Deja Vu: St. Paul UMC Names New Pastor
By LORETTA FULTON
For the second time in a little over a month, a new senior pastor has been named at St. Paul United Methodist Church.
Effective July 1, Benji Van Fleet will become the senior pastor. On Sunday, March 13, Bobby Wilson was announced as the new pastor, also effective July 1. But Wilson, current pastor of St. Paul’s UMC in El Paso, backed out of the appointment, made by the bishop of the Northwest Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The following announcement was issued Sunday, April 24, by Bob Warner, chair of the St. Paul Staff-Parish Relations Committee:
”The NWTX Cabinet is proud to announce that Rev Benji Van Fleet has been appointed the new Senior Pastor of St. Paul UMC effective 1 July 2022. Pastor Bobby Wilson, after much prayer and discernment, asked the Bishop and the Cabinet for reconsideration of the appointment to St. Paul for personal reasons. Let us all now rejoice in this new appointment with Rev. Benji Van Fleet, his wife Anna, and their son Abe as well look toward the future together.”
Benji Van Fleet currently is pastor of First UMC in Stanton, near Big Spring. He grew up in Lubbock and earned a bachelor’s degree in the Russian language, with a minor in architecture, from Texas Tech in 2009. He earned a master of divinity, with an emphasis on spiritual formation, from Logsdon Seminary at Hardin-Simmons University in 2015. Van Fleet did post-graduate and advanced course of study work at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky from 2016 to 2018.
While a Logsdon student, Van Fleet served as part-time pastor of Noodle Baptist Church. He also was pastor of First UMC in Munday from 2016 to 2020. He has been at Stanton since 2020.
The Van Fleets will celebrate their 12th anniversary in July. Anna Van Fleet is an alumna of Baylor University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Texas. She is also a pianist, and loves to use her gifts in ministry with youth, adults, and in worship.
Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene