Meet Our Church Staff
Rev. Stephen sanders
Stephen Sanders serves as Oak Hill’s lead pastor. Stephen grew up in San Antonio, then attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. After college he worked for a consulting firm, primarily helping companies design and install large computer systems. In 1993 he left the corporate world to respond to God’s call to ordained ministry. He attended seminary at Emory University, Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA. He served as a pastor in Tennessee, then returned to San Antonio to be near family. He served at Coker United Methodist Church in San Antonio for five years, and Spring Creek United Methodist Church for twelve years. Stephen and his wonderful wife, Mary, have been married for 29 years. They have two sons – David (age 23) and James (age 21). They enjoy being together as a family – hiking, cooking good meals, and enjoying nature. Stephen’s passion for ministry is discipleship. He wants to help people grow and mature in their Christian faith. From helping people engage in meaningful Bible study, to learning how to pray, to giving of themselves on mission projects, he wants to help people grow in faith and connect it with their lives. In addition to spending time with family and serving in ministry, Stephen enjoys visiting with friends, good exercise (hiking, biking, playing tennis), excellent books (particularly classic literature), and spending time on their family’s small farm. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of Pastoral Care
rev. Missy jenson
Rev. Missy Jenson has been a United Methodist her whole life as her father served as a pastor in the Rio Texas Conference throughout her childhood. As a result, she grew up all over South Texas: Cuero, Corpus Christi, Brady, Gonzales, and San Antonio. She attended Southwestern University and graduated in 2004 with a B.A. in Religion. Then she moved to North Carolina to study at Duke University Divinity School, where she graduated with her Master of Divinity in 2007. She was ordained an elder in The United Methodist Church in 2010. Since her graduation from seminary in 2007, she has served at Lake Travis UMC (Austin), First UMC (New Braunfels), Tarrytown UMC (Austin), First UMC (Goliad) and now Oak Hill UMC. Pastor Missy is passionate about serving Christ through missions around the world and connecting with people to discover who we are as the Body of Christ and who we were individually created to be by God. She enjoys listening to personal stories of encounters with the divine, creating unique and meaningful ways to deepen our spiritual lives, and simply being present with others for the ordinary and holy moments life brings. When she’s not working or “momming,” you can find Pastor Missy listening to podcasts or audiobooks of all kinds or let’s be honest…napping! She also occasionally enjoys cross-stitching and during basketball season, she’ll be [loudly] cheering on the Duke Blue Devils. Email: email@example.com
Pastor, Youth & Young Adult Ministries
Rev. Ryan jenson
Ryan was raised in Austin and actually became a member of Oak Hill UMC way back in the mid-90s while in high school. He was active in the youth ministry and the youth choir and remained active in the church during his college years while attending the University of Texas. He graduated in 2003 with a B.A. in Finance, but before stepping into a career in banking he recognized a call to ministry and headed north to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary outside of Chicago. In 2007, Ryan graduated with his Master of Divinity and headed back to Texas to begin his first appointment at First UMC (San Marcos). Since then he has served in two other appointments: the United Campus Ministry (Texas State University) and First UMC (Victoria). Ryan’s passion for ministry comes from working with young people, and he has had the great privilege of doing so in each of his appointments over the years. He loves the transformation that happens on mission trips and retreats, but also enjoys witnessing the everyday growth young people experience as they struggle with and begin to own their faith. Living life with people is what it’s all about for Ryan, and he appreciates the opportunity to bring encouragement into those relationships along the way. Some of the things Ryan enjoys doing are watching movies, reading books, and hanging out with his wife and kids. But, when it comes right down to it, he is a game enthusiast. Whether it’s playing crazy games throwing hotdogs or popping balloons full of shaving cream with the youth, rounding up some folks for some lawn games, or dusting off the board games, cards, or dominoes, he loves to have fun. But just know that once the games are out, Ryan is no longer responsible for his competitive streak. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Music Ministries
Louise Kemp Avant
Louise Kemp Avant grew up in Austin, Texas, graduating from McCallum High School and obtaining a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin. She has sung in many academic and community choirs, most recently with the Conspirare Symphonic Chorus. She taught elementary music and high school choral education in central Texas schools for several years, then served as Music Director at area churches, culminating in the position of Minister of Music at First Baptist Church of Austin for 24 years. Following her retirement Louise served as Interim Music Director at 3 Austin churches before taking the Oak Hill UMC Director of Music Ministries position. She has produced and served as vocal coach and pianist for stage musicals such as Godspell, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Pippin, The Fantasticks and Man of La Mancha. She also uses her considerable piano skills as a collaborative pianist in the Austin and Dripping Springs area and serves as an accompanist for the DSHS choral and band programs. In her free time, she loves to garden, visit with friends and spend time with her 2 beautiful and super smart grandchildren!
