Meet the Clergy and Lay Delegate Candidates for the UMC General and Jurisdictional Conference in 2024

Meet the Clergy and Lay Delegate Candidates for the UMC General and Jurisdictional Conference in 2024

April 27, 2023

Call for Iowa Delegation Nominees

In the summer of 2019, the Iowa Conference elected delegates to serve at the 2020 (now 2024) General Conference.  The majority of these leaders are (still!) excited and willing to serve on your behalf, but we have had some vacancies because of changes in status, life, or exits from the denomination.  As we prepare to head into 2024, we want to bring this delegation back up to full capacity so we can serve you well.  

In the wake of the delayed General Conference, the Judicial Council in December of 2022 affirmed the reserved right of an annual conference to vote on the election of clergy and lay delegates.  Our Iowa Rules of Order calls for an election at the Annual Conference before General Conference, so holding these two items in tension, we plan a vote to affirm the delegates we elected in 2019.  We will then turn to electing the additional 2 lay jurisdictional delegates, 6 clergy jurisdictional alternates, and 6 lay jurisdictional alternates for which we have vacancies.  The 2024 General Conference will be held April 23-May 3, 2024 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The 2024 Jurisdictional Conference will be held July 10-13, 2024 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  All members of the Iowa Delegation are part of our conversations about the matters before the church and even serving as a reserve is a great experience for future leadership opportunities.

Clergy Candidates

Rev. Alexis Johnson

I am a lifelong United Methodist. This church raised me in faith, nurtured my call, and is the place I have chosen to serve. I believe in the all inclusive love of God, the full participation of all people in the life and ministry of the church, and in a practice of personal piety that sanctifies us until we are made perfect in love. I believe our denomination has something to offer that the world desperately needs and we are ready to reclaim our world transforming mission. I do believe that our denomination should be and can be a home for all people, creating space for holy conferencing around the myriad of issues facing our world. Issues that need nuanced, healthy, bridge-building conversations that go beyond social media posts and click bait headlines. 

I have served on the Iowa Board of Ordained Ministry for almost 12 years and have been leading the Residence in Ministry program since 2020. This service, along with my work in the local church, has shown me that I have a gift for systems and structures work. It’s not always the most fun work to hear about, but it is the work that makes all ministry together possible. I have seen how our systems and structures need some changes to free us all up to accomplish our mission in the world. I am particularly passionate about all the ways people are called into ministry and how all of these are equally vital for the mission of the church. 

Rev. Daniel Niyonzima

I am a servant of God, I started to serve God in Burundi, Tanzania Refugee Camp, and now here in America. I would like to say that I have an important role here in Iowa and Omaha because I was able to start church service for African refugees in their languages, also connecting them with the United Methodist Church. Therefore, in the problems facing our Church, I have a great
contribution how to maintain a good relationship between Natives and immigrants, especially those with whom we speak the same such as Swahili, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Kimoso, as well as French. Because I know them well and I have lived with them for a long time as their Pastor.

If I could be allowed to go to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, that would be a good thing.


Rev. Brian Williams

I am committed to serving Christ through the United Methodist Church. In my ordination I promised to further its witness, a witness which has been central in my life from baptism up through my call to ministry. This is my Church and it would be an honor to represent Iowa's faithful witness to the Jurisdiction. 

My current appointment is as the Pastor at the United Methodist Church of Pella. Though sometimes a struggle, I find it a joy to serve a community that is diverse in opinion, but united in its commitment to serve, invite, nurture, and grow faithful disciples for Jesus Christ. We are finding our way with love when it comes to the issues of the day. This church does well at making space for inclusion of all kinds, even amid disagreement, and it reflects the kind of spirit I aim to bring to my ministry as I seek to be a part of a denomination with a wide embrace for folks of all stripes without regard to race, gender, sexuality, or political affiliation. 

