Lead Team

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.”

Linda Furtado – Minister of Worship, Arts, & Media

Linda Furtado embodies Christian experience amidst many roles, positions, and servant leadership as part of the TN Conference of The United Methodist Church from childhood. As a representative of this conference, she brings a perspective of depth and breadth. To name a few influential factors in her development, she is African American, under age 40, a first-time General Conference delegate, mother of three girls, clergywoman pastor’s kid, pastor’s wife, musician, artist, lay minister, seminary student, and certified candidate for ordained ministry.

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'FOREVERMORE'

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. You can learn more about Eric at ericcoomer.com.

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

Ezra Howe – Director of Children, Youth and Tweens

Ezra Howe is Director of Children and Youth at McKendree UMC. Ezra graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University and is currently studying at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN. Ezra previously served as an Intern Youth Pastor at the Asheville Nazarene Church, Associate Minister at the Coastal Church North Port (formerly known as Coastal Community Church) and was part of the Sarasota YMCA Children’s Program Organizer Team. Ezra has a passion for inter-religious dialogue and early Christian education. He is convinced 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. Ezra believes this work of diversity in the Kingdom on earth begins in early Christian education.

Bonnie Fernandez – Ministry Admin Ast & Communications

Since joining this great team in July of 2019, I have been able to experience both sides of the coin so to speak, as I am member of Grace Place church in Hermitage.  I have a vast experience in business and financial management, gaining most of my skills coming from my younger entrepreneurial spirit.  I have a natural creative talent for designing and creativity. I care deeply for those who are hurting from separation and divorce and facilitate a DivorceCare Ministry. I’ve completed three years of “Leadership Focus”, giving me the opportunity to become licensed or ordained, God willing, in the Church of God.

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

My life as a church organist began at the age of 14 when I assumed the duties at my hometown Episcopal church in Lead, South Dakota. Since then I have followed several paths but all related to education or music.   I graduated from Stanford University, and have been an elementary school teacher, a public school activist, and an award winning education writer, but my passion for music would always re-direct my life if I was off the music path for very long. Prior to becoming the organist at McKendree, I served for 12 years as the organist at St. Philip’s Episcopal church.  I had supposedly retired when I happened to serve as a substitute organist at McKendree one Sunday in 2015 and was immediately drawn to the diversity and the spirit that guides this place.  I have truly felt blessed to be here since.  I am married to Richard Pride, a retired Vanderbilt political science professor, and the two have three married children and six grandchildren.

Cindy Ligon – DayCare Director 

I was the founding director of our day care program in 1990, I am passionately committed to offering high quality child care to families in the downtown community.  Additionally, I’m an avid trainer, advocate, and leader in the early childhood education community; I currently serve as the President of the Tennessee Association for Children’s Early Education. I have two grown sons, and share my life with my husband Jay and our two rescued pit bull mixes. 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 – Restoration Pointe

Bobby brings over 35 years of non-profit organization development and fundraising experience to the Restoration Pointe in support of its ministries of caring for our unhoused neighbors and disrupting cycles of poverty. Prior to joining the Restoration Pointe’s Team on August 1, 2019, Bobby was self employed and served as a consultant for nonprofits and faith based organizations from 2016 to current. Also, served as interim CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of West GA & Chambers County from August 8, 2018 to March 31, 2019 He worked as Manager of Corporate Sponsorships with the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist Church from 2011 to 2016. The majority of his career, he worked with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a national youth serving organization headquartered in Atlanta, as a Regional Service Director and a Chief Executive Officer (1977 to 2010). His responsibilities included providing leadership and support to advance the mission of local Clubs in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and the Virgin Islands. Bobby is a graduated of Clark College (Clark Atlanta University), a United Methodist supported HBCU, with a BA degree in Business Administration / Management. His wife, Rev. Dr. Paula B. Smith, is Lead Pastor at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN. His daughter, Brieanna, graduated in May 2019 from Georgia State University in Atlanta with a law degree. Bobby, blessed with the gift of servant leadership, is a member of Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church and is active in several ministries in the local church and nonprofit organizations.