District Superintendent, Metro District, North Texas Conference, United Methodist Church
Rev. Edlen Oltrent Cowley has served as an ordained clergyperson in the North Texas Conference (NTC) of the United Methodist Church since the year 2000. He was ordained a deacon in the year 2000 and an elder in 2003. As the son of a Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) church pastor, Edlen had many childhood homes: Senatobia, Mississippi; Atlanta, Georgia; Marshall, Texas; Houston, Texas; and Dallas, Texas. After earning a degree in Government and Politics from The University of Texas at Dallas in 1993, he entered Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University where he earned his Masters of Divinity degree in the fall of 1999.
Edlen has served in many diverse ministry settings; he was an Assistant/Associate Pastor in a large African-American church, St. Luke “Community” UMC, East Dallas (1994-2002), in a large Anglo church, St Andrew UMC, Plano (2006-2014). He has started two churches in the (NTC); a multi-ethnic church, The East Grand/Owenwood Foundry Church in East Dallas (2003-2006), and a suburban Anglo church, St. Andrew Frisco/Connection UMC in Frisco (2010-2014). Since 2014, Edlen has served as Senior Pastor of a suburban Anglo church, Fellowship UMC in Trophy Club. The church has seen membership, worship attendance, and budget growth. It has also intensified its efforts to connect and grow its ministry to children, youth, and young families. In his second year there, the church successfully completed a $160,000.00 renovation to all facets of the church beginning with its youth and children’s areas, and introduced a new worship schedule. These changes have created new energy and excitement; that energy and excitement has translated into a tangible momentum that is driving the church to new heights. He also created and implemented new systems and strategies for invitation, retention, discipleship, and outreach that are paying great dividends for the church.
Edlen has served in many (NTC) leadership positions. He served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry and as Candidacy Registrar for 10 years (2002-2012). He served as Chair of Mission Personnel for the Sending Servants Team, and was on the District Committee on Ministry for the former Dallas Northeast District. He has also served on the Clergy Retreat Planning Team and the North Central District Board of Building and Location.
Edlen currently serves as President of the African-American Clergy Fellowship (AACF) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the (NTC) Black Methodists for Church Renewal where he serves as Membership Chair. He also serves on the (NTC) Council on Finance and Administration. He is a Coach and Consultation Team member for the Healthy Church Initiative (HCI), a church development strategy that is administered through the (NTC) Center for New Church Development and Congregational Transformation. He is also a member of the Strategic Committee for New Church Starts in the (NTC). Edlen also coaches pastors through the Center for Leadership Development.
Edlen is very passionate about Small Group Ministry. He has taught several churches how to implement and execute small group ministries through his (3D) sessions on Designing, Developing, and Delivering small group strategy at the (NTC) Ministry Center. He wrote several small group studies while serving at St. Andrew and Fellowship.
Edlen is also very passionate about preaching. For the past two years he has served as a Hardin Family Preaching Mentor through the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at Perkins School of Theology/SMU at the invitation of its Director, Dr. Alyce McKenzie. Through this program, he has mentored and helped Perkins preaching students develop and craft their personal preaching styles and approaches. He is excited to have written and taught a brand new “3D” seminar on Designing, Developing, and Delivering Sermons & Overall Preaching Strategy to several pastors and church staff in the conference at the (NTC) Ministry Center in April 2017.
Edlen was a recipient of a Harold M. Kaufman Social Ethics award given by the Dallas – Levy Lodge B’nai Brith (2000), and was a recipient of an Inclusiveness Award given by the Anti-Racism team of the North Texas Conference (2004). In 2006 he taught the Multi- ethnic/Multi-cultural Pastors Track in the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries national “School of Congregational Development” in San Diego, Ca. In 2014, Edlen received an honor from Perkins School of Theology for exceptional service to the Perkins Intern Program as he completed service as a Mentor Pastor to five Perkins Interns.
In 2001, Edlen and his wife Jennifer served on the leadership team of then (NTC) Bishop William Oden’s Spiritual Formation Trip that guided more than 50 youth and young adults from the (NTC) to Paris, France and then on to the Taize community in Taize, France. He has also traveled to Mexico on mission trips with youth and young adults.
Edlen and his wife Jennifer have been married for 26 years. They have three children.