Andy Noel: A leader in faith
- Written by Bruce Olson
Tribunes Community leader series Reverend Andy Noel is man of faith. He ministers to people in their most personal and emotional of times about their hopes, dreams, challenges and fears. He serves and supports his community and congregation day in and day out. He is a leader; a leader in faith. My title is Senior Pastor of Atascocita United Methodist Church (UMC) most people call me Pastor Andy, he said in describing himself. Noel came to Atascocita UMC in Sept. 2008. Previously, he served in churches in Montrose, Lake Conroe and River Oaks. His job is to support Vision of the UMC to move Upward in the relationship with God, Inward in taking the next steps with Jesus and Outward in serving as called by the Spirit. My overall role is to help as many people as I can shepherd along that path. What I do is really four things. I cast vision, I preach to communicate the word of God, I pastor to take care of the flock and I have a priestly function which is to administer the sacraments such as baptism and Holy Communion, he said. Noel explained his most important responsibility is to move Outward. We are here for a reason and that is to make a difference in our community, particularly to the lost, the least and the last; those at the margins, he said. Noel is working to make that difference. He and his church are committed to the Kids Hope USA mentoring programs in two elementary schools. Noel is on the Board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM) and the church supports it with both food donations volunteers. He is active in Family Promise of Lake Houston (FPLH) with its programs for assisting homeless families in getting back on their feet and living independently. Noel pointed out that his focus is on helping kids, the homeless and the poor. Noel was born in Columbia South Carolina, the son of an IBM executive. As a result of his dads career, while he was growing up he lived in Connecticut, New Jersey, the Carolinas, Maryland and Virginia. He came to Texas to attend SMU in Dallas where he earned Business and English degrees in 1980. Before college he always thought he wanted to go into journalism or follow his Dad into the computer business. After two courses in journalism at SMU I knew that was not for me and I followed my Dad, he said. He joined IBM upon graduation and eventually joined Tenneco and came to in Houston 1986. His career change from business to the ministry was a gradual process over 10 years. My purpose in life drifted from making money to making disciples. Gradually over time I got more involved with the church. One of the things you know you want to do is when you cannot imagine doing anything else. That was it, Noel said. He returned to SMU and graduated magna cum laude with a Masters from the Perkins School of Divinity in 2003. He is currently working on his Doctorate in Ministry. Noel is married and has two daughters. I have been married for almost 20 years to my bride Katie Kennedy, now a retired civil court judge who is doing mediation work today, he said. Becca, his youngest daughter, is in the ninth grade. Katherine, his older daughter by previous marriage is in the real estate business in Perryton TX. He loves golf and gardening and being with Katie and Becca. My favorite movie is One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. I like movies that make you think, he said. Noel credits his father as being his biggest source of inspiration. Dad taught me what it was to be a man. He taught me principals, loyalty, being good and doing the right thing. He was my mentor, he said. Planning the transition to the churchs new addition, a 19,000 square foot building now under construction, is Noels current big project because it will change every aspect of the churchs scheduling and operating routines from Sunday worship times to weekday pre-schools and all other activities. Noel pointed out that the new building will also enable the church to grow its classroom activities. He has a long term project in mind to develop an academy or a music arts program, probably in the next two to three years. Noel, as a leader in faith, has clearly found what satisfies him. I have the best job in the world. I get to help people, he said.