Bishop Tracy S. Malone intends to appoint the Rev. Beth Ortiz as director of Strategic Ministries effective July 1. The new position on the Conference Council on Ministries (CCOM) team will replace the director of Congregational Vitality when current director the Rev. Kelly Brown begins his new appointment as superintendent of the Three Rivers District.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to work with leaders, both clergy and lay, to help discover ways that our faith communities can embrace their calling and live it out more fully. Providing resources and assistance to help others see their visions become a reality is a passion of mine. I look forward to this amazing opportunity and can’t wait to get started,” Ortiz said.
Following news in January of Brown’s pending new appointment, Director of Connectional Ministries the Rev. Steven Court hosted a series of intentional conversations with Cabinet, the Board of Congregational Development, the Personnel Committee, and other East Ohio Conference leaders. The focus of those discussions was to discern how the position of director of Congregational Vitality might be adjusted to best serve the changing ministry contexts of EOC pastors, congregations, and faith communities.
“Making disciples is our primary purpose and the phrase that kept surfacing during our conversations was, ‘we need to be more strategic.’ Leaders expressed a desire to better focus time and energy at all levels on opportunities for growth,” Court shared. “The conversations also expressed concern for the health of the churches in our Conference and the urgency of making deep and sustainable changes in the ways we function so that we may bear fruit that lasts.”
As a result of information gleaned from the East Ohio Conference conversations as well as from reviewing full- and part-time ministry models used by other United Methodist conferences, and in close consultation with Cabinet and EOC leadership, Court changed the title of the position and revised the job description. Leadership determined that the director of Strategic Ministries needs the theological perspective, training, and complete focus of a full-time ordained clergy person so the position was advertised to all full-time clergy in the East Ohio Conference. Doing so gave persons who are familiar with the local context of the Conference the opportunity to express interest in the position. A review team reflecting Congregational Vitality, lay leadership, young clergy, and Conference leadership read the submitted applications, rated the candidates using a scoring process, and presented the information to Bishop Malone and the Cabinet.
“I am excited to welcome Beth to the CCOM team as director of Strategic Ministries. I have worked with her and have been impressed by her sense of mission, her ability to ask critical questions, her supportive presence, and the way she challenges me to think more deeply. I have heard many people express confidence in, and appreciation for, her leadership,” Court said.
Ortiz is currently pastor of two churches in the Mid-Ohio District, having been appointed to serve Kilbourne UMC in 2015 and Ashley UMC in 2017. She is a member of the East Ohio Conference Board of Ministry and previously served on the Conference Council on Young Adult Ministries and the Mid-Ohio District Missions and Strategy Committee.
When Ortiz begins her new appointment on July 1 she will do so under the supervision of a new director of Connectional Ministries. Rev. Ed Fashbaugh, current superintendent of the Three Rivers District, will succeed Court, who is retiring June 30 after seven years as director. Fashbaugh was actively involved in the conversations and discernment that led to the reimagining and renaming of the director position and was a key contributor in reviewing the applications for the director of Strategic Ministries.
“Building on the good work of Rev. Kelly Brown, Rev. Beth Ortiz, will be integral to CCOM’s continuing mission to empower and resource East Ohio churches to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people for Jesus Christ. Focused on this primary mission Beth will work hand-in-hand with districts, Extended Cabinet, and Conference leadership to develop and implement strategic action that multiplies vital discipleship,” Fashbaugh said.
“The East Ohio Conference is deeply committed to the vitality and sustainability of our local churches and faith communities. We continue to strategically align our staff and resources with our EOC vision so that we increase our capacity to live into our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Malone said.
Ortiz earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Youngstown State University and a Master of Divinity from Methodist Theological School in Ohio. She and her husband Felix are the proud parents of two daughters.