“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!
Yes! God is doing a new thing in the East Ohio Conference and in these unprecedented times, God is making a way and unfolding new ministry and leadership possibilities.
As of July 1, 2022, district superintendency will look different for several districts in the Conference. I have spent the last several months in consultation with the Cabinet and with the district superintendents and district superintendency committees who will be affected in the new leadership configuration. I am thankful to each for their support of this strategic plan.
Considering the new ministry appointments of Rev. Dr. Steve Bailey and Rev. Doug Lewis, the 10 districts of the East Ohio Conference will now be served by eight district superintendents and there will be new superintendency models implemented in two regions of the Conference. Every district will have an appointed district superintendent. District administrative assistants will continue to serve as a vital partner to the district superintendent, pastors, and local churches.
These missional, strategic leadership changes will better position the Conference as we continue to be faithful stewards of our mission and resources and as we face the current pandemic realities, the pending separation of some of our local churches related to disagreements on matters of human sexuality, and the declining membership and financial trends of some of our churches.
To that end, effective July 1:
- Rev. Bruce Hitchcock, currently serving as the Ohio Valley District superintendent, will serve as the North Coast District superintendent.
- Rev. Laura White, superintendent of the Southern Hills District, and Rev. Kelly Brown, superintendent of the Three Rivers District, will expand their leadership to also serve as the co-superintendents of the Ohio Valley District.
- Rev. Nestor Nazario, currently serving as the Mid-Ohio District superintendent, will expand his leadership to also serve as the superintendent of the Firelands District. Currently, Rev. Donna Van Trees provides assistance to the Firelands District superintendent. She will continue to serve part-time and be appointed as district superintendent associate.
In this liminal space in which we find ourselves we are leveraging this time to make some new discoveries and to assess and explore the needs, realities, and opportunities within the districts and to create a sustainable structure as we move forward in mission. The two new district superintendency regional models are intentional steps to move us forward in this process.
I have named a District Realignment/Restructure Task Force made up of a diverse group of laity and clergy from across the East Ohio Conference to do assessment work and then bring a report to the 2023 Annual Conference.
Beloved of God, amid these realities we currently face, we still have a mission to fulfill. The mission of Christ is yet alive and we continue to be called to “… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and to remember the promise of Jesus Christ … “and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 [NIV])
The East Ohio Conference is committed to resourcing and equipping pastors, local churches, and faith communities in building a greater capacity for making and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ, for being God’s agents of healing, hope and transformation in your communities, and for reaching new, younger and a more diverse people. This is our work, our mission, and our vision.
Disciples make disciples! Transformed leaders transform their communities and the world!
Let us together, stay focused on our mission … abiding in Christ, being outwardly focused through discipleship, abounding in love towards our neighbors and spiritually centered in our leadership and actions.
Let us not dwell on the past and let us embrace what is new … God’s possibilities!
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Tracy S. Malone