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Bishop announces appointment of new district superintendents

Bishop announces appointment of new district superintendents

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Bishop announces appointment of new district superintendents

By Erik J. Alsgaard | March 23, 2009 {0988}

NOTE: Headshots of the Revs. Tim Smiley and Craig Nelson are available at

LAKELAND, Fla. — Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker announced the appointment of two new district superintendents, effective July 1.

“I am pleased to announce that I am appointing the Rev. Tim Smiley to be the new superintendent of the North East District and the Rev. Craig Nelson to be the superintendent of the South East District,” Whitaker said. “Both of them will bring gifts and life experience that will enable them to serve effectively in their respective districts.”

Whitaker expressed his “deepest gratitude” to the Rev. Rick Neal, who is retiring after serving as North East District superintendent, and the Rev. Debbie McLeod, who is completing seven years as superintendent of the South East District.

“Both of them have served their districts with diligence and love, and both have given outstanding spiritual and temporal leadership on the cabinet,” the bishop said.

Rev. Tim Smiley

Smiley was born in Dayton, Ohio, but grew up in Orlando. He and his family worshipped and served as members of Azalea Park United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of Florida Technological University, now the University of Central Florida, and Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

After seminary, Smiley served as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Stuart, followed by appointments to Hope United Methodist Church in Melbourne and Miami Lakes United Methodist Church in Miami-Dade County. For the past 12 years he has served as senior pastor at Plantation United Methodist Church in the Ft. Lauderdale area.

Smiley is the current president of the Florida Conference Council on Finance and Administration and recently served on the Institute of Preaching committee. He previously chaired the Broward-Palm Beach and Miami district committees on ordained ministry and served on the Florida Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.

Smiley has also participated in the work of the South Florida Interfaith Worker’s Justice and BOLD Justice of Broward County.

Smiley and his wife, Candace, have been married for 33 years. Candace has a microbiology degree from the University of Central Florida and has worked in doctors’ offices and hospitals. She currently works in the microbiology laboratory at Cleveland Clinic of Weston.

The Smileys have three sons, Robert, David and Rick, who live in the South Florida area.

Rev. Craig Nelson

Nelson was born in California but grew up in Costa Rica where his parents were serving as missionaries. Attending elementary and high school at the Methodist school there, he grew up speaking Spanish. He returned to the United States to complete his undergraduate work at Houghton College, and while serving as a dorm director there, received a master’s degree from Buffalo State University. He married Janice Kibbe in 1986 and moved to Waco, Texas, where he worked as vice president of human resources for a finance company.

Following the call to ministry, Nelson and his wife moved to Miami where he served as a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries and Janice served as director of Christian education at South Miami United Methodist Church.

While working toward his Master of Divinity degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Nelson served a small church there and kept the books for the Atlanta office of World Relief Corp. 

In 1993, Nelson was appointed associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Coral Gables. In a mid-year move in 1996 he was appointed to Perrine-Peters United Methodist Church, also in the South East District. After seven years there, he was appointed to East Naples United Methodist Church where he has been serving as senior pastor.

Nelson has served on several boards and agencies, including the Florida Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, South West District leadership team, South East District Board of Church Extension and Mission, The St. Matthews House in Naples, Jackson Memorial Hospital Pastoral Care Board in Miami, the Jubilee Corp in Miami and others. He also served as conference disaster response coordinator.

Janice has served in many church capacities, including most recently running a large preschool and voluntary prekindergarten program at East Naples United Methodist Church. 

The Nelsons have two teenage boys, Peter and Drew.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.