Lead Team

Stephen Handy – Pastor


Stephen is the lead pastor visionary, strategist and partnership collaborator of the gospel message of Jesus Christ at McKendree UMC. 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. 

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.”

Image may contain: Ezra Howe, smiling, standing, outdoor and nature

Ezra Howe – Director of Children, Youth and Tweens


I am the director of Children and Youth at McKendree UMC. I graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University and currently studying at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. Previously, I have served as an intern Youth Pastor at the Asheville Nazarene Church, Associate Minister at the Coastal Church North Port and was part of the Sarasota YMCA Children’s Program Organizer Team. I am passionate for inter-religious dialogue and early Christian education. I believe that God loves without condition of race, class, and religion, and that a Christians’ responsibility is to bridge differences through communication, understanding, empathy and sympathy. I also believe this work of diversity in the Kingdom on earth begins in early Christian education.

Deborah Cole – Financial Manager


I began providing service to McKendree in October 2018. The journey has been rewarding and educational. My job involves accounting, system review and reconstruction and all that is financial. It is indeed a pleasure to work with the stakeholders of McKendree as we work to continue building a first class financial ministry.

Dana Pride – Organist

Providing music for Christian worship has been a part of my life since the age of 14, when I became the organist at my hometown Episcopal church in Lead, South Dakota. I have served several area churches in Nashville and joined the McKendree team in November 2015, following 12 years at St. Philip’s Episcopal church in Donelson. Although my background is the traditional form of worship, I’ve enjoyed expanding my knowledge of contemporary Christian music during my stay at McKendree. My husband, a retired Vanderbilt professor of political science, and I are the parents of three married children and grandparents of six.

Anthony Creasy – DayCare Director 

I joined the McKendree team as a preschool teacher in 2009 then moved into a new role as the centers Atelierista and Pedagogical Coach in 2018.  I bring exceptional skills as a provocative early educator where my knowledge and understanding of developmentally appropriate and progressive early childhood education programing, and strong gifts in leadership and communication.  I have earned both an AAS in Early Childhood Education, and a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Communications and Child Development. I’m a participating collaborator in the Middle Tennessee ECE community. For more information on McKendree Daycare, click here.

Tyler Blystone – Facilities Manager


I began working at McKendree in June of 2019.  I oversee the facility management of both McKendree UMC and the McKendree Christian Life Center.  My job duties are focused on maintaining and improving our buildings, keeping our facilities safe and secure, and helping meet the needs of those that work and worship at McKendree.   I’m originally from Mount Juliet, Tennessee, and have lived in the Nashville area most of my life.  I am married to a woman who grew up in Nashville, and we have one daughter.  I have many hobbies and interests, but most are centered around cooking or spending time outdoors.

Bobby Lee Smith Executive Director Restoration Pointe


Luke 22:27 NIV For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.  

I am so grateful to have answered the call of servanthood  and to bare-witness that being part of the Restoration Pointe Ministry for the past eight years at McKendree United Methodist Church has blessed me and my family beyond measures. Having the opportunity to serve, each day, our unhoused, displaced and homeless neighbors, in leadership with a supportive staff and caring congregation continues to strengthen my Faith as a believer and servant of Jesus Christ, who is among us and as one who serves.