Celebrated Rio Grande Valley United Methodist Pastor Elected as Bishop for Nebraska, Kansas Areas

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
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Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr. 

Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr. 

SAN ANTONIO (Wednesday, July 20) – Rev. Dr. Ruben Saenz, Jr. was consecrated and elected to the Office of the Bishop during the 2016 South Central Jurisdictional Conference held in Wichita, Kansas on July 13-16. The Conference approved his appointment to the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church, where he will serve the Nebraska and Kansas areas. He was consecrated on his 55th birthday, July 16. He was the first to be elected to the Episcopacy at this year’s conference on the third ballot of voting. 

Saenz will be leading an episcopal area with over 1,000 local congregations that includes 220,000 lay people and 800 active elders, deacons, associate pastors and local pastors. 

Prior to his election, Bishop Saenz worked as the Director of Connectional Ministries and the Executive Director of the Mission Vitality Center for the Rio Texas Conference in San Antonio. Saenz lent leadership to the six-year Rio Texas Conference unification process from beginning to end. As Executive Director of the Mission Vitality Center, he oversaw the strategic direction and outcome delivery of the conference’s missional objectives for congregational vitality, starting of new faith communities, clergy and lay leadership vitality, uniting peoples, and transforming

Bishop Saenz served a 14-year tenure as pastor. He served at La Trinidad and El Divino Redentor in El Paso from 1997-2000; as well as El Buen Pastor in Edinburg from 2001-2011. Saenz left El Buen Pastor as the largest Hispanic-American United Methodist Church in the United States with over 900 members. Under his pastoral leadership, worship attendance grew by 150 percent and giving increased by over 300 percent. 

“There are several critical opportunities facing the United Methodist Church,” said Saenz in a 2015 interview. “The first opportunity I consider to be critical is the UMC’s ability to reach and disciple new people, younger people, and more diverse people. Related to this opportunity is how the UMC will engage and embrace the country’s multi-ethnic and multi-cultural reality. A necessary component of the church’s future vitality depends on the resolution of this pressing reality and opportunity.”

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 graduated from Rio Grande City High School in 1979. 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.




The Rio Texas Annual Conference aims to reach out to people of South and Central Texas. Some of our churches are located in some of the fastest-growing areas of the country.  Others are located in areas where people are struggling with issues of poverty, lack of affordable housing, and a loss of hope. We are committed to providing vital missions, vital congregations, and strong leaders to connect our churches to the people. Our churches are in large cities and small towns from Austin to McAllen, from San Angelo to Victoria in vibrant cities, historic small towns and struggling communities.  Our churches and congregations meet annually during the month of June to conduct the business of the conference and gather for worship in Corpus Christi at the American Bank Center. Our For more information about the conference, please visit http://riotexas.org and follow us on Twitter @RioTxAC. 

Rev. Will Rice
210-408-4500 Ext. 505
16400 Huebner Road
San Antonio, Texas 78248