Woodburn United Methodist Church is welcoming its third pastor in three years, but this one seems keen on sticking SUBMITTED - Marty Williams is Woodburn United Methodist Church's new pastor.

Rev. Marty Williams just returned to her native Oregon after spending 10 years in Wisconsin and is ecstatic about being able to work in her home state.

“It’s time to be closer to my family, especially my parents,” she said. “I was just in a position where I could make that transition back to Oregon.”

Williams started on her new assignment July 1, with her first sermon given July 14. She replaces Mike Benischek, who has been reassigned to Oregon City with his young family. Before Benischek, the congregation was served for eight years by Jim Monroe, who retired and moved to Kenya to volunteer at a Methodist Hospital mission compound.

Williams, a single grandmother of three, is taking up residence in the parish house adjoining the church lot. There she is putting her interior design skills to work, one of her many interests. Williams used her creative side by working as a dress maker and party planner prior to her calling to the ministry. “I grew up not seeing women as clergy people so it was not on my goal sheet early on in life,” she said. “I went back to school to look into counseling, but while I was in the program early on, I was wooed by God to consider pastoral ministry.”

Williams graduated from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2000 with a Master of Divinity focusing on spiritual formation. In 2001, she finished the requirements to be a spiritual director and was ordained in 2003.

She then moved to Wisconsin, where she served in three different congregations, most recently serving Franksville United Methodist Church just outside Racine.

“I went to Wisconsin to work as a chaplain,” she said. “I never dreamed I’d stay in Wisconsin, but they offered me opportunities, and I was appointed to three different churches.”

Williams specializes in interim ministry or transitional work, with a dedication to the health and wellness of a congregation.

“One thing for me, because of my own growing up, is I didn’t see women leadership (in church),” Williams said. “Women need women, especially in leadership and counseling positions.”

The transition to Woodburn will also be made easier because her daughter and family are also moving back to the area this month from Chicago. One son lives in San Diego but the other is already in Portland and is getting married in the fall.

“So my kids will be with me for my transition,” Williams said. “It’s a wonderful season of family coming back being closer together.”

As for her congregation, Williams is excited to get to know the members.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” she said. “I’m enjoying the people very much.”

In his farewell blog post on the church’s website, Benischek also couldn’t say enough kind things about the Woodburn congregation.

“It has been a true joy to be with all of you during our short assignment to Woodburn United Methodist Church,” he wrote. “Remember that you are a great church and have much to offer to your community. … Despite having a proud history, I believe that Woodburn’s best days are yet to come. Blessings to you in the years ahead, and we thank you for the memories and ministry of this past year.”

Williams invites anyone to attend Woodburn United Methodist Church’s worship services at 10:30 a.m. Sundays.

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