Director of Connections and Service
Vicki helps visitors and members alike connect with opportunities for growth and service—before they become overwhelmed with all that goes on in our church! Email: email@example.com Where did you grow up and how did you make your way to Austin? I am a native Texan spending my youth in Paris, Texas (second largest Paris) in the northeast corner of the state. My husband and I were both journalists and made our way to Austin in the early ’80s for him to take a position as a writer with the Austin American-Statesman. What is your former work experience? The majority of my career has been spent in educational public information, spending the last 20 years of my work within the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin promoting stories about student achievements and faculty research. This was quite a challenge for someone who took “science for non-majors” while in college, but it taught me that I can be stretched. When did you start at Oak Hill UMC? We began attending Oak Hill UMC regularly in the mid-80’s about the time that our first child was born. What are your primary duties? I love my job because I get paid to talk to people, helping them identify their interests and thus opportunities to plug in to the life of this vibrant faith community. What do you enjoy most about your job? I get to talk to people. How does your position help minister to others? I joined my adult Sunday school (small group) more than 15 years ago and went on my first mission trip shortly after. Neither were engagement opportunities that I knew I needed, but both have enriched my life in ways I could not have imagined. I love the opportunity to help others find this same joy by connecting them to the programs within Oak Hill UMC that meet their skills and interests. What is one thing that few people know about you? When I was a child, I used to write and produce a summer play for all of the kids in the neighborhood to have roles. We would talk our mothers into baking cookies and making lemonade, then charge them to come to the production and buy snacks. Describe Oak Hill UMC in one word. Missional
Director of Preschool
Jennifer coordinates, plans and executes all activities related to the Preschool, and provides teacher training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Where did you grow up and how did you make your way to Austin? I grew up in the small southeast Texas town of Liberty. I have one older sister and two younger brothers. My parents are from West (by God) Virginia, so I love a good hillbilly joke! I married Art Barkis in 1992, and we moved to Austin in 1994 when he was transferred for work from Houston. What is your former work experience? Prior to working at Oak Hill UMC, I was a stay-at-home mom to Emma, Dru, and Lucy. Before we began our family, I worked in an orthopedic practice and completed my master’s degree at the “Harvard of the Hill Country”—Texas State University. I earned my bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University. My field of study was community health education. When did you start at Oak Hill UMC? I first began working at Oak Hill UMC in 2002 as the nursery coordinator. In 2004 I began teaching in the Kid’s Day Out program. Then, in 2005, I began teaching in the preschool. I was hired as the director of preschool ministries in December 2015. What are your primary duties? As the director of preschool ministries I am responsible for the successful operation of the preschool. This includes, but not limited to, hiring and training new staff members, complying with Texas Minimum Standards, and welcoming new families and children to our preschool family. What do you enjoy most about your job? My favorite part of the day is when I am greeting students and their parents at the front door as they enter the building to go to school. How does your position help minister to others? We have new families who come to our preschool who do not already have a church home. I am able to invite them to attend church events that are offered throughout the year. For some parents, when their child is happy and feels safe at Oak Hill UMC, they will take that opportunity to begin attending worship service. What is one thing that few people know about you? My favorite princess is Snow White, and when I was a child I had two Snow White-themed birthday parties! Describe Oak Hill UMC in one word. AWESOME!
Pam directs the physical operations of the church office, coordinates church activities, prepares the Sunday bulletins, and supports and supervises paid and volunteer office staff. She serves as the entry point for inquiries about the church. She also compiles and print all bulletins, staff meeting agendas, and track attendance for worship. She works with a phenomenal team of office volunteers that help keep the database current and membership straight. Email: email@example.com
As Facilities Administrator, Daniel is responsible for the maintenance of all church campus facilities, which includes all buildings, grounds, equipment, furniture, tools, vehicles, and related supplies. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Where did you grow up and how did you make your way to Austin? I am from San Marcos. I’ve been working in Austin for the better part of 20 years now. What is your former work experience? I worked as an event planner/coordinator and as a manager of facilities. When did you start at Oak Hill UMC? I was hired as facilities administrator on May 29, 2017. What are your primary duties? In a nutshell, I am responsible for building upkeep, coordinating and completing daily maintenance tasks, and outsourcing contract work and supplies. What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the day-to-day interaction with staff—all of whom are great to work with! How does your position help minister to others? I believe that by making a place more presentable for staff, members, and visitors, they feel more welcomed and comfortable, and their time here more pleasurable. What is one thing that few people know about you? I watch more international films and TV shows than U.S. films and TV broadcasts. Describe Oak Hill UMC in one word. Great!