I serve as Secretary on the District Committee on Ministry for the Riverview Park District. On the Conference level, I am a member of the Bishop's Operational Team. I also am a member of the Innovation Circuit, a non-geographical circuit focuses on innovative ways to do ministry with laity. 

Rev. Timothy Bonney

I am an Elder in Full Connection in the Iowa Conference. I serve as Pastor of Indianola First UMC, a Reconciling congregation where I am in my sixth year of appointment. I have been serving on both the Riverview Park dCom and the Board of Ordained Ministry for the past six years. I chaired the dCom for five years and serve as a co-chair for examinations for the BoOM. I’ve also had the opportunity to serve on the Annual Conference worship planning committee for three years and on the Board of Church and Society. 

As a pastor who chose to become part of the United Methodist Church as an adult, I was attracted to the UMC because of our theology of God’s grace and our emphasis on personal and social holiness. I believe that our proclamation that Christ’s table is open to all who seek Christ points us to the kind of open, inclusive, caring and accepting Church we must be. I am committed to the United Methodist Church, and I am committed to the full inclusion of all persons, including LGBTQ+ persons, into the life and ministry of our church at all levels. I also strongly support efforts for the Iowa Conference to become an anti-racist conference. 

As someone who has been so very blessed to be accepted into this family of faith, I hope to be a voice for drawing the circle of God’s love wide to include all of God’s children. 

Rev.  Medea Saunders

I have been active in the Iowa Conference for 40 years, as a youth, lay person, seminarian, and elder. I fell in love with Jesus at Camp Wesley Woods and stayed in love with Jesus at my local Wesley Foundation. I have served in many capacities as a clergy person, including Campus Minister, Wesley Foundation Director, Hospice Chaplain, and Pastor. I have served on DCOM, BHECM, Board of Camps, CF&A, and MFSA, locally; and on the GBHEM, NCMA, and UMCMA, in the General Church. For many years I was Dean of the School for Ministry. I am married to Scott for 22 years, and am a mother and grandmother. I live in Des Moines, IA, and own a small farm in Russell, IA. I currently work in extension ministries. I lament the breaking of the body of our UM denomination and pray that the way forward is one of welcoming all people in God's love as our vision, and prioritizing the poor and the marginalized voices as our mission. I pray that we will leave the well of healing and forgiveness as inspired evangelists, sharing the good news of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ in our homes, our neighborhoods and our world.  I feel it is my job to remain engaged, to listen, and to pray. I will use my voice to advocate for a church that fully engages and welcomes women and children, people of color, LGBTQIA+ folx, and the poor.

Lay Candidates

Martha Chancellor

I am a life-long United Methodist, first inspired to become a follower of Jesus by John Wesley's words and life. I completed School for Lay Ministry in 2017, went on to take Advanced Courses, be interviewed, and complete psychological testing in order to be commissioned as a Certified Lay Minister. I am currently the "Charge Coordinator" for the St. Ansgar and Osage First United Methodist churches in Mitchell County, hired at an hourly rate since July of 2022 when we lost our pastor. I facilitate hiring guest pastors, setting up services, Christian education, and pastoral and congregational care for the two churches. I also preach occasionally when no guest pastor is available. In the district, until recently, I served on the district Laity Committee and as Lay Leader of my Circuit.  I participated in the state-wide training for Circuit Ministry.  

My ministerial focus has been on doing what I can to promote the truth of God's infinite, unfathomable love for every person and every part of creation. Our denomination encourages reason, experience, and tradition in addition to scripture when discerning God's teaching and plans for us. John Wesley is given credit for being the first to publish the phrase, "agree to disagree." As we face the future, our greatest focus should be on Jesus' commandments to us: Love God, and Love Your Neighbor As Yourself, not on any particular doctrinal disagreements. Each and every one of us is precious, unique, and created for a limitless purpose in God's sight. 

Nancy Steckelberg

I am active in my local church as the Administrative Council Chair and the president of the United Women in Faith unit.  As a Certified Lay Speaker, I fill the pulpit in the absence of the pastor and travel to do so for other churches in the area.  I also sing in the choir and play the piano for church services occasionally.

