St. Paul UMC Getting New Pastor
By LORETTA FULTON
A new pastor will be serving St. Paul United Methodist Church effective July 1.
Bobby Wilson, current pastor of St. Paul’s UMC in El Paso, was announced Sunday morning, March 13, as the new minister, replacing Steve Patterson, who has been at St. Paul since July 2019. Patterson was appointed as pastor of St. John’s UMC in Stamford, effective July 1, according to the Northwest Texas Annual Conference website.
Wilson, who grew up in Florida, said in an introductory letter that he previously served churches in the Panhandle community of Memphis, Borger, and El Paso. All of the churches are in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
“One of my greatest joys in ministry is helping the local church meet, connect with, learn about, and serve their local community,” Wilson said in the letter. “ I am looking forward to working with St. Paul UMC and serving our local community by sharing the grace and love of Jesus Christ with our neighbors.”
Wilson and his wife, Cheryl, are the parents of two boys, Matthew, 9, and Jon Luc, 7. Wilson has served several positions in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference, including chairing the Northwest Texas innovation and Revitalization Team.
When Patterson was appointed to St. Paul in July 2019, it marked a return to the area where he started as a minister. Patterson began his ministry in 1991 at the United Methodist Church in the Jones County community of Avoca. Patterson told about his journey to ministry in an interview in 2019 with Loretta Fulton for the Abilene Reporter-News.
A native of Hobbs, New Mexico, Patterson, didn’t take the traditional route to ministry, although he began feeling the nudge before actually beginning the process of becoming a United Methodist minister.
“At church camp was where I really felt this call,” he said in the 2019 interview.
After graduating from Hobbs High School in 1977, Patterson enrolled at the University of New Mexico with the intention of becoming an architect. After two years, he switched to a general studies major and eventually moved back to Hobbs, where he and a partner started a business constructing oil and gas plants.
The business grew and prospered but that call toward ministry that Patterson first felt at church camp never entirely went away. In September 1991, Patterson left the business world for a new life as a full-time minister.
“I walked away from everything,” he said, “not knowing really where we were going.”
Following is the introductory letter from Wilson to the congregation of St. Paul UMC in Abilene:
“My name is Bobby Wilson, and I am excited to become your new pastor in July and our future opportunities to serve Jesus Christ together. I grew up in Florida, graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in History (warning: I am a big Florida Gator sports fan), and graduated from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University with a Master of Divinity degree. Please call me Pastor Bobby, Rev. Bobby, or my preferred “Bobby.”
I am technically a “second career” pastor. Before attending seminary, I was a law enforcement officer for seven years with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (Tampa, FL). I served in the U.S. Army for ten years as a Logistics Officer. I served in the Army Reserves, but I was activated quite a bit during that time. I have also served as a Youth Director for a couple of churches.
I am married to my amazing wife Cheryl, and we have two boys, Matthew and Jon Luc. Cheryl is an educator who has taught multiple subjects. Matthew is nine years old and is in fourth grade, and Jon Luc is turning 8 in a couple of weeks and is in the second grade. They are very active boys and live into their calling as “Pastor’s Kids.”
I have served as pastor in two churches in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference, FUMC Memphis, FUMC Borger, and St. Paul’s El Paso. In addition, I have served on the Amarillo District Strategic Ministries Team, the Northwest Texas Ministries Action Team, and served as the Chairperson for the Northwest Texas Innovation and Revitalization Team. One year ago, I helped lead a preaching cohort hosted by the Center For Preaching Excellence at Perkins School of Theology.
One of my greatest joys in ministry is helping the local church meet, connect with, learn about, and serve their local community. I am looking forward to working with St. Paul UMC and serving our local community by sharing the grace and love of Jesus Christ with our neighbors. Another great joy I have in ministry is leading bible studies and discipleship groups.
This message is just a bit about myself and my family. As we meet one another and spend time together, you will learn a lot more about us, and we are looking forward to getting to know you all!
So, until we meet, you all are in my prayers as you prepare for this transition.”
Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene