The Rev. Brandy Stevens always has been active in the church, but it took her a while to start working there.
Stevens decided to enter the ministry full time after working 13 years as an accountant. The Southeast Texas native - she grew up in Nederland -has two bachelor’s degrees from Lamar University, one in accounting and another in general arts studies with minors in psychology and sociology.
But she has found her home in the ministry and recently was appointed to her first pastorate at Fairwood United Methodist Church, 1712 Old Omen Road, in Tyler. She succeeds the Rev. Ben West, who was reassigned to the Houston area, and previously she was youth director and children’s Christian education director at First United Methodist Church in Nederland for 2 1/2 years.
“Being new to the area, one of the things that’s important to me is to find out what the needs and interests of those in the community around us are and how do we plug into those and share the love of Jesus,” she said.
Stevens serves Fairwood on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. On Tuesday and Thursday, she is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.
“I’m available (at Fairwood) to help and walk alongside whatever is going on in someone’s life,” she said.
Stevens added, “As a pastor, my job is to minister to the people and to build an intentional relationship with the people of the church and the people of the community and to see what their needs are and to teach the word of God.
“I don‘t believe you can preach the word and share the word as easily if you don’t have a relationship,” she said. “I think people are more open to hearing and receiving the word when they know you as a person and they know that you care.”
She said the church is working to help members grow spiritually and to share the love of Christ by reaching into the community to meet people wherever they are who have not found a church home.
She hopes to expand church programs and membership.
“We are definitely looking to grow our youth and children’s ministry program and to see what the needs of the community are,” Stevens said.
Upon coming to Fairwood, Stevens said she walked into a church that is very active with different organizations such as People Attempting To Help, East Texas Food Bank, two veterans groups called Fill the Gap and The Green Zone and a program to collect items for hurricane survivors.
Fairwood also conducts Bible studies, worship and Sunday school, a full-time child care program and an after-school program that offers elementary students tutoring help with homework.
“Fairwood is a place where everyone is welcome, no matter what’s going in an individual’s life or a family’s life,” Stevens said. “This is a place of safety, a place of security and a place to be loved and a place to grow. I see that love and passion in each of the members.”