The Rev. James W. Foster, area provost for The Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, received the 2005 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Southwestern University Sept. 16. The Distinguished Alumna/us Award is the highest honor annually awarded by The Association of Southwestern University Alumni. Recipients exemplify the qualities of excellence as taught and represented by Southwestern.

A native of Houston, Foster received an undergraduate degree from Southwestern University in 1972. He then attended Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, receiving his masters of theology in 1977.

Upon graduation from Perkins, Foster began a 20-year career as a United Methodist minister in Texas, including appointments at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston, Pleasant Retreat United Methodist Church in Tyler, Ashford United Methodist Church in Houston, and St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Katy.

During his tenure as senior pastor of St. Peter’s, average worship attendance doubled, from 530 to more than 1,070. Foster also led the congregation through two successful building campaigns that provided additional sanctuary and education space.

In June 1997, Foster left his ministry as a local pastor and accepted an offer from Bishop Woodrow Hearn to become Area Provost for the Texas Annual Conference, the largest of the six United Methodist Conferences in Texas. In this position, he serves as a liaison between the Annual Conference and its 760 churches spread over 54 counties of East Texas. Foster is now working with Bishop Janice Huie, his third bishop as Area Provost.

His current responsibilities include overseeing the Texas Conference’s effort to raise $1 million dollars to assist displaced Louisiana residents living in Houston. Southwestern University plans to donate $25,000 to the Conference to support this project and has announced that the gift will be made in honor of Foster.

In addition to serving The United Methodist Church, Foster is involved with numerous civic and community activities. He was elected to the Southwestern University Board of Trustees in 1997 and is now in his third term on the board. He also has served on the Southwestern Alumni Association Board. He is a trustee of Wiley College and a former trustee of Lon Morris College, both United Methodist institutions of higher education.

Foster also serves as a board member for the Texas Methodist Foundation, Methodist Healthcare Systems, the Methodist Retirement Communities and the Methodist Children’s Home.

Foster and his wife, Rosemarie, live in Houston. They have two daughters, Stacye and Stefanie.

Foster’s research on “John Wesley: An 18th Century Vision for the 21st Century” served as the basis for a panel discussion held Friday, Sept. 16 on the Southwestern University campus.


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