Stephen Handy – Pastor

Stephen Handy is currently the lead pastor at McKendree UMC. Not only is he our pastor, he is visionary strategist and partnership collaborator of the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  He is a passionate communicator that desires to speak God’s truth so people of different cultures, experiences, neighborhoods, and all of God’s unique diversity can be reconciled through the unity in Jesus Christ.

Stephen is a strong advocate of restorative justice, serving the poor and needy, and participating in life groups for spiritual formation and accountability.  He is a firm believer in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle by honoring God with our bodies through our thoughts, words, and actions.  And ultimately Stephen loves spending time with God, family and friends by imitating JESUS CHRIST and making a lasting difference in our community and the world.

He loves to check out the latest movies, read the latest leadership books, learn from children and youth and hang out in the broader downtown community where Jesus Christ is creating a movement of transformation and a culture of discipleship.

Stephen and Shelley are married with three children and live in the Greater Nashville area. His go-to scripture is Philippians 4:13:  “I can do all through Christ who strengthens me.”

Ruth Baggett – Administrative Secretary

Ruth has served at McKendree since 1996, and is responsible for much of the church’s day-to-day work — greeting visitors, keeping the church calendar, scheduling appointments and assisting the pastoral staff in any way possible.  Ruth also oversees publication of the church newsletter, compiles and prints the worship bulletins, gives tours of the building, assists with financial records and interacts regularly with church members.

She has a B.A. in Christian Education with a specialization in children’s ministry, as well as a B.A. in missions with a minor in deaf ministry.  She has been an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God denomination and has served as an associate/children’s pastor in several churches.  Ruth also served a term as a missionary assistant in Uruguay, South America.

Ruth comes from a large family, and has over 30 nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Ruth enjoys reading, singing and working sudoku puzzles.   She also loves walking – 5K’s, 10K’s and has completed several half marathons.   Ruth participates every year in the Virginia Beach Half Marathon on Labor Day weekend.

Eric Coomer – Modern Worship Director

The child of a retired Methodist minister, Eric has been our Director of Modern Worship for 4 years. Eric has been leading worship since he was a teen and writing songs since he was just twelve.

A native of Kentucky, Eric resides in Old Hickory with his wife, Daphne and sons, Jackson and Evan. Eric recently released a 5 song CD called “The Vast Configuration of Things”.

Robert Johnson – Finance Manager

Robert has a B.S. from the University of Evansville, a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University, and Master’s degree in accounting from Belmont University.  He is an ordained United Methodist elder from the Indiana Conference, who shifted from pastoral ministry to serving the church through his love of numbers and accounting.  Over the past 5 years Robert served as Business Administrator at Belmont United Methodist Church.  He is married to Reverend Meg Lassiat, who is on staff at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry for the United Methodist Church.  Robert enjoys reading, running 5k races, music, and visiting the Smoky Mountains and Orange Beach.

Austin Jones – Youth Director

Austin is currently in his second stint as the Director of Youth Ministries here in McKendree.  He first served while earning his degree in Music Business at Belmont University. After graduation he went back to Texas to attend Texas A&M School of Law and then found his way back to us in 2014 and began serving as Youth Director in the spring of 2015.

Austin enjoys building relationships with the youth and helping them strengthen their faith on a daily basis. Austin is married to Kelsye and aside from hanging out with the youth and practicing law, Austin is a big Texas Rangers fan and enjoys grilling just about anything he can outside.

Joie Knorr – Traditional Worship Director

Joie has been with McKendree UMC for 8 years, and has served in her current position for the past four years. She started playing piano at 4 and began accompanying choirs and school musicals by 12. She studied various instruments growing up and into adulthood.

With an Associate of Arts degree in Mass Communication  and additional college credits in music education and music therapy, Joie writes and arranges for our bell band and choir.

Joie currently resides in Hermitage and has three children – Casey (married to Michael Hatton), Ben and Ally.  An avid fan of mysteries and puzzles, her Christmas cantata “One” is available on CD.

Cindy Ligon – DayCare Director 

McKendree UMC Church is proud to operate a high quality, three-star day care program in our Christian Life Center.  Cindy helped to open the center in 1990 and continues to direct this remarkable program.  She oversees an outstanding 20-member professional staff who care for 86 children, infants through five year olds.  She says McKendree is “a supportive and loving community that ensures ‘best practice’ for children, families, and staff.”

Cindy holds a B.S. in Child and Family Studies from the University of Tennessee and has
previously directed three other early childhood programs.  She serves on the board of the Tennessee Association for Children’s Early Education, is a former president of the Nashville Area Association for the Education of Young Children, and is active in the early childhood education community as a trainer, editor, and mentor.

Married to Jay Ligon, they are the parents of two grown sons, Peyton and Wes (and a 4-legged canine son, “Mr. Pants”).  Cindy enjoys spending time with her family, reading suspense thrillers, traveling, and creating art.

For more information on McKendree Daycare, click here.

Rick Quinn – Architect of Innovation & Discipleship Extension

Rick Quinn has been involved with the ministry of McKendree UMC in the neighborhoods of Nashville as co-architect with Pastor Handy of the Encounter@Edgehill ministry since its launch Easter of 2015 as well as with the planning and groundwork for the Encounter@MetroCenter.  Rick is also involved in the expansion, recruiting, and training portions of McKendree’s Life Group Ministry.

Rick has a B.A. in Religion from Trevecca Nazarene College and an M.Div. from Vanderbilt Divinity School.  He also did postgraduate work in the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt. He and his wife, Karla McMurtry Quinn have been married 28 years and they have two adult children, Taylor and Kirsten.

Rick enjoys reading and writing, listening to music, exploring pop culture, and spending time with his family and friends.


Brandy Bivens – Chair, Leadership Council

Brandy Bivens has been the Chair of our Leadership Council for two years. She first came to McKendree as a day care parent in 2007, and served on the Daycare Board in 2008. In her role as our Leadership Council Chair, Brandy has helped refine the vision for our church teams and motivate our volunteer leaders and staff. She has created a new strategic communications plan and has generated new ideas in our fundraising.

Brandy holds a B.S. in Political Science with a emphasis on Communications and has also done postgraduate work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Previously a lobbyist for many years, her professional passion centers around education and strategy.

Brandy has been married to Mike for 12 years and has one son, John, and two dogs she is obsessed with, Bacon and Jelly. Brandy loves to be at her family’s lake house and enjoys reading, puns, and podcasts.