The Reverend Karen Vannoy, District Superintendent of the South District announced her request to retire from The Desert Southwest Conference, effective July 1, 2014. Karen and her husband, Dr. John Flowers, transferred to the DSC in 2007 from Travis Park UMC in San Antonio, Texas, located in the Southwest Texas Conference of the UMC. Together they served as co-pastors of First UMC Phoenix until 2012 when Karen was appointed South District Superintendent, and John was appointed pastor of First UMC in Tucson. Dr. Flowers plans to retire as well so they can devote themselves full time to teaching, writing and consulting. They have written numerous articles together, as well as three books: Not Just a One Night Stand: Ministry with the Poor, published by Discipleship Resources; 10 Temptations of Church, and to be published in late spring of 2014, Adapt to Thrive, both published by Abingdon Press.
John has been serving churches for 39 years, and Karen has been under appointment for 35 years. Although they have not reached the mandatory retirement ages, they both feel ready for this new chapter in their lives. “I have loved serving as District Superintendent,” said Karen. “I have a wonderful District and I’m excited about the possibilities for ministry in southern Arizona.”
“When we left Texas, only one of our four children was married. Now they’re all married, and we have five grandchildren living in Austin, Texas. Our retirement will free us to be a part of their lives while they are still young. As a pastor, there were times when I made choices because the church needed me to. We’re making a choice now because our family needs us. It feels right.”
Karen and John both stress they are not leaving ministry. “There’s no such thing as retirement in the Bible. We plan to write one more book, and look forward to many opportunities for teaching and extensive work with churches,” they both said.
“I have made some life-long friends in Arizona—people I will be with for the rest of my life. There are several young pastors here I am very excited about. I’m eager to follow their ministry in the years ahead and excited to see how God is working through them,” Karen said. “We all know the church is at a critical juncture for our future. I no longer question whether we will change. We will and I welcome it. I trust God completely that we are being reformed and reshaped for this present age and the years to come. I’m excited to see those changes unfold and I’m excited to be a part of them. What a great time to be alive!”