Pawhuska First United Methodist Church welcomed Pastor Brett Thomasson with a reception following his first official sermon on June 11. Thomasson is no stranger to this part of Oklahoma as he was reared in the Bartlesville FUMC.
Thomasson received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 1986. He said, “My plans for a career in journalism took me from Bartlesville to Chicago to El Reno — not the path of newspaper fame and fortune. But it was in El Reno I began to understand God’s call on my life for a different path, and my time at Wesley UMC and with Pastor Guy Ames helped me understand that call and begin the ministry journey in 1993.”
Thomasson graduated with a master’s degree in divinity from Southern Methodist University in 1997. His first appointment was with the Alex FUMC & Ninnekah FUMC (1997-2000), followed by Oklahoma City University Wesley Foundation (2000-2005), Altus Highland Heights UMC and Duke FUMC 2005-2008, Newcastle FUMC 2008-2012, and Madill FUMC 2012-2017.
“While in seminary, I had the opportunity to work with undergraduate students in the SMU campus ministry, an area of work I greatly enjoyed,” said Thomasson. “It, along with my time as a youth group sponsor while in El Reno, helped cement my desire to keep close and careful attention to ministry with youth and young adults. This thread has gone through my career since, working with youth in my first churches and then in campus ministry itself at OCU and Western Oklahoma State College in Altus, as well as service on the boards of the OU Wesley Foundation, where I did my seminary internship, and the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Wesley Foundation. It’s also kept me active in Dayspring Camp as well as district youth camps, mostly with the Dayspring South camp that has continued to meet at Cross Point, the old North Oklahoma City District Camp and CLEW Camp.
“I understand from Pastor Kathy Morris, and my recent experiences with the Pawhuska Church, we have excellent volunteers working with our youth – in their regular meetings and for Sunday School. I want to support them with resources and in whatever way I can so they can live out their call to be in ministry with the youth of our church and our community.
“At the churches I have served, I have considered community involvement on the part of the pastor as well as the church to be an essential part of my ministry. I have been involved with Ministerial Alliances in Altus, Newcastle and Madill, the Chamber of Commerce in Duke and Newcastle and the Rotary Club in Madill.
“In keeping with a vision to keep the church present in the lives of its young people, I make attendance at school sports, band and choir concerts, academic meets, baccalaureates and commencements and other events a regular part of my weekly schedule. I like to seek out ‘underground’ ways of community involvement as well, ranging from arranging gift packages to new teachers in our community, ‘extra tip’ gift cards for restaurant wait staff for our church members to distribute when they eat out at Easter, visiting a laundromat with a roll of quarters to offer people help with their clothes, gift and goody baskets for people who work Christmas Eve and other ways to ‘show up’ in unexpected places in people’s lives and in my community.”
Thomasson believes the most effective churches minister to and are members of their communities. They see needs and try to help meet them to the best of their ability, using the gifts and resources God has given them. “Our United Methodist Church’s mission statement is ‘to make disciples of Jesus Christ,’ and we do that wherever we are,” said Thomasson. “Recently, Pawhuska has had some expanded opportunities in its downtown area and that offers some new places we can look for how we will minister to our community. We’ll find out what those are as the Holy Spirit leads us and we pray for guidance, and it may turn out to be something we’d never even figured on before the idea came to us.
“The Velma Oakes center gives us an important role in our community, as it is used for some different events and meetings. All of these connections are places where the body of Christ in the church can communicate, through words and actions, with the people outside the church.”