Rev. Melissa Rynders was born in Provo, Utah and grew up in various parts of Utah, Arizona, and Southern California. The daughter of two United Methodist Pastors, Melissa spent most of her life in the Desert Southwest Conference. After participating in several conference Boards, including the Conference Council on Youth Ministries; The Strategic Planning Committee; Covenant Council; and The Young Adult Conference Committee; Melissa felt a call into ordained ministry.
Upon completion of her Bachelor of Arts in Education at The University of Arizona, Melissa moved to Claremont, CA to pursue her Masters of Divinity at Claremont School of Theology. One of the reasons Melissa chose to attend Claremont was so that she could be closer to her soon-to-be husband, Rob Rynders. Rob and Melissa met while working as staff members for Sierra Service Project, a service organization for youth and young adults, and both decided to go to Claremont to pursue their calls into ministry.
After graduating from Claremont in 2005, Melissa worked at Desert Skies United Methodist Church (Tucson) as their Ministerial Intern and Director of Youth Ministries. Melissa then spent the next six years at her first appointment at North Scottsdale United Methodist Church, followed by one year as the Lead Pastor of what came to be known as The Bridge. After that she spent three years as the associate at First UMC Phoenix before moving to be the pastor of Sanctuary UMC in Tucson for 5 years. She recently completed one year as the senior pastor of Catalina UMC before moving into this role of East District Superintendent. Her husband Rob served as the United Methodist Campus Minister for Arizona State University, started City Square UMC, in downtown Phoenix, and now works as a Financial Planning Associate. They are blessed to have two sons, Colby, 14 and Zachary, almost 11.
Outside of serving the church, Melissa enjoys dancing, musicals, making things on her Cricut and hanging out with her family and friends. Melissa is also an avid coffee lover, so make sure to take the time to get to know her over a good cup of coffee at your local coffee shop. Melissa and her family look forward to getting to know the people, pastors and churches of the East District, and being in ministry together.