My call to be a disciple and pastor of Jesus Christ happened at church camp in New Hampshire when I was 14 years old. The path the Holy Spirit has led me on from that moment to tonight has been one that been filled with lots of turns and twists.
My sister and I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut with our parents. We attended church every Sunday and were extremely involved in youth activities. I attended a small liberal arts college, Denison University in Granville, Ohio. I received a BA majoring in Religion and Economics. My first church employment was at 19 years old at the Granville Presbyterian Church. I also met my husband in the pews of that church. He has been a very important partner in my journey!
We have three sons. Our oldest is Andy - 32, living with his wife and two sons in a RV traveling the country and homeschooling the boys. Andy is a Director of Software Development for Service Power Inc. Our middle son is Sean - 30, living in Mexico Beach, FL with his wife and their seven month old son. Sean is a Captain in the Air Force as a civil engineer at Tyndall AFB. Our youngest son is James - 25, living in Austin presently working for the Texas Democratic Party. We have lived many places - Andy was born in Atlanta living there 11 days before we relocated to Colorado. Sean and James were born in Colorado. When James was two years old we moved to South Florida. Jeff traveled to South America. In 2002, Jeff’s Ericsson Latin America office closed down, moving everyone to Plano. We lived in Plano until I was appointed to Valley View. Our boys graduated from Plano Senior High School.
We moved many times during our 36 years of marriage. My resume reflects that. I have lived in seven states, served six churches in staff positions, and have been appointed in the NTC to three churches prior to tonight. I graduated with a Master’s of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology in 2008. While attending Perkins I served as the Children’s Minister at Suncreek UMC and served Spring Valley UMC as Director of Evangelism. My first appointment was to Vista Ridge UMC as an Associate in July 2009. I served there until my appointment moved to Valley View UMC in December 2011. In July 2015, I was appointed to Waples Memorial UMC in Denison where I am currently serving.
One of my strengths is connections. In the NTC I have had the honor of holding several awesome positions that have been wonderful ministries in the connection. For seven years I have served on the NW District DCOM. For four of those years I have been the Chair. I have also been serving on the Bridgeport Board for ten years, presently serving as the Chair. For the past three years I have had the extreme honor of serving in the Call Room at the Board of Ordained Ministry.
As a senior pastor, I have become very active in the communities I serve. My connections have led me to the local schools, the local clergy alliances, and local concerns with poverty and homelessness. In Denison I have been a part of the Rotary for five years and serving on the Board of Directors for Greater Texoma Health Clinic. Waples has been a Project Transformation site for the five years I have served in Denison. My passion for children has been focusing on our children, our preschoolers, but also allowed me to plant seeds of hope for the community children that have spent their summers in our church building. While serving in Valley View, the Holy Spirit led us to create the Clothing Closet. We were able to help people with donated clothes and items that could be bought or given away as needed. These ministries have been a blessing to the communities. They have offered a powerful witness to being the hands and feet of Christ.
I love serving as a pastor! I love that every day is different and unique! I love creating worship, offering opportunities for people to encounter their Lord. I love variety in worship through music, prayers, and scripture. My priority in the churches I have served as been pastoral care. I love getting to know families and hearing their stories. In these strange days, a top priority will be connecting with those who may need a pastoral presence in their lives and in their isolation. Over the past four weeks our Waples leadership has been meeting for weekly Zoom calls. In some ways our communication has never been better.
Each church has their own DNA. It takes time to learn the history, to hear the stories, to see the ministries that laity is passionate about. I am coming to walk along side this wonderful congregation. I pray that God will guide me to lead your church in a faithful walk that is God’s vision for us. May our season together be one that is filled with spiritual growth, connecting with the Body of Christ in new ways following this season of isolation, and may we be the Christians Jesus Christ needs us to be in a time such as this.
What do you do at Holy Covenant UMC?
I am the Director of Family Discipleship overseeing discipleship and programming for our kids, youth and some adult stuff!
What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
I just hope to leave this world better than the way I found out. I live by Romans 12:18 which says “ If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” I hope that every day in my work I live into that message and work towards to bring peace to all.
Since you’re new… what is one part of your job that you are most looking forward to, and why?
I am really looking forward to building relationships with the people at Holy Covenant. I am excited to get to know everyone, find out how I can best serve this church, and then put that into action!
Do you have any hobbies, and do you collect anything?
I don’t really have “hobbies”. I like to spend time with friends and family, hang out with my dogs, travel, and cook and try new recipes!
What does family look like for you?
I am the oldest of 4 kids. We are a big, very loud, loving, kind of crazy family. All my siblings live here and my parents live here. Every Saturday night we have dinner together and it is really fun. I am married to an amazing gal, Monica. We have been married almost 7 years. We have two pugs named Alice and Regina, they are super cute and super fun.
What’s something people might be surprised to hear about you?
I am a huge old country music fan. All my Spotify playlists are covered in Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and more!