I was chosen to serve as the Co-Leader of the local circuit, a member of the district leader's circuit, and a member of the District Lay Servant Ministries Committee.  I was recently asked to join the District Committee on Ministries.  I also teach the Basic Lay Servant Ministries course with my husband.  I have been a Lay Member to Iowa Annual Conference for nearly fifteen years.  

I have considered the gay marriage and ordination issue and believe that the vetting process should reveal the true character of a preacher, and that is the most important issue, not their sexual preference.  We need to get past this issue because too much time has been wasted on it.  We need to love others as God loves us. The denominational separation that is going on currently is a very sad issue.  Many church congregations are broken because of gay issues, and they won't accept or discuss it either.  Again, we are called to love, not to judge.  We are not being a loving example, and we are stifling the growth of this church with the negative talk in the UMC.

 Joseph Steckelberg

I am a member of the First United Methodist Church in Independence, Iowa.  I have been an active member of this church since 2013.  I was encouraged by the pastor of the church to participate in the Living Last Supper presentation several years ago.  I took the role of the Roman soldier who ordered Jesus to carry his cross to Calvary.  The opportunity to join this group and the comradery with the men of our church made a big impact on my faith and my devotion to the church.

Through the encouragement of several people in my current church, I have become involved in numerous educational opportunities and committee work at the local, district, and conference levels.  I graduated from the School of Lay Ministry in 2018. I have continued taking several Advanced Courses for Lay Servant Ministry that have been offered in our district.  I have assisted my wife in teaching the Basic Lay Servant Ministry Course.  

I am currently an active member of the Conference Higher Education Committee.  I have recently been asked to join the District Committee on Ministry.  In my local church, I am the Co-Lay Leader and a member of the Mission Committee.

I have been a Lay Member of the Iowa Annual Conference for many years.  The opportunity to participate in the Jurisdictional Conference would mean that I can help make important decisions for the future of our church.  I'm very concerned about the mission and growth of our church.

Phyllis Warren

I have served on many committees of my local church; Ad Council, finance, mission, evangelism, and as a member of the pulpit supply group. I completed Lay Ministry School at Morningside College in Sioux City in 2007. I am a certified Lay Servant and Lay Speaker. I have served in my District as a member of DCMC and presently serving as the Chair of the Camp Clear Lake Nominations committee. On the Conference level, I served two terms on the Equitable Compensation Board and a term on the Committee on Pastoral Care and Counseling. I am presently serving on the Conference Nominations Committee.  

I have been a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church and believe that all people are made in the image of God, have worth, and are Children of God.  I believe it is the work of the Laity to show that love to all people and to make our churches welcoming safe places. It is the Laity’s mission/work to provide encouragement, opportunity, and support to our children and youth, providing whatever is needed so that they may know and feel God’s love. The primary issues of the church about which I’m concerned include the lack of clergy, especially for the rural areas, the growing disinterest of the laity in the workings of the church, issues around disaffiliation, and full inclusion in the church. 

Susan Weight 

I am a retired teacher and lifelong United Methodist. I grew up in the small town of Creston, Iowa, and after marriage, moved all around the country for my husband and my occupations.  I have taught in inner-city schools in Washington, DC, Atlanta, Omaha, and Kansas City. Since moving back to Creston, Iowa, I have been a substitute teacher.

I have a passion for mission and ministry in the church, community, and world. I believe that all people should be welcomed in the church and have full participation in the church, including LGBTQIA+ individuals.  

I have been the mission chairperson and Administrative Council chairperson for our church. I have also been the president and treasurer of our local UMW, and I currently have been serving district-wide for the last three years as the mission and interpretation co-chair for United Women in Faith. 

I also serve on our local Human Rights Council and support equality for all children of God.  I work to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice in our society or who have been pushed aside.  I also coordinate our church's monthly participation in the Creston Area Food Pantry, Inc.