know of Rev. Galloway, she most certainly has the gifts and graces that are needed for this leadership position. We will pray for her and do our best to support her, and I know she will do the same for all of the churches in our District.”

Galloway will take over the position shortly after Annual Conference 2019.

The Southwest District stretches from Texarkana in the Southwest corner of Arkansas to Hot Springs in the North, El Dorado in the East and De Queen in the West. There are more than 150 United Methodist Churches in the Southwest District of the Arkansas Conference.

Dr. Blake Bradford Appointed as Central District Superintendent and Chief Mission Strategist

Rev. Dr. Blake Bradford

Bishop Gary Mueller has announced the appointment of Dr. Blake Bradford, assistant director for the Center for Vitality, as the new Superintendent and Chief Mission Strategist of the Central District beginning July 1, 2018. Dr. Bradford follows Rev. Richard Lancaster, who is retiring after having served for the last four years.

“I feel honored and humbled by Bishop Muller’s invitation to serve as a member of his cabinet, an amazing group of spiritual leaders,” said Dr. Bradford. “It is especially exciting to be welcomed to the team when Arkansas is leading the way in reimagining the ministry of the district superintendent as chief missional strategist.  I look forward with joy to serving alongside the clergy and laity of the Central District as we, together, create vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world.”

Bishop Mueller said of Bradford, “Blake has a passion for vital congregations and the gift of being able to think strategically with churches so they are better able to live out our trajectory of creating vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world. He has a pastor’s heart, a heart on fire and the desire to touch lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am excited that Blake will be part of the leadership of the Arkansas Annual Conference.”

Blake and his high school sweetheart, Kerri, have two teenage children: Bailey and Micah.  An artist and museum educator, Kerri is an adjunct instructor in the art department of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Bradford has served in churches of different sizes and contexts in Denver, Texarkana, Russellville, and Little Rock, as an associate, solo, and senior pastor. His most recent parish appointment has been as executive pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, a 3500-member congregation, where he worked alongside lay leadership, staff, and fellow clergy to align and coordinate the church’s ministries.

Joining the church as a young adult, Blake was baptized at Highland Valley UMC in Little Rock as a college student. He grew up in Little Rock and attended Hendrix College in Conway (B.A., Religion, 1996). After graduation, Blake studied in England at Oxford University’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He read Medieval and Reformation theology for his first master’s degree at Vanderbilt University (M.A., History of Christian Thought, 1998), with a focus on sacramental theology.  Blake then earned his Master of Divinity degree at Iliff School of Theology in Denver (M.Div., 2000). Blake holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in parish leadership from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas (D.Min., 2014), where his doctoral project, “Passing the Mantle,” studied the use of peer groups and continuing education in pastoral formation. 

Dr. Bradford has served on the executive committee of the Arkansas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for several years, organized and directs the Residency in Ministry Program for those seeking ordination, serves the bishop as the Annual Conference Parliamentarian, and teaches pastoral leadership and administration for the Arkansas Course of Study School. He also has served on the board of Connected in Christ, the Arkansas Conference Committee on the Status and Role of Women, and on various District Boards of Ordained Ministry and Superintendency. Blake has been a keynote speaker at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Quadrennial Training for Boards of Ordained Ministry and presented at the Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Institute.  He currently serves on GBHEM’s Advisory Panel for Residency in Ministry. Blake also holds a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, which he believes has been his best training for ministry!