Rev. Dr. Ruben Saenz, Jr. has been elected to the office of bishop by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church. Saenz was elected on the third round of balloting at the conference being held in Wichita, Kansas.
Until his election, Saenz served the Rio Texas Director of Connectional Ministries and the Executive Director of the Mission Vitality Center, developing systems and programs that help local churches reach the rapidly changing mission field. Saenz has a passion for creating new places to reach new people with the Gospel. Prior to this, Saenz served as the Director of New Church Development for the Southwest Texas Conference. During his four years, he successfully implemented the Healthy Church Initiative and resourced districts and local churches to start 11 new faith communities. He was also an integral part of the team that created the unification plan that led to the merger of the Southwest Texas and Rio Grande annual conferences.
Prior to his conference level work, Dr. Saenz demonstrated his ability to bring vitality and growth to the local church through reaching out to the community by raising and training lay leadership. Under his leadership, 345 persons were incorporated into the congregational life of La Trinidad/El Divino Redentor, El Paso (65) and El Buen Pastor, Edinburg (275) by profession of faith and baptism during Saenz’s 14-year tenure at both appointments. During his tenure, he led his congregations to address the issues of generational, social, and systemic poverty that plague the region. The average worship attendance at his La Trinidad / El Divino Redentor two-point charge grew by 200% in four years and at El Buen Pastor, worship attendance grew by 150% over ten years. Giving increased by over 300% in both appointments as well.
Saenz is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas and received his Master of Divinity and his Doctor of Ministry degrees from SMU Perkins School of Theology. He has been married to Maye for 34 years; they have four children, all of which are active in the life of the church with his two sons Aaron and Ruben III serving in the Rio Texas Conference.
Bishop Saenz will receive his first assignment as a bishop later this week when the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee meets.