Executive Director and Host
Steve Casteel is the Executive Director and host of The United Methodist Hour. His vision and outlook are just what this ministry needs. Steve also serves as pastor of Heritage UMC in Hattiesburg, MS. He is known for his presentations on "H20" and talks showcasing his trademark saying, "Live Loved." He is the author of the books Down To Earth and H20 Living Water. He enjoys movies and has an extensive collection of comic books. "I love a good story," says Steve. Steve and his wife Cindy live in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
KEITH TONKEL (1936-2017)
Keith's segments will continue to appear on The Hour
after the closing credits at the end of the program.
Keith Tonkel was born in New Orleans on January 15, 1936 and was reared in the Crescent City and in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. He served as pastor of Wells United Methodist Church in Jackson from June, 1969 until his death in 2017. He was licensed as a local preacher in the Methodist church in 1954 and ordained as an elder in 1962, after he was graduated from Millsaps College with a BA in Philosophy and from Emory University School of Theology.
During his time at Emory, he served a psychiatric residency at Georgia Baptist Hospital and on the staff of Northside Methodist Church in Atlanta.During his tenure at Wells, a church that has maintained an active witness to its inner-city neighborhood in transition, Keith had the opportunity to accept invitations to conduct revivals, seminars and camp meetings across the continental United States and in other countries. He led an average of 18 revivals each year, primarily in Mississippi and Louisiana.
He was the author of four books.
He served as Sunday School teacher and Ministerial Advisor of The United Methodist Hour, Time That Makes A Difference, which is seen on television stations throughout Mississippi and the southeast. During his years at Guinn Memorial in Gulfport, Keith served as a single foster parent for children under the jurisdiction of the Harrison County Youth Court. In 1968, he acquired a partner in that effort--and in his larger ministry--by marrying Patsy Joyce Myrick. Their children include Shelley Tonkel , Tracy Tonkel Furniss, and Anthony Tonkel Puckett. Tracy and her husband, Jeff, are the parents of Porter Dayton Furniss, Carson Keith Furniss, and Griffin Wells Furniss along with numerous foster children.
Over the years, he received state and national awards for community service and he served on the boards of several service agencies. Some specific awards include:
-Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, 2008
-Emma K. Elzy Award, 2007 (MS Conference Commission on Religion and Race)
-Distinguished Religious Leadership Award (2005)
-Alvis Hunt Humanitarian Award (2002)
-Humanitarian of the Year, Epilepsy Foundation (2001)
-Harry E. Denman Evangelism Award, MS Conference, UMC (1999)
-Friendship Award, Jackson 2000 (1999)
In his spare time, he enjoyed helping people find good deals on cars, and he enjoyed traveling--especially in the Western United States and overseas. He also maintained a regular physical exercise regimen and enjoys reading, writing and listening to books on tape.
Director of Production
Anthony is a national award-winning television producer who is the Director of Production for The Hour. Anthony’s work has been featured on “Good Morning America,” “Fox and Friends,” cnn.com and other media outlets across the country.
Anthony produced commercials also, directing Morgan Freeman, Dolly Parton, Brooke Shields, Kathy Lee Gifford and others. “The Gulf: Prayers and Photographs” was published in 2010 using over 150 of Anthony’s photographs, and his watercolor painting technique was featured on a television program called “Southern Sketches,” which Anthony hosted for two years. His art is now featured on The Hour in "Drawn to Christ" segments. Anthony is an award-winning educator and writer, as well.
His columns and short stories have been featured in South Mississippi Scene and other magazines. Anthony is married to Amy Bryant Thaxton. They are the parents of Bryant and Sydney and live in Raymond, MS.
Visit thaxtonstudios.com for more.
LATOYA REDD THOMPSON
Your Ministry Matters Contributor
LaToya Redd serves the Mississippi Annual Conference as a District Lay Leader. Her servant's heart makes her the perfect person to present our weekly "Your Ministry Matters" segment on the United Methodist Hour television program. LaToya is also currently serving in the legal field and lives in Mississippi with her husband, Pastor Marcus Thompson.
Ritchie Carter handles all of the numbers for The Hour. His servant heart is a great addition to our family. Ritchie lives with his wife in Brandon, Mississippi.
Development and Public Relations
Nan Bryant handles the day to day communications with our viewers and donors. Nan sends statements and communications and handles events. Nan lives with her husband, Ace Bryant, in Raymond, Mississippi.
Online Store and Website Management
Social Media Director
Amy is our newest addition to The Hour family, but she is no stranger to our ministry. Amy has helped with the Mississippi Annual Conference Production for the past nine years and is currently on board to facilitate a broader use of our online presence. Amy was an award-winning English teacher and serves Thaxton Studios in the areas of project managment and design services. Amy is the wife of producer, Anthony Thaxton. They live with their two children, Bryant and Sydney Elizabeth, in Raymond, MS.