A Farewell and A Welcome
At the end of 2022, our former Senior Minister accepted a call to be the minister for his home church in Massachusetts. He was our minister for seven years and will be greatly missed for his spiritual leadership and social justice awareness.
Fortunately, we are blessed to have the Rev. Lynette Ross as our Interim Minister as we begin our search for our next Senior Minister. Rev. Ross has frequently preached from our pulpit and is a familiar face to our members. She will ably continue our tradition of thoughtful sermons and social justice initiatives.
A New Beginning
At the Congregational Meeting on October 29, our Congregation enthusiastically voted “yes” to elect the Rev. Tony Minear, Ph.D. from Phoenix, AZ, as our next settled minister at First Congregational Church of Houston. On behalf of the search committees, the staff church relations committee, and the whole congregation, we are delighted to welcome Rev. Tony and his wife Karen to Houston and to FCC!
Rev. Minear’s first Sunday with us will be December 3.
About Rev. Tony Minear, Ph.D.
Rev. Minear has a Ph.D. in biblical studies from the University of Toronto. He was an associate professor of religion for 12 years at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. He has served three different UCC churches as a senior pastor. Rev. Minear comes to FCC from Church of the Beatitudes in Phoenix, AZ, a UCC congregation where he was pastor from 2017-2023. Previously, he served as senior pastor at St. John Evangelical UCC in Collinsville, IL (2010-2016), and First Congregational Church in Mansfield, OH (2006-2010). Prior to that, he served in leadership positions at churches in Nebraska and California.
In our interviews with Rev. Minear, the search committee found him to be personable and an intelligent, creative thinker. He is a skilled speaker who delivers thoughtful sermons without using notes. Rev. Minear’s candidate sermon from October 29 can be found on YouTube.
Rev. Minear is committed to FCC’s open and affirming community, an excellent listener, and a skilled administrator. We believe he will continue the outstanding leadership that has been provided by our previous minister and our current interim.
The following are comments from his references:
- “Tony’s sermons are consistently relevant and prompt the reflection and calls to action that I crave for my spiritual life.”
- “Tony has an acute sense of social justice.”
- “Tony is an excellent preacher and promotes progressive ways of exploring our faith and spirituality.”
- “Tony is a logical, deliberate and creative thinker.”
These are Rev. Minear’s words from his candidate profile:
“I am committed to following my passion in ministry. I value communities that are eagerly exploring or have already embraced progressive theology and are committed to being or becoming radically welcoming. Why? Because I believe more and more people are looking for a community that is authentic, not afraid to ask and listen to challenging questions, and that love and accept unconditionally.”
He grew up in the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church and pastored SDA churches early in his career. But he later left the conservative evangelical denomination for the UCC church, where he admired the greater intellectual and spiritual freedom offered to pastors and those in the congregation.
“To be free to explore wherever my mind might take me and actually have that valued by a community was invigorating,” he said. “I also recognize the importance of allowing others the same freedom. Therefore, I operate from the premise, ‘expose but not impose.’”
Minear said he is passionate about preaching, creativity, and spirituality. He enjoys helping churches find or renew their sense of purpose and mission. What drew him to FCC? “I think your church is really offering something unique,” he said, noting descriptions on our website of FCC being an oasis of progressive Christianity in Houston. “I want to do my part in making Jesus’ vision of a reign of God’s love real in my little corner of the world,” he said.
A native of Glendora, CA, Minear and his wife Karen have two adult daughters and five grandchildren who live in Lincoln, NE.
Rev. Ross has a capable staff to help with worship and Christian education. Kelly Stevens is our Christian Education Coordinator. David York is our Director of Music. Stevie Berryman is our Director of Handbells. And James Yeargan coordinates the streaming of our Sunday worship.
Administrative matters at FCC are handled by Vicki Shimer, our Director of Membership and Administration. Vicki coordinates the efforts of our lay leadership and the day-to-day business of our church. Vicki is aided in this task by our Administrative Assistant, Jess Faerman.