April 01, 2016
Gateway Central District Superintendent Kurt Schuermann has completed eight years as District Superintendent, which is the maximum tenure allowed by the Book of Discipline. He will receive a local church appointment during this appointive season.
“Kurt has acted as mentor and coach to countless pastors and those exploring ministry in the Gateway Central district,” said Bishop Schnase. “His thoughtful work will be missed on the Cabinet.”
The next Gateway Central District Superintendent will be Rev. Londia Granger Wright.
“We’re very excited to have Rev. Granger Wright appointed as Gateway Central District Superintendent,” said Bishop Robert Schnase. “Her knowledge of the St. Louis area, district churches, laity and clergy will benefit her leadership. She will be an asset to the Cabinet as we seek to make disciples through our 60 churches in the Gateway Central.”
Mark Twain District Superintendent Dale Stone will retire this July. “For forty years, Rev. Stone has done excellent work as a pastor, and most recently as a District Superintendent for six years,” said Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase. “Dale’s heart and passion for the rural church was ever present during our Cabinet discussions and I am privileged to have worked alongside him during my tenure in Missouri.”
The next Mark Twain District Superintendent will be Rev. Steve Pinnell. “Rev. Pinnell has offered excellent pastoral leadership in his appointments in Missouri, loves the local church, and has earned the respect and support of his clergy peers through his work as chair of the Clergy Support Team,” said Bishop Schnase.” Steve will be an asset to the Cabinet and I know the District will be in capable hands.”
Both new cabinet members will bring a diverse range of experience to the position, as well as special connections to the districts they will serve.
Londia Granger Wright
Londia Granger Wright grew up in St. Louis. After high school she entered the Navy, and served as a chaplain’s assistant and journalist during her four years of service in Guam and Bermuda.
Following the Navy, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Master of Arts in English from St. Louis University. She worked more than 20 years in public relations, for St. Louis University, St. Louis Public Schools, Kansas City Public Schools, Fleishman-Hillard public relations agency, and the city of Independence. She also worked at the Riverfront Times newspaper in St. Louis, and was the managing editor of The Disciple magazine for the Disciples of Christ.
Marriage took her to Kansas City, and to becoming a member of St. James UMC where she embraced her childhood call to ministry. “Participation in Disciple Bible study as a student, and then later as a facilitator, gave me the motivation to answer the call,” Wright said. She earned a Master of Divinity degree, with a Specialization in Evangelism, from Saint Paul School of Theology. While at Saint Paul, she served as a student local pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Kansas City, and then went on to serve as associate pastor there when she was a provisional elder.
“I will never forget the loving support the St. Luke’s congregation gave to me when my husband, George, died unexpectedly and tragically,” Wright said.
“The members helped to establish a library in Vietnam in his memory, and they will forever hold a special place in my heart.”
After ordination, Wright was appointed to Waynesville UMC. Although a small town, mid-Missouri church was a different context for her ministry, Waynesville’s proximity to Fort Leonard Wood made it a very good fit.
“The church was filled with active duty and retired military and their families,” Wright said, being able to relate to her congregation through her own military experience.
After Waynesville, Wright had the opportunity to return to the origins of pastoral ministry, as she was appointed senior pastor to Saint Luke’s UMC in Kansas City. She spent three years there, and then went to the UMC of Green Trails in west St. Louis county in 2013.
“Being at Green Trails has been a very positive experience,” she said. “The people have a heart for missions and social justice, and are very supportive of ministries in the St. Louis metropolitan area, such as Kingdom House, and Epworth Children & Family Services, and in Mozambique and around the world. They are now really focusing on reaching out to the immediate community under the shadow of their steeple, and I think they will continue to do very well with that.”
While serving as a pastor, Wright has had several leadership roles beyond the local church. She is certified as an Associate in Evangelism from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. She served six years as Missouri Conference Secretary, six years on the Conference Sessions Committee, two years as chair of the Communication Commission, four years on Conference Council and is currently a member of the Congregational Development Team, the Conference Rules and Procedures Committee, alternate on the Conference Committee on Investigation, and a member of the Gateway Central Board of Trustees.
Rev. Steve Pinnell can trace his Methodist roots back to a great-grandfather who was a circuit rider.
He was raised in the Disciples of Christ Church in Brookfield, and attended Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, majoring in Christianity and Sociology, after a brief stint as a business major at another school.
“I gave up and gave in to my call to ministry,” he said. He went on to seminary at Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, and served Baptist churches for 20 years. One of those was at Jamesport, where he worked with the local United Methodist pastor (at the time) Bob Casady.
“Bob always told me, ‘You’re a United Methodist, you just don’t know it,’” Pinnell said.
Later, when Pinnell was serving on staff at Trinity UMC in Brookfield as congregational care pastor, Casady was Northwest District Superintendent, and he asked Pinnell to serve as pastor of Fairfax UMC. He accepted, serving as a minister from another denomination. While appointed to that church, he took classes at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City and had his orders recognized to become an elder in full connection in the Missouri Conference.
“I’m more and more convinced every day of the importance of our connection as United Methodists. It’s our biggest strength,” Pinnell said. “Being able to reach out to colleagues across the state, to tap into their wisdom or just find a sympathetic ear, is priceless.”
His later appointments included Trinity Moberly, Hamilton and his current appointment at St. Stephen in Troy. He’s found Troy to be a different experience than his previous locations, as urban influence increases.
“It’s a great church with wonderful folks, and the community is definitely transitioning into becoming a St. Louis suburb. There are a lot of people moving there from the city,” he said. “This month the church is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in the new building.”
Pinnell served four years on the Missouri Conference Congregational Development Team, and has been on the Clergy Support Team for eight years, serving as chair for the past four. Through that time he has helped the Conference work through changes in health insurance as it pertains to retirees, and changes relating to the Affordable Care Act.
Pinnell has three grown children, two in the Kansas City area and one in South Carolina, and eight grandchildren. He’s been married to his wife Sandy for 43 years.