PASTORS & STAFF

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rev. Leslie Byrd
Senior Pastor
Rev. Leslie Byrd joined the staff of New World United Methodist Church as the Senior Pastor on July 1, 2019.  Leslie served in the local church since 9th grade in a variety of roles and felt a call to Ordained Ministry in 1991 and spent the next several years completing her education.
 
She attended Texas Wesleyan University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education and then attended Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University with a Master of Divinity and a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Pastor Leslie’s first career was in advertising and her first job was as a paste-up artist, darkroom technician and assistant printing press operator at an insurance company. She went on to work in a bank marketing firm and later managed her own Free-lance graphic design business for several years. Her favorite food is anything Mexican or Italian and she is an avid movie enthusiast. Her favorite movies include Apollo 13, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Guardian, Finding Forrester, and The Hunt for Red October. TV favorites include anything HGTV, This is Us, and New Amsterdam. 
 
That which brings the greatest joy is her family – especially her two young grandsons.  “Grandparenting is the greatest!” she will tell you.  She is grateful to God for every moment of her life and every moment is truly a gift.  Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
 
Pastor Leslie has been married to her husband, John, for 40 years, whom she me in 6th grade. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rev. Erin Sloan Jackson
Associate Pastor of Missions

Rev. Erin Sloan Jackson, Associate Pastor of Missions and has been on staff at New World since September 2014. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University and a Master of Arts in Ministry from SMU Perkins School of Theology. Erin is an ordained United Methodist Deacon and serves as Chair of the Order of Deacons for the Central Texas Conference. Erin is professionally certified in youth ministry, spiritual direction and coaching, and has been serving in ministry in various capacities for over twenty years.

Pastor Erin’s first job was in telephone sales for Olan Mills Studios. Her favorite food is fresh fruit and her favorite movie/TV shows are Office Space, Brooklyn 99, The Office, This is Us and whatever soccer game is on TV.
 
Pastor Erin says the things that brings her the greatest joy is spending time with her family around the dinner table, watching her kids play sports and also keeping active by walking, cycling and doing yoga.
 
Her favorite Bible verse is Micah 6:8, “God has told you what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
 
Pastor Erin has been married to her husband Dennis for almost 25 years and she is a mom to four awesome kids, Trey (20), Nate (18), Kat (15) and Lucas (6).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kathy Alexander
Director of Children’s Ministry

Kathy began in the New World Pre-school staff in 2013, as Lead teacher for the 4-year old class.  In 2016 she accepted the position of Director of Children’s Ministries.  Ministry with children has been a lifelong passion for her.  Getting to share the Bible and help them begin building the foundation they need to continue growing as Christians throughout their lives is very exciting to Kathy.  Kathy is continually blessed by the children she works with and is always learning from them.  One of her favorite scriptures is “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14. For Kathy, working with children is a sacred calling.

Kathy’s favorite dessert is cheesecake with some combination of chocolate and nuts and she loves Chinese food; especially Orange Chicken, and Cashew Chicken is another favorite. Her favorite movie is “Steel Magnolias”, She loves the bond that is formed between the women in the movie, and the support they are for one another.

The greatest joy for Kathy is her family, Her happy place would be family get-togethers, sharing meals, playing games, watching sports, etc.  Kathy is married to Mike and they have 3 children, David, married to Stephanie, Brad married to Amy, and Susan.  They are blessed with 3 beautiful grandchildren, Anna, Jack, and Rilla.  Mike and Kathy have served in ministry for 40+ years and what an amazing adventure it has been and continues to be!   

