Conference Announces New Supervisory Model



The past few years have been difficult for us all, due in large part to the COVID pandemic and conversations around disaffiliation. Yet, despite this challenging season we have been witness to innovative ways of doing ministry that cares for both United Methodists and new people seeking a faith community. We celebrate the emerging relationships and opportunities as vital and unique ministries flourish, in spite of significant upheaval.

While the full impact of disaffiliation is yet unknown, Conference leadership is working to be proactive in the ways we care for our members and churches. We are examining ways to become more nimble and deliberate, to capitalize on our strengths and restructure in ways that make sense. We are experiencing some transitions in our congregations and conference, allowing us to dream of fresh ways to do ministry. Through these transitions, we believe God is guiding us forward and providing a unique opportunity for God’s church to do new things – even in supervision. 

Therefore, after much prayer and discernment we are excited to announce that we will begin a new model of supervision for pastors and churches in the Western PA Conference of the United Methodist Church.

While the boundaries of the ten districts will remain the same, five supervisory areas will be established with superintendents providing supervisory care and oversight for two districts each. We are not recommending redistricting as part of this supervisory plan, but simply reorganization and refocusing.

This new supervision model will happen in two phases, with the ultimate goal of full implementation of the five supervisory areas in July of 2024. This two phase approach was decided to best use natural transitions and to minimize disruption. Beginning July 1, 2023, we will begin reducing the number of Conference Superintendents who will provide supervisory care and oversight.

Three initial supervisory areas will be established immediately on July 1 of 2023:

  • Butler & Franklin: Rev. Deborah Ackley-Killian
  • Pittsburgh & Greensburg: Rev. Paul Ritchey
  • Johnstown & Indiana: Rev. Sung Chung
Two more supervisory areas will be established on July 1 of 2024, :
  • Connellsville & Washington: Rev. Ross Pryor
  • Erie-Meadville & Kane: Rev. Sang Choi

While the geographical area covered by each District Superintendent is increasing, the number of churches each DS will cover will be similar to current numbers. In our current configuration, we are operating with more superintendents per number of  churches than many other annual conferences. This new configuration will right-size coverage in order to maximize efficiency, with each superintendent caring for approximately 100-125 churches.
There are some important facts to remember as we begin to move into this new model of supervision. 
  1. These decisions are made with the full understanding that God is expecting God’s church to always be open to change for a new day and for new possibilities. These decisions are made out of a sense of newness and possibility. 
  2. These coverage areas will allow the new number of churches/charges per Superintendent to remain similar to the current numbers. 
  3. There will be new ways of supervision. One way is to utilize effective local pastors and elders as ministry partners to do some of the ongoing work of ministry in the coverage area. 
  4. Every church and every pastor will have a Superintendent with whom they will relate and have direct contact. 
  5. Current district committees will work with their District Superintendent to determine what is the best way to accomplish their tasks. 
  6. The offices for now will stay open, but as we continue to examine what this new model looks like there may be shifting of administrative support and parsonages.
  7. This current change in supervision will position the Western PA Conference well for whatever General and Jurisdictional Conference may decide about the number of Episcopal areas and number of Bishops. 

We will keep you updated as things progress. We welcome your questions and encourage you to email to our office or to your current Conference Superintendent. 

In this season of transitions, we celebrate that God is providing an opportunity for us to do ministry and supervision in a new way. Now is the time for bold action and ministry and to follow where God is leading.