Welcome New Clergy in East District

by | Jul 19, 2022 | East District News Webpage, East District Newsletter

Michael Patzloff – The Bridge UMC, Phoenix

Michael is no stranger to the desert. He grew up in Holtville, CA, a little town just west of Yuma, AZ. Because his parents were originally from Nebraska, he decided to attend Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. After receiving a BS in Business Administration and a minor in philosophy, Michael answered the call to ministry, becoming a certified candidate in the Nebraska Annual Conference (now the Great Plains). He received his MDiv from Perkins School of Theology – Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, was ordained a Deacon in 1995 and Elder in 1998. During his 20 years of ministry in Nebraska, he served seven churches ranging from 25 to 1300 members. In 2014, Michael was welcomed into the Desert Southwest Conference, serving University United Methodist Church in Las Vegas, NV and Faith United Methodist Church in Phoenix, AZ.

Michael is married to John Lefeber and they have two children, Elias and Fay, who were adopted through the foster care system. His hobbies are varied but you will likely find him reading a book, working in the yard, planning a travel adventure, or cleaning the house. He is passionate about animal rights and has been fortunate to have several rescue dogs that have brought much love and fulfillment in life.

If there is one scripture that speaks to who Michael strives to be, it would be from the Prophet Micah: “…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” May it be so.

Gary Gene Simons – St. Paul’s UMC, Globe

As the son of a preacher, Gary grew up in the Methodist Church. The family moved around a lot and he developed a love of travel.

Gary’s ministry began as a Petty Officer in the United States Navy. With no Chaplain available on the ships he worked on, he began offering Bible Study and prayer to his fellow shipmates. Being in the Navy allowed Gary to see the world, often taking his wife and two children with him. When at home in San Diego, Gary worked with the Men’s Ministry, sang in the praise band with his wife, and became a Lay Speaker. After retiring from the Navy, he earned his bachelor’s degree and began working with homeless veterans and rescue missions. It was during this time that he found the Walk to Emmaus organization, which was very instrumental in his spiritual growth. Because of the support of the Emmaus group, Gary went to seminary, receiving his MDiv in Pastoral Care and Counseling. After graduation, he worked the next nine years in hospice care. He there begin his ministry in grief work, working with patients before they died and with families after their loved ones died.

Gary looks forward to a new beginning at St. Paul’s UMC in Globe. His wife will stay in Phoenix where she works for a law firm, and he will be going back and forth from Globe. His favorite hobby is cooking. Living in 42 countries, three of those in Japan, his favorite things to eat include Asian, American comfort food, and anything tacos. Gary’s other hobby is exploring new things and places and looks forward to exploring Globe and Eastern Arizona.

Deontez Wimbley – Crossroads UMC, Phoenix

Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Deontez is a proud southerner exploring new adventures in the Desert Southwest. He is an unapologetic progressive, millennial Christian trying to make sense of a complicated world shaped by a complex God. Prior to answering his call to ministry, Deontez worked in public health, working as a Sexual Health Educator for a leading reproductive healthcare organization. For several years, he coordinated sexual violence prevention programming at one of the top public research institutions in Georgia. Serving as the Director of Teen Programs and Government Outreach at the Valley of the Sun YMCA was his most recent occupation.

Although not a cradle Methodist, for the past decade Deontez has been faithfully committed to serving the church in a variety of ways. He attended Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC. Claflin is one of eleven historically black colleges and universities supported by the United Methodist Black College Fund. As a student, he traveled to different annual conferences encouraging apportionment giving so that students throughout the country could continue receiving a premier education. Deontez interned with the General Board of Church and Society, served as a delegate to North Georgia Annual conference, and most recently was a delegate to the Desert Southwest Annual Conference. He is a certified candidate for ministry in the East District and is a member of the Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry. Deontez is currently pursuing his MDiv at Gammon Theological Seminary.

We Also Welcome –

Flor Granillo, a provisional Elder from the North Texas Conference who is now serving Central UMC as Missional Consultant.

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Author: District Office

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