Another favorite Bible verse of Kathy’s is Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  This verse carries her through good times and difficult times.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Joshua Bender
Multimedia Director
Joshua Bender joined New World as the MultiMedia Director in August of 2020. Previously, Josh was the sound engineer for New World beginning in 2015. Josh graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 1996 with a Bachelor of Specialized Studies degree (B.S.S.) in Music, Audio Production and Theater Sound Design. After graduating Josh moved to New York, New York where he spent 10 years working on a multitude of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. Credits include, Sound Designer; I am My Own Wife, Associate Sound Designer: Big Bill at Lincoln Center, Associate Sound Designer; Belle Epoch at Lincoln Center, and Associate Sound Designer; The Rivals at Lincoln Center. Josh rekindled a love with his high school sweetheart Stacy Bender-Dubiel in 2012 and moved to Texas shortly thereafter to be with her. “It’s an absolute Blessing to be a part of the New World family!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Steven Couch
Director of Worship & Music
Steven Couch is a conductor, organist, pianist, flutist and published arranger/composer. He holds the Bachelors of Music Degree in Church Music from Friends University, Wichita KS and the Masters Degree in Choral Conducting from University of Texas at Arlington. Steven has composed and arranged hundreds of pieces for use in worship and concerts. He has arranged and/or orchestrated for Kristen Chenoweth, Esera Tualo, Nell Carter, Cynthia Clawson, Mark Hayes, Marvin Gaspard, Greg Gilpin, The Turtle Creek Chorale, Resounding Harmony, Credo of Dallas, the New Texas Symphony Orchestra, and many other church groups, civic ensembles, choirs, orchestras and soloists. Steven currently serves as Director of Worship and Music at New World United Methodist Church in Arlington. Steven is a member of the American Guild of Organists, The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship, National Flute Association, American Choral Directors Association and on the board of the Dallas Chapter of Chorister’s Guild.
Sarah Duer
Director of Communications
Sarah Duer joined the staff as the Director of Communications in February 2022, but has attended this church since she was born. Her parents and grandparents are charter members of New World. Sarah is the third generation in her family to be a staff member here at the church. Her parents, Sheri and Bill Womack, led the Youth program for almost 25 years. Her grandfather, Bill Miller, was the Director of Music and Evangelism and her grandmother, Joan, played the piano, organ and led the children’s choirs. Sarah has been singing with New World’s praise band, the Way, since it started in 2004.
 
Sarah attended Texas Tech University, majoring in Exercise and Sports Science, with a minor in English. She began her professional career as an Athletic Trainer at Arlington High School in 2003. After 10 years at AHS, she chose to give up being an athletic trainer, and begin a stay at home mom gig after the birth of her second child. 
 
In 2009, Sarah and her husband, Jeff, were married at New World. Jeff is an air traffic controller at Fort Worth Center.  They have two children, Caroline and Callan, and a rescue pup named Roxy.  Some of Sarah’s favorite things to do are singing, watching or attending sporting events (specifically football and baseball), hanging out with her family and reading a good book. Her favorite worship song to sing with the band is Great Are You Lord by Jason Ingram, David Leonard and Leslie Jordan of All Sons and Daughters.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Heather James
Director of Operations

Heather James joined the staff of New World United Methodist Church as the Director of Operations on February 5, 2018. She attended the University of Texas at Arlington and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration.

Heather’s first career was as an Account Director for a marketing agency working with some of the biggest brands in the consumer package goods industry. After 17 years, Heather was called to find a different path that nourished her soul and made a difference in the world. Working for New World feels like coming home to her.

Her favorite foods are Mexican or Sushi. Her favorite movies are Love Actually and The Holiday but mostly you will find her with a book in her hand on any number of topics. TV favorites include This is Us, Escape to the Chateau, So You   Think You Can Dance and any documentary on PBS.

 Her favorite scripture is Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation pray with thanksgiving and present your requests to God.”

