Leadership

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.”


Ezra Howe – Director of Youth and Tweens

I majored in religion studies in my undergraduate degree at Trevecca Nazarene University.  I graduated at 2016 and went back to Florida (home) for two years.  In 2018 I came back to Nashville and enrolled in Vanderbilt Divinity School for their master of theological studies.  I have been working in the youth and children departments since 2008 at the First Church of Nazarene Bradenton, Florida. Then I worked almost two years at Sarasota YMCA as a counselor and an assistant manager to a school site.  Now I have the honor to serve at McKendree UMC while furthering my theological education.

I believe in the world that God created in diversity. My hope is to provide the next generation a wholistic understating of Christian faith and practice and in conversation with all the messiness of the world.  God’s will indeed is good, and surely we are responsible to do the rest.


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.


Emily Scott – Director of Children’s Ministry

Emily Scott is currently a student at Belmont University and is starting her junior year (Fall of 2018).  She is studying Christian Leadership with a minor in Spiritual Formation and is hopeful that she will spend from here on out doing the work of God and living out what she is called to do.

Emily moved to Nashville in May of 2017 from Birmingham, Alabama where she attended high school.  Her parents quickly made their move to Florida after that due to her Dad’s job so Emily now considers Nashville her home.  She came to McKendree Church not long after moving here and instantly fell in love with the ministries going on and is thrilled to be a part of it even more now.

Some fun things about Emily are that she loves pizza, enjoys a good movie with popcorn of course, and with the time allowed and wallet she could sit all morning sipping coffee and browsing on Amazon.  Emily is looking forward to serving this community and living out what God intends for each of us.


Jason Wayne — Facilities Manager

Jason Wayne is currently the Facilities Manager over McKendree United Methodist Church and the Christian Life Center.  He moved to Nashville at the end of July 2018, from Cincinnati, Ohio when his wife, Kayla Wayne, was hired as a teacher at the McKendree Day Care Center.  Jason is excited to make a difference here at McKendree by ensuring that the facilities are up to the task of being used by the Church in proclaiming the Gospel of reconciliation to God by grace through Jesus Christ.

Jason holds a B.A. in Humanities with a minor in Business from Cincinnati Christian University, is a Certified Welder from Mid-East Technical College, and has an Associate Degree in Entrepreneurship from Zane State College.  Before going back to school in 2012, Jason was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army where he was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington and deployed to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan in 2010.

Jason enjoys reading, watching movies, rock-climbing, hiking, backpacking, and is absolutely addicted to skiing, even though he does not get a chance to do it very often.


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.