Rev. Andy Stoker appointed Associate Director
Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe has announced the appointment of Rev. Andrew Craig (Andy) Stoker as NTC Associate Director of Connectional Ministries with Children, Youth, Family and Camping Ministries, effective Jan. 1, 2009.
Dr. Stoker has been serving as Associate Pastor for Christian Formation and Community Outreach at First UMC, Denton, and also as an adjunct professor in the Department of Family Studies, Texas Woman’s University, Denton.
“Andy brings passion, vision, and a leadership to our conference ministries coupled with an unequaled wealth of experience and depth of knowledge in the areas in which he will serve,” says Assistant to the Bishop/Director of Connectional Ministries Rev. Fred Durham, who supervises all NTC programming.
A native of El Paso, Dr. Stoker is a graduate of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, where he served as a student intern at St. John’s UMC, Lubbock, and was certifi ed in Clinical Pastoral education as an undergraduate. He graduated from Texas Tech in 1997 with a degree in Communication Studies and moved to the Dallas area that year to enroll in Perkins School of Theology, SMU. He received
the Master of Divinity degree from Perkins in 2001 and the Ph.D. degree from Texas Woman’s University in Family Studies in 2007.
“I have sensed a call to ministry with youth and young people since I fi rst began in ministry,” Dr. Stoker says, noting that he particularly likes the “openness and fl uidity” of working with this age group.
His interest in young people grew into extensive studies of family systems, both in theory and in practical application. “I began doing a lot of reading about, not just how adolescents develop, but how families develop around them, and this culminated in my Ph.D. work,” he explains
In regard to the classic nature or nurture debate as to how individuals develop, Dr. Stoker says that his research has led to conviction that the answer is “both/and,” with adolescents not only
responding according to their genetic makeup, but also to socialization in their families and in the groups with which they are involved. “It’s the classic Wesleyan Middle Way,” he says with a chuckle.
Growing serious, Dr. Stoker says he perceives that there is a significant crisis in children and youth ministry in the United Methodist Church, with many persons in these key positions, who heavily influence the spiritual development of young persons, being either shorttimers or coming from outside the Wesleyan tradition.
These concerns have informed his volunteer work as recruitment chair of the NTC Board of Ordained Ministry, where he sees his role as helping develop a new understanding of holistic UM youth ministry that will lead to cultivation of lifelong discipleship.
Consistent with this priority, Dr. Stoker plans to focus on involvement in Perkins School of Youth Ministry and certification of youth workers in conference churches.
“Foundations are important, they involve building relationships with God, the church, and especially in youth ministry, with the world,” Dr. Stoker says.
Dr. Stoker adds that he is looking forward to starting his new responsibilities. “My goal for the fi rst year is not only to maintain what is already here, but to go into churches and listen, to make sure the churches know that they are supported. I am looking forward to being in greater ministry with those in children and youth ministry.”
He will also take a very active role in camping ministry and is looking forward to making Bridgeport Camp and Conference Center his offi ce during the summer camping season.
Prior to his appointment to First UMC, Denton, Dr. Stoker served as Minister with Youth at Greenland Hills UMC, Dallas. He also served as a student pastor in rural East Texas during his seminary days.
The Stoker family will continue to live in Denton. He is married to Megan Stoker, a registered nurse. The Stokers have two sons, Alexander Callahan, five, and Wesley Trent, four months.