Bishop John L. Hopkins, in consultation with the conference personnel committee, intends to appoint the Rev. Steven D. Court as East Ohio Conference director of connectional ministries.
“Steve has an exceptional set of skills for overseeing the Conference program ministries,” Hopkins said. “He has a heart for missions, a background in business, a proficiency in technology, and an understanding of systems that yield results.”
“I am amazed and humbled to find myself in this place,” Court said. “I wonder, ‘who could ever do this job?’ The day-to-day call of the church to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ in this rapidly changing world can seem overwhelming – especially given the size and complexity of this annual conference. Then a still small voice reminds me, ‘nothing is impossible with God.’”
Court will succeed the Rev. Paul R. White, who is retiring after 40 years of ministry in East Ohio, the last 12 as director of connectional ministries. The appointment is effective July 1.
“I look forward to the new leadership that Steve will bring,” said Jane Ruggles, chair of the personnel committee. “I appreciate all that Paul has done for this conference. As hard as it is to imagine replacing him, I take comfort in knowing that God has always provided for us.”
Court is the current superintendent of the Southern Hills District. He was appointed to the cabinet in 2008 and this year is serving as its dean. Court has been instrumental in introducing cloud-based technology to improve the way the cabinet utilizes year-end statistics and shares and summarizes reports about churches and members of clergy.
“The greatest lesson I have learned by serving on cabinet is that we cannot do this alone. God equips us through serving with others as a part of this community of faith – the Body of Christ, the people of the East Ohio Conference and the connection of the United Methodist Church,” Court said.
In addition to his work on the cabinet, Court is a member of the conference strategic vision team. He has been trained and has served in numerous Vital Congregations/Congregational Development programs and supported a network for the district administrative assistants that significantly improved the way district offices relate to the conference and to one another.
“Christ becomes visible and present in our lives and in our world when we take risks, make mistakes, confess our sin, receive forgiveness, celebrate success, and grow together in Christian love. This has certainly been my experience of the teaching, vision and leadership of Bishop John Hopkins,” Court said.
“It has also been my experience of the encouragement, support, and sacrificial leadership of Paul White, Gary George, Jessica Vargo, and Rick Wolcott. I am honored and challenged to walk in faith with these leaders and with those who have gone before them.”
The Galion, OH native was deeply influenced by and came to faith at Saint Paul United Methodist Church. He received his call to ordained ministry as an adult while serving as a volunteer youth leader at New Dover United Methodist Church in New Jersey.
Court began his ministry at the Allerton/Norton UMCs near Clinton, NJ while in seminary and later served St. John’s UMC in Hope, NJ. After transferring to the East Ohio Conference in 1995, he served Senecaville/Mt. Ephraim UMC for three years and then Strasburg United Methodist Church for nine.
“My prayer for the East Ohio Conference,” Court said “is that we will grow together in faith and in fruit as I enter this new chapter in God’s call to be and help others become followers of Jesus.”
Court began his professional life as a systems analyst with Exxon Chemical Technology in New Jersey and Texas. He finds meaning and spiritual growth in Bible study, conversation, youth fellowship, and hands-on service, including disaster response and mission teams.
A graduate of The Ohio State University and of Drew University, Court and his wife, Elsa, are parents of two daughters and a son.