Northaven UMC Announces New Senior Minister

With the new year will come a new senior minister for Northaven United Methodist Church – but that new face is a familiar one for Dallas Methodists.

The Rev. Ann Willet, executive minister at First United Methodist Church-Dallas, will move to Northaven in February, both churches announced Tuesday.

Northaven senior minister Rev. Marti Soper announced her retirement earlier this month. Soper has been with the church for two-and-a-half years.

Rev. Marti Soper

“I have been challenged to be the best I could be and I have been blessed by the incredible leadership, passion, and creativity that lives in this church,” Soper said in a letter to the church. “I have been inspired by your commitment to inclusion and your advocacy for justice. I have marveled at your resilience as you dug deep during these last nine months, pivoting our ministry to online platforms, and innovating new ways to stay connected, engaged and growing in faith.”

Soper said her husband has been retired for four years, and it was time for the couple to “start a new phase of life.”

“We would like to be more available to my parents in North Carolina, and to all of our kids and grandkids in the Boston area,” she said. “Our newest granddaughter, Zella, is luring us to New England and we hope to make that move as soon as we can.”

In his announcement to FUMC-Dallas members, senior minister Andy Stoker had high praise for Willet.

“After four and a half years at FirstChurch, Ann has brought an energy and excitement for ministry as senior leader with our staff and our lay leadership,” he said. “As an administrator, preacher and teacher, Ann has left an indelible mark on our congregation. She is uniquely gifted to serve Northaven and will be taking the FirstChurch spirit with her.

“Although we will miss her presence at FirstChurch, we rejoice that her passion and leadership will continue for the Methodist witness in North Texas.”

Prior to joining FUMC-Dallas, Willet was senior minister at Ridgewood Park United Methodist Church. A graduate of Baylor University with degrees in journalism and business, she earned her MBA from Texas A&M and had a first career in banking and finance.

Within a few years of joining First United Methodist Church in Rockwall in 1994, she began her studies at Perkins School of Theology – when her daughters were 12, 10, and 7.

She has also served as associate minister at Walnut Hill United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church-Richardson. She was also senior minister at First United Methodist-Royse City.

She is also involved in several committees in the United Methodist Church North Texas Conference.

“After the holidays, we will be planning a safe and socially distanced ‘meet and greet’ event so that you can welcome Ann and her husband, Loren, to the Northaven family,” Northaven UMC lay leaders Martha Stowe and Julie Reeves told members.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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