Meet Pastor Andrew Conard
On July 1, 2019 Andrew Conard became the pastor at Susanna Wesley UMC. Pastor Andrew previously served at Berryton UMC in Berryton, Kans. He is married to Nicole, also an ordained UMC minister, who serves as the Young Adults and Campus Ministry Coordinator for the UMC Great Plains Conference. Andrew and Nicole have two children, John and Anne.
Andrew is also involved in the UMC Great Plains Conference where he serves on the Board of Ordained Ministry and began serving as the Call Team chair on July 1, 2019. He was elected to serve as a Jurisdictional Delegate from the Great Plains for 2020, and is finishing up a five-year commitment to continuing education as part of the Advancing Pastoral Leadership program. This fall he will begin the Leadership Coach Intensive program at the Kansas Leadership Center.
What made you want to be a Pastor?
This a long story, though here are some of the highlights. I was a biology major in college at Pittsburg State University. I thought that I was going to work in a lab and discover the cure to some disease. I had the opportunity to work in a government lab the summer before my senior year in New York. It was a great experience. I was good at the work and I gained a great deal of experience. However, at the end of the summer, I couldn’t see myself doing that for my career or even next after I graduated. So, what now?
That fall, I had to figure out what was next. It was too late to change my major and studying to become a pastor was one of the many options I considered that fall. At a campus ministry retreat that fall, I was reading through the stories of Jesus calling the disciples. In John, some of John the Baptist’s followers see Jesus walk by and one says, “Look, there’s the Lord!” They go up to him and ask, “Where are you staying?” Jesus’ response was, “Come and see.” As I was reading, I felt God speaking to me through those words. The disciple’s question of “Where are you staying?” Was my question - “What about seminary?” Jesus’ response to me was, “Come and see.”
So, I first felt called to go to seminary, though at the time, I didn’t know whether that would lead to campus ministry, missionary work, youth ministry, being in the local church, or something else. I enrolled at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC and started that fall.
The summer after my first year at seminary, I had the opportunity to live and work in Yellowstone National Park as part of A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. I was a housekeeper during the week – cleaning cabins at the Lake Hotel. On the weekend, I lead a team of college students to lead worship for employees and guests at the park. It was up to me to lead this team to make sure that worship happened every week. It was during that summer that I felt called to be in the local church.
Favorite thing about your career?
I love the opportunity to help people and organizations take the next faithful step in their life with God and one another. Every person is in a different place in their spiritual journey. Whether someone isn’t sure if they believe in God or have been a deeply committed disciple for many years, there is always room for growth. I love to help people take the next step toward deeper love of God and people.
The same thing is true for organizations - local churches, annual conferences, and the denomination. There are strengths and weaknesses about where we are today. There is also a future to which God is inviting and calling us toward. I love helping congregations identify and take steps toward the future that God has in mind.
It is also a great blessing to be part of singular moments in the lives of individuals – funerals, weddings, deciding to follow Jesus, preparing for surgery, making significant life decisions, and many others. As pastor, I have the honor and privilege to be part of the lives of individuals and families during these times. I am grateful for the opportunity to help bring a reminder of God’s presence into these situations and more.
What is your all-time favorite book? (other than the Bible, of course)
This is a great question. Some of my favorites have been, the "Little House" series, Watership Down, The Grapes of Wrath, The Will of God by Leslie Weatherhead, and Transitions by William Bridges. Some have been great on my own, some in my role as a pastor, some with my family growing up, and some with my children as they grow up.
What is the last good book you read?
I just finished Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin. I am currently reading Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. They are both good in their own way. I am working on building up the habit of reading again in my life.
If you weren’t a pastor what would you do as a career?
If wasn’t a pastor, I could see myself being a systems engineer, leadership coach and consultant, or social media specialist.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy running (hobby or sport?). I enjoy taking photographs and connecting them with the words of scripture to create what I call Verse Images. You can find these online at https://verseimages.com. I continue to add images, as time allows. I enjoy working on our lawn and landscape. I always have a future project to make progress on our yard – new grass, add a tree, plant native flowers, etc. I put in a garden this spring and am looking forward to enjoying this produce in the weeks ahead.
I like to bake bread, though haven’t made much time for this in the transition of the past few months. Inspired by my wife, children, and the summer reading program at the library, I am working on adding reading in to this mix.
How did you meet your wife?
Nicole and I met on the first day of orientation at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC. We were both first year students, had most of our classes together, were study partners and got to know one another in the relatively small population that lived on campus. We started dating that fall. We were engaged the summer before our final year in seminary and had a months-long conversation about where we would live after we graduated. We finally determined that serving in the Great Plains was the right thing for us. In 2006 we graduated seminary, were married at Nicole’s home church in North Carolina, and moved across the country to begin serving as United Methodist pastors in the Kansas City area.
Most embarrassing song on your iPhone?
How You Get the Girl - Taylor Swift
What would you like us to call you? (i.e. Pastor Andrew, etc.)
I am glad for you to call me whatever you are most comfortable with. Andrew or Pastor Andrew would be fine. If people want to be more formal, great. If they want to be less formal, also great.
Tell us how to pronounce your last name:
Conard has two syllables: "Caw" - like what a crow says and "Nerd" - as in computer nerd. The emphasis is on the first syllable.
What are you most excited about as the new pastor of SWUMC?
I am so proud and honored to become the pastor at Susanna Wesley UMC. In every conversation that I have had about the congregation, I have heard stories of the wonderful ways that God is at work here. I am excited to learn more about the congregation, discover the opportunities in the community, and work together toward God’s dream for our congregation and community.
How to connect with Pastor Andrew:
Phone: (785) 925-7701
Personal Website: https://andrewconard.com