Core leaders announced

Seven Directors and nine District Superintendents will partner in ministry in the new Michigan Conference.

Senior Editor-Writer, Michigan Conference

LANSING, Michigan | December 15, 2017 – Today Bishop David Alan Bard announced the names of seven Directors of the new Michigan Conference. He also released the appointments for superintendent assignments for the nine new Districts.

Together, with the Bishop, these 16 persons will put their skills and gifts to work focusing the vision and shaping the mission for the 140,000 United Methodists in the state when the new conference begins functioning on July 1, 2018.

All elements of the Design Team’s work, including this staffing model, have been organized around meeting the vision and mission for the Michigan Conference and were affirmed at the 2017 shared Annual Conference last June.

Bard explained, “We are working to organize our life together so that, centered in Jesus Christ, we are engaged in mission and ministry to our communities and the world, we are led by and are nurturing and encouraging bold and effective leaders, and we are supporting and fostering vibrant congregations.”

The Bishop called these leaders for the new day, “an essential element in our life together.” There are familiar faces among those chosen, and there are some new faces, as well.

Directors continuing in service are: the Rev. John Boley, Clergy Assistant to the Bishop; David Dobbs, Director of Administrative Services and Conference Treasurer; Mark Doyal, Director of Communications; the Rev. Don Emmert, Director of Conference Benefits; and the Rev. Benton Heisler, Director of Connectional Ministry.

Rev. Jennifer (Jennie) Browne will serve in the new position, Director of Clergy Excellence. She is currently the pastor of Georgetown United Methodist Church. Another new director position, Church Vibrancy, will be served by the Rev. Dirk Elliott. Elliott has been acting as the Area Director of New Church Development.

District Superintendents are to be close partners in the new approach to staffing. Seven of the current Superintendents will continue with new assignments including the Reverends Scott Harmon, Anita Hahn, David Kim, John Hice, Dwayne Bagley, Elizabeth Hill and Charles Boayue. The Rev. Dr. Margie Crawford and the Rev. Dr. Jerome (Jerry) DeVine come on the Cabinet as leaders of the new District 4 and District 5 respectively. Click here to read more.

Superintendent assignments are shared in the info graph below. Click here for links to detailed maps and lists of the nine new Districts that will be under the care of these persons.

While many faces are the same, roles and responsibilities are significantly different. “It is a time of transition for all of them, even those who are already in leadership,” Bishop Bard said. “While the personnel may be the same, the way we work is changing.”

With fewer districts and sharper focus, leaders “will be using their experience to develop new ways of being in ministry with the local church,” said Bishop Bard. Cooperation and collaboration are vital toward fulfilling the vision for the Conference. Together the Directors and Superintendents make up an implementation team. These two leadership groups will work in partnership with the Conference Leadership Team, members to be announced later this spring.

Ellen Zienert, Conference Personnel Committee Chair, helped in the development of the Director Model. She said, “Clarity and flexibility are crucial practices that will be needed. I am excited as I envision what I believe will be a greater sense of the Spirit’s power and God’s grace working through us to increase congregational vitality and missional focus so that together we are transforming lives and making new disciples.”

What lies ahead? The process for determining Associate and Administrative Assistant positions will take place this winter. District organization—naming, visioning, nominations, activity planning, budgeting– will be done in the months leading up to Annual Conference. The nine new D.S.s begin ministry with their districts and Directors come together as a team on July 1, 2018.

The location of district offices will be part of the organization happening through the spring. Directors’ offices will be housed at the Conference Center in Lansing and in the nearby Conference Center North.    

Bishop Bard asks all to be in prayer during this time of transition.



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