The 2020-2021 Coordinating Cabinet Strategic Plan established a Sustainability Task Force to study and make proposals to sustain vital ministry in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference amid a myriad of cultural, institutional, financial, and personnel changes and dynamics. The Sustainability Task Force proposed an experimental model of supervision in which one district superintendent supervises two districts. Here are some frequently asked questions about the model, arranged by topic, with answers from the Sustainability Task Force.
1) Who is my district superintendent?
Rev. Jodie Smith is appointed by the Bishop as the Superintendent of the Franklin and Indiana Districts. Rev. Robert Zilhaver is appointed by the Bishop as District Superintendent of the Connellsville District.
2) What is Rev. Zilhaver’s role in the Indiana District?
Rev. Zilhaver’s work in the Indiana District is by invitation, consultation, direction and supervision of Rev. Jodie Smith, the Indiana District Superintendent.
1) Does this experimental model change the laity leadership in the three districts?
Part of the goal of this model is to celebrate and enhance lay leadership in each district, so each district will keep its current district lay leadership positions and committees, such as district lay leader, director of lay servant ministry, missions, programming, United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, etc.
2) Does the experimental model prohibit Lay Servant Ministry Schools or other mission, programming and advocacy work being shared across districts?
No, each district retains authority to work cooperatively with other districts.
1) Does each of the three districts keep its own DCOM?
Yes, each district will have its own DCOM and the appointed DS will be responsible for their respective DCOMs (¶666 of the Book of Discipline). Rev. Jodie Smith, as the district superintendent appointed to the Indiana District, may invite Rev. Zilhaver to consult or work with the Indiana DCOM.
1) Which superintendent will attend the District Committee on Superintendency meetings?
The DS appointed to the district will be the one to attend its District Committee on Superintendency meeting. In the case of the Indiana District, Rev. Smith may invite Rev. Zilhaver to attend.
2) Will each of the three committees on district superintendency participate in the evaluation of the experimental model?
Yes, each district committee on superintendency will participate in the evaluation of the experimental program and its impact on its particular district.
1) Which superintendent will be responsible for charge conferences?
Each DS will be responsible for charge conferences in the districts they are appointed to. Rev. Smith may invite Rev. Zilhaver to attend annual cluster charge conferences and other charge conferences in the Indiana District.
1) Which superintendent will be responsible for consultation with PPRCs?
The DS appointed to the district will be responsible for consultation with the PPRCs in their district.
2) Which superintendent will be responsible for consultation with PPRCs in the Indiana District?
Rev. Jodie Smith may invite Rev. Robert Zilhaver to attend annual consultations with PPRCs in the Indiana District.
1) Which superintendent will be responsible for consultation with pastors?
The DS appointed to the district will be responsible for consultation with the pastors appointed in their district(s). Rev. Smith may invite Rev. Zilhaver to attend consultations in the Indiana District.
1) Will there still be a district office in in each district?
Yes! Each district office will remain open and serve each district. We want to continue the good ministry and mission connections in each district.
2) Will there continue to be a district administrative assistant in each district?
Yes, the district administrative assistant position will remain and continue to serve each district.
3) Will each district have a ministry assistant to the district superintendent?
Yes. Connellsville, Franklin and Indiana District will each have a ministry assistant appointed by the Bishop.
4) What do ministry assistants to the DS do?
Ministry assistants to the district superintendent are part-time, exempt staff positions. They are elders appointed by the bishop. They assist the DS to fulfill the responsibilities outlined in ¶