Brent Parker would be the first to tell you that his road to becoming pastor of The Woodlands UMC’s Woodforest campus was beyond unlikely.
For starters, as a graduate of TCU’s Brite Divinity School, he was ordained as a Disciples of Christ minister and not a Methodist. So when Jeff Olive, who was at the time the Texas Annual Conference’s Director of New Church Starts, approached him about leading a Methodist congregation, Brent knew it would mean having to walk away from a denomination that had been good to him.
Jeff mentioned churches all over southeast Texas, including the yet-to-exist Woodforest expansion of The Woodlands UMC. Out of all the possibilities, Woodforest was the only one Brent felt passionately about.
Unfortunately, it was also the only opportunity Jeff felt was basically off the table. The district was already in the midst of a nationwide search to fill the position at Woodforest, a new campus in what is one of the most anticipated master-planned communities north of Houston.
It seemed obvious that the UMC would prioritize a Methodist minister for the job, but Brent continued to insist to Jeff that it was the only position to which he felt called. At one point, Jeff invited Brent to attend a UMC training event in Dallas, hoping to encourage him to become more open to a move to the UMC.
Brent showed up and, over the course of the event, the worship and conversations began to warm his heart and to give him peace about switching denominations. Woodforest was the position that still called out to him the most. Brent can see the Lord at work through the process, making the impossible possible.
Brent joined The Woodlands UMC staff in the summer of 2015, and The Church at Woodforest launched the second Sunday of January 2016. In the time since, its growth has far exceeded expectations.
“God had set this in motion, that this was the time and I was the person to be a part of seeing this happen,” Brent says. “Something about me and my unique gift set — whatever that is — was necessary, and God was gonna need that and need me for this Woodforest community to grow and become what He intended it to be. And that’s where the excitement begins, because I don’t know what God’s waiting to do out here. Don’t pinch me. I’m excited to be a part of this team. It’s a dream world.”
Brent was brought into full connection as a UMC Elder at the May 2017 gathering of the Texas Annual Conference.
Brent and his wife, Kori, have three children: Caedmon, Kai and Kingston.