Bishop Announces Shared District Leadership Model



As Indiana District Superintendent Jim Pond prepares to retire, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi announced a new experimental district leadership model. Her announcement follows.
The pandemic has reinforced the importance of our connection, teamwork, innovation, and good stewardship of our resources.  It has further affirmed that in Western Pennsylvania we can manage through change because God has been faithful to us in the midst of changing dynamics as we have had to develop new ways of being.

I have utilized all of these learnings in making the appointment for the District Superintendent of the Indiana District in the wake of the retirement of current superintendent Rev. Jim Pond.

Representatives from the Coordinating Cabinet, Committee on Finance and Administration, and the Connectional Leadership Team Executive Committee have been working together as a Sustainability Task Force.  They will make a full report to our annual conference once their work is complete. In the meantime, they have presented an innovative idea around superintendency which falls within the purview of the bishop and cabinet.  The proposal, I believe, will help us to mobilize our resources closer to the local church. 

District Superintendent Jodie Smith 

Therefore, I am very excited to announce that beginning July 1, I will appoint Franklin District Superintendent Jodie Smith as the Superintendent for both the Franklin and Indiana Districts. To support her in carrying out the the duties of the superintendency in two districts, I have asked Rev. Smith to work with Rev. Bob Zilhaver  She will determine when and how to utilize Rev. Zilhaver, who will continue as Connellsville DS, to assist her. 

In addition, I will appoint elders in the Franklin, Indiana, and Connellsville Districts to serve part-time to carry out some duties of a superintendent that can be delegated to elders. These elders might conduct charge conferences or organize district Volunteer in Mission projects. Rev. Smith will determine how to use those elders in the Franklin and Indiana Districts.  Rev. Zilhaver will make those decisions in the Connellsville District. 
District Supt. Robert Zilhaver

I will not include all of the details of this experiment here, but it is important to note that this is an experiment, so we will be making adjustments as we go.  We have established and will more fully develop evaluation and decision-making criteria. 

We will pilot this model for the 2021-22 appointment year and see how it works.  If it works, great.  We will then look to duplicate it gradually throughout the annual conference.  If it does not work, we will end it and try something else.  We will need to try something else because the data gathered by the Sustainability Task Force suggests that we may be top heavy in our administrative structure with regard to District Superintendents.

The fact is that we have more superintendents than any other annual conference in our jurisdiction.  With 10 superintendents, we even have more DS’s than the largest annual conference in the United States, North Georgia, which only has nine superintendents.

Please know that this experiment is not a precursor to merging districts.  I believe that we need to maintain 10 districts in order to cultivate the large pool of lay and clergy leadership we need to carry out the mission and ministry of our annual conference.

I have met with the District Committee on Superintendency for each of the districts involved.  Each district committee is excited about this opportunity and has committed to do all that it can to make this pilot successful.  They have already begun to think about how they can form relationships across the districts in order to enhance the ministry within each district.

The Indiana District, with its strong lay and clergy leadership, its well developed lay servant ministry program, and its numerous district-wide ministries is uniquely posed to be a part of this experiment. The Franklin District also brings the strength of its laity and clergy and its faithfulness to mission and ministry as resources which point to the potential success of the pilot.

The Connellsville District has become used to creative forms of cooperative ministry and will bring its learnings from those experiences to this endeavor, which is a cooperative ministry, of sorts, across districts.

Rev. Smith, because of her relational skills, experience with cooperative ministry and excellent administrative skills, is the right District Superintendent to lead this initiative.  Rev. Zilhaver, because of his connectionalism, gifts with administration, and strategic thinking will be an excellent partner in the pilot. In addition, some elements of this pilot were his brain child.  The fact that both of them are creative and work well with each other will undoubtedly support the success of this pilot.

Rev. Smith’s personal mission “To engage people in relationship and to share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to enable them to grow in their faith and to make disciples” is really the whole point of this experiment.  We are seeking to identify more effective ways to utilize our financial and people resources to share the Gospel and enable people to grow in their faith and in turn make disciples who transform the world. 

I covet your prayers for these three districts, superintendents, and additional supportive elders.