 Heather has been married to her husband Matt for 20 years and they have two children Hayden and   Megan. They also have a new rescue dog Harper who has brought some much needed joy and     excitement to their lives. In her spare time, Heather loves to read, travel, journal, be creative, calligraphy   and when time allows…sleep.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jin Ah Kwon
Organist and Music Assistant
Jin Ah Kwon, a concert pianist, began playing the piano at the age of five. Jin Ah graduated with a Bachelor and Master degree from Seoul National University in Korea. Currently, Jin Ah is working at Tarrant County College as an adjunct faculty and completing her doctoral degree at the University of North Texas. She has won many international piano competitions including, 27th Chopin international competition, New York international Competition, 9th London international Competition, and 2017 IMKA music competition, and UNT concerto competition. After a successful debut with the Russia-Tombov Philharmonic Orchestra, she started to perform at many halls around the world including Carnegie Hall and Seoul Art Center. Previously, she worked as an organist/pianist for 3 years at a church after coming to Texas.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jim Penson
Facilities Director
Jim was born in Illinois and moved to Texas in the 1970’s. A lifelong bluegrass musician, Jim is also a luthier, and builds, repairs, and restores string instruments. He has four adult children who live in Austin, Florida, and Chicago. Jim has been in many bluegrass bands, including The Front Porch Boys, with Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett. In addition to his full time job here at New World, Jim also teaches: Bluegrass Banjo, Frailing Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Dobro, Lead and harmony singing, Wernick Method bluegrass jamming. As a facilities director, he is responsible for the physical buildings of the church and grounds, and loves his job.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Caitlin Snoddy
Director of Student Ministry

Caitlin Snoddy (pronounced snow-dee), Director of Student Ministry, joined the New World staff in January of 2022. She was born and raised in Arlington, TX, and is an Arlington High School graduate. She attend the University of Texas at Arlington where she received her Bachelor of Science with a focus in Music and Biology. Caitlin discerned her call to ministry while working as the summer youth intern at Plymouth Park UMC while she was in college. Following her summer internship, Caitlin joined the PPUMC staff as the Associate Youth Director, a position she served for 4 years. Caitlin will be continuing her education this fall at Perkins School of Theology at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX in pursuit of her Master of Arts in Ministry.

Caitlin has a passion for music and sings in the 11 o’clock traditional service. While in college, she sang in UTA’s University Singers ensemble, as well as the a Capella Choir. She has performed roles such as the Second Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Ruth in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, and more. She is also a member of the Fort Worth Chorale. 

When Caitlin is not meeting with students or working at the church, you can find her spending time with friends and family. She enjoys spending time outdoors camping and fishing, as well as playing video games with friends, reading a good book, and finding a great cup of coffee. She loves connecting with others, whether it be sharing a meal or talking over coffee, and invites you to reach out to her!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Amber Walter
Preschool Director
Amber joined the staff as the Director of our Preschool, on January 9th, 2016. She began working for NWP in 2013 as a Pre-k/4-year-old teacher and fell in love with the program and the families immediately. She knew from the first day this is where she is meant to be.
 
Every job that Amber has been involved with has been in public service. Her first career was in cosmetology. She worked as a hairdresser and an esthetician from 2003-2008 in Fort Worth, Texas. Amber loved it, but when she married her husband Andrew in 2007 and moved to Arlington, she decided to be a stay at home mom. They have two children, Kristen (22) and Sabrina (26). Amber was raised by her grandparents in Virginia and moved to Texas when she was 15 years-old. She believes that because of the love and support that they gave her is one of the major reasons why she is who she is today.
 
Her favorite food is Thai and favorite movies are I Can Only Imagine and Steel Magnolia’s. The things that bring Amber the greatest joy is children. They are the greatest gift that God could give us. Amber’s favorite Bible Verse is Luke 18:15-17. 15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Claudia Williams
Receptionist
Claudia joined the staff in late January 2022. She was looking for a part time job and God provided the perfect fit at New World. Claudia is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and has a Fine Arts Degree. Some of her favorite things include Mexican food, British mysteries, the Antiques Roadshow and the movie High Society. The things in life that bring her the greatest joy are her children and grandchildren. Claudia has three daughters and two grandsons, who all live in the Houston area. She lives in Arlington and cares for her 92 year old mother. 
 
Claudia’s favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called accordingly to His purpose.”