Howard Garver has accepted a call from the Executive Board of Western District Conference to serve as Associate Conference Minister for Texas and Director of Church Planting beginning January 1, 2015. It was the role held by Gilberto Flores who retired January 31. Howard will be serving one week per month for the first eight months commuting from his home in Sarasota, Florida, where he is currently serving as Transitional Pastor for Bayshore Mennonite Church. He applied at the recommendation of Marco Guete, Conference Minister for Southeast Mennonite Conference and former WDC Associate Conference Minister in Texas. Howard is a new Mennonite who appreciates the wholistic perspective of following Christ in all of life in shared community with a missional purpose.
Howard grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. High school peers and teachers were the witnesses in Howard’s life that brought him to Christ. He is a graduate of Messiah College where he met his wife Becky from Abilene, KS. They served with Brethren in Christ World Missions in Venezuela for five years in support of church planting. He next served as an Associate Pastor at Collin Creek Community Church, 1997-2003, in Plano, Texas, which was a new Wesleyan church. During this time he also worked as Director of Evangelism and Church Growth with a focus on church planting in Louisiana, Texas, and Peru for the Wesleyan Church. He then served as the senior pastor of the Levant Wesleyan Church, Falconer, New York, from 2003-13. It was a church in substantial distress with a $1 million debt that he guided to stability and a new missional focus. He worked with a number of new missional initiatives in the community including Open Table, an accompaniment ministry for persons wanting to move out of poverty. In addition to mentoring, he prepared tax returns for low-income families.
In his acceptance Howard writes:
I am excited to join the Western District Conference! I understand what Paul was feeling as he wrote the letter to the Romans. He had heard a good report of their faith and wrote of his plans to be with them so that in some way he could contribute. We will begin the year commuting back and forth from Florida, getting to understand the history and vision of the congregations and conference. Later in the year, Lord willing, Becky and I will relocate to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in order to more fully engage in the work. We are humbled and honored by this call to serve Christ and his Church in this way. We ask for your prayers and grace as we begin.