A native Mississippian and cradle Methodist, Heather grew up at Forest Hill Methodist Church in south Jackson where she was baptized and confirmed by Reverend Otho Brantley in 1971. She is a graduate of Millsaps College, Jackson, MS and received her Master of Divinity degree from St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, MO. Heather remained in Kansas after graduation and served the Kansas East Conference for almost ten years. An ordained elder, Heather has served in a variety of settings including campus ministry, multi-charge rural ministry, and as the Pastor of Evangelism at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Homesick for the South and to be closer to her parents, Heather returned to Mississippi in 2002. Her most recent church appointment was to Main Street United Methodist Church in Bay St. Louis. This was Keith Tonkel’s home church and where he accepted the call to enter the ministry. Heather was appointed Superintendent of the Seashore District on September 1, 2012, and appointed Brookhaven District Superintendent on July 1, 2015.
In 2012 Bishop Hope Ward asked Heather to become the Seashore District Superintendent. After the death of her colleague in the Brookhaven District she served as DS to both Seashore and Brookhaven districts for six months. In July of 2015 she became the Brookhaven District Superintendent exclusively. Heather is a trained Transitional Interim Ministry Specialist. She is trained in Sexual Ethics and the Church and currently serves as Coordinator for the MS Conference Healing Team. While a superintendent she represented the cabinet on the Board of Discipleship and the Board of Medical Benefits. She is the Mississippi Delegate to the World Methodist Council. She is a past board member to Millsaps College and Gulfside Assembly and currently serves on various other mission and ministry boards in the conference.
Heather is the youngest of four children. Her dad passed in 2014, but her mother is still going strong at eighty-eight! Heather’s oldest sibling, Dale, is also a United Methodist minister.
In her spare time Heather loves to work on her farm in Lincoln County, fish, read, cook, and entertain her hounds, Trigger (a Weimeraner) and Sugar (a beagle). She loves all kinds of music, especially the blues. On any given evening you might find her buried in a Sister Fidelma mystery, listening to Dave Brubeck, and simmering a pot of red beans.