Bishop Ruben Saenz
South Central Jurisdiction
Great Plains Episcopal Area
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. is a native of South Texas and a lifelong United Methodist. He was elected bishop in 2016 at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference and assigned to the Great Plains Conference, based in Topeka, Kansas.
In his role as an episcopal leader in Kansas and Nebraska, Bishop Saenz has led three former conferences through a unification process that began in 2014. Under his leadership, the conference focuses on the four pillars of a robust ministry and witness for Jesus Christ in the Wesleyan tradition: Love God; proclaim Christ; serve others, especially the poor; and seek justice.
Bishop Saenz is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a former high school teacher, high school football coach, and businessperson. He earned his master’s of divinity and doctorate of ministry degrees from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. As a pastor, he focused his ministry on intentional spiritual practice and formation, developing a lay apostolate, and giving people the tools and encouragement to move out of generational poverty. He served congregations in East Dallas, Oak Cliff Dallas, El Paso, and Edinburg, Texas. El Buen Pastor — The Good Shepherd — in Edinburg, Texas, which was the largest Hispanic-American United Methodist Church in the country during his pastoral tenure.
In 2010, he was appointed to serve as the Southwest Texas director of congregational and new church development, and he helped start 11 new churches before being named director of the conference connectional ministries and executive director of the Rio Texas Conference’s Mission Vitality Center in January 2015. In that role, he oversaw the conference’s missional strategies and objectives for congregational vitality, starting new churches, clergy, and lay leadership vitality, uniting people, and transforming communities.
He enjoys drawing and painting landscapes with various mediums, endurance cycling, and hi-intensity workouts, fishing and golfing, an aromatic and flavorful cup of coffee from various regions of the world, visiting new places, meeting new people, and watching NFL football. He has a growing interest in writing for publication, Meso-American civilizations, the Abraham Lincoln presidency, learning how to dismantle systemic “isms,” and conflict-resolution that reconciles, restores, and rebuilds community.
Bishop Saenz has been married to Maye for 39 years. They have four children, all of which are active in the life of the church. Two of his sons, Aaron and Ruben III, serve as pastors of growing congregations in the Rio Texas Conference. He and Maye have nine grandchildren.