Luis graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in voice performance. He then went on to LSU to complete a master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting. Upon completion, he worked for two years in public education in several schools in Louisiana. He then moved to the DFW area in pursuit of furthering his conducting opportunities and instruction where he began studying under Maestro Hector Guzman. In September 2015, he auditioned for Maestro Guzman and was selected to serve as cover conductor with the Plano Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since. In January 2019, Mr. Rodriguez took the responsibility of becoming librarian for the Plano Symphony. That same October, he was hired as Patron Services Specialist, a post he enjoyed thoroughly, and the following month, he also became Social Media Associate. From September 14, 2020, Mr. Rodriguez has worked as Operations Manager for Plano Symphony in addition to retaining the librarian and cover conductor posts, later in April 2022 his title was changed to his current one: Director of Artistic Operations and Librarian. In addition, Mr Rodriguez held interim Music Director positions at Broadmoor Presbyterian Church in Louisiana from 2011 to 2014 and at Arapaho UMC in Dallas, from May through December, 2022.
Previously, Mr. Rodriguez worked as office administrator for the Irving Symphony Orchestra, where he also continues to work as librarian since 2018.
As a performer, he holds the music directorship for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Texas, an orchestra that works with young individuals to provide them with the opportunity to close the gap between school and professional orchestras.
Director of Finance
Christine came to Holy Covenant UMC as Director of Finance in 2014. She has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit finance and operations management. She is also a lawyer and a nationally certified humane educator. When she isn’t taking care of Holy Covenant’s finances, she is working hard on behalf of animals.
Elise Webb Odell
Director of Administration and Facilities
Elise has been attending Holy Covenant since 2005 and has been on staff since September 2008. She is a lifelong United Methodist who was active in the Southwest Texas Conference (now Rio Texas) before moving to Dallas and graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX with a BA in English and Theatre Arts. Elise held management positions for 20 years and previously worked in video production, bookselling, printing, retail, teaching and was a youth minister. She was drawn to Holy Covenant by its involvement in missions, its music ministries and its diversity. She is grateful to work with such a skilled staff and devoted volunteers and she cherishes her church family. Elise married her husband Stewart at Holy Covenant in 2010. Stewart works for Showcase Productions in Dallas. The Odells enjoy live music and travel.
E-mail: [email protected]
My name is Heather Hinton, and I am the Director for our Holy Covenant Early Childhood Development Program (ECDP)! My husband, Jon, and I have been married for almost 30 years. I have 2 children, Preston who is 19 and Felicity who is 8. I have been an educator for 25 years. I graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 1998. I taught first grade, Pre-K 4’s, science, and as a substitute teacher, many children, grades and subjects. This is my 3rd year here as the director of ECDP. I am excited to be here and love this ministry of working with our wonderful teachers, children and families to help the preschool children learn to love God, love themselves and love others as the grow and develop!
Astrid Morales Torres
Born in Mexico City, pianist Astrid Morales is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance at Arizona State University with Robert Hamilton. Astrid holds master’s degrees in Piano Performance, Piano Pedagogy and a Performer’s Diploma in Piano from Southern Methodist University, where she studied with Joaquín Achúcarro. In 2012, she graduated from the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City where she studied with Héctor Rojas.
Winner of the 2022 Puerto Rico Center for Collaborative Piano - Professional Division, Astrid has been awarded several prizes and scholarships including the Actos de Confianza Grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures 2021, the 2014 General Concerto Competition at the Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, TX, the 2011 Youth Mexican Prize, Grand Prix to Exceptional Talents and Best Interpretation of Mexican Music at the Second National Piano Competition “Petrof – Symphony – Pearl River”, among many others. In 2021, she was recognized as a Kawai Medallion Educator.
Astrid has had an intensive soloist career and has performed with well-known orchestras and conductors such as: Mexico State Symphony Orchestra (Enrique Bátiz, Virgilio Valle and Gabriela Díaz Alatriste), Querétaro Philharmonic (José Guadalupe Flores), Meadows Symphony Orchestra (Paul Phillips), Nuevo León University Symphony (Eduardo Diazmuñoz), Mexico City Philharmonic (José Areán), National Polytechnic Institute Symphony Orchestra (Alfredo Ibarra and Enrique Barrios), Aguascalientes Symphony (Stephano Mazzoleni), Women’s Orchestra of Arizona (Livia Gho), among many others. In addition, she has performed recitals in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, United States, Canada, Holland, Germany and Italy.
As an advocate of Latin American music and an active performer of Mexican music, she recorded her first CD “Rimero Musical” with music of the Mexican composer Ladislao Juárez and collaborated in “El Oficio Mío” with Armando Rosas. As an active collaborative pianist, Morales was appointed as a faculty member at North Texas Low Brass Camp and was the pianist for Portland Opera To Go 2022 program and tour. Morales has collaborated with world-renowned musicians including Andrés Díaz, Santiago Cañón and Matt Albert. In 2018 and 2019, she also served as Fellow Pianist at the NorCal Music Festival. Moreover, she currently serves as principal keyboardist at Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra.
Astrid Morales serves on the piano faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington. She has also served as Faculty Associate at Arizona State University. Morales has appeared in several TV shows, newspapers and radio interviews in Mexico, Italy, The Netherlands, and United States. Astrid serves as an active member of the Binational Cultural Forum of Mexican Artists and is an active committee member at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. In addition, she is the 4th Vice President of the Arizona State Music Teachers Association.