The Rev. Mark Holland, a United Methodist pastor, has been elected mayor of the unified government of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte, Kan. Dr. Holland, pastor of Trinity Community (United Methodist) Church, won with 56 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election.
“It’s an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” he said when asked by phone today of his reaction. “I’m fourth generation in Wyandotte County, and a third generation pastor in Kansas City.”
Dr. Holland has served since 2007 as an at-large commissioner for the Wyandotte County/Kansas City government. He was mayor pro-tem from May 2009 to May 2011.
He won endorsement for mayor from the Kansas City Star, which praised his knowledge of local government and ability to see “the entire picture of what still ails the county.” The outgoing mayor, Joe Reardon, also endorsed Dr. Holland.
The Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the nearby United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kan., praised voters’ decision in electing Dr. Holland as mayor.
“Mark is a gifted and passionate leader who loves his community,” Mr. Hamilton said by email. “He brings together the best of what it means to be pastor, prophet and now, politician and Kansas City will be the better for it!”
Dr. Holland, 43, takes office in May. He said that while his commissioner’s position was part-time, he’ll be working full time as mayor.
He will serve the church on a part-time basis, with staff and retired pastors who are part of the church taking on most administrative work.
“I’ll remain the senior pastor, preaching and casting the vision,” Dr. Holland said, adding that he had received the permission of his bishop, district superintendent and local church leaders before deciding to run.
Bishop Scott Jones, of the Great Plains Episcopal Area, confirmed that he had given Dr. Holland the green light.
“I am excited for Mark Holland’s service to Wyandotte County, and the way it will also strengthen his ministry at Trinity,” Bishop Jones said today by phone. “He’s is going to be part-time pastor, but it raises the visibility of the church within the community in a positive way.”
Dr. Holland pointed to another local United Methodist pastor/politician, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, as an example of someone able to balance ministry and public service. Mr. Cleaver was mayor of Kansas City, Mo., before entering Congress, and continued to lead St. James UMC in Kansas City Mo., while in office. (His son, the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III, now leads the church.)
Dr. Holland has been at Trinity Community Church, which averages about 140 in worship, since July 1999.
His great grandfather, the Rev. Dosson Holland, was a Methodist Episcopal Church South pastor. Dr. Holland’s father, the Rev. Ron Holland, is a retired United Methodist pastor who remains active at Trinity Community. He may help with the administrative load, Dr. Holland said.
Dr. Holland received his B.A. in philosophy and B.S. in anthropology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He earned his master of divinity from UMC-affiliated Iliff School of Theology, in Denver, and his doctor of ministry from UMC-affiliated Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo.
He’s married to Julie Solomon, and they have four children, Daniel, Gabriel, Luke and Esther, pronounced “Estaire.”
Dr. Holland said the area he’ll be mayor of has seen impressive economic growth on its west side, but still faces major problems.
“Our unemployment in the eastern side is double the state average,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of the urban challenges that cities all over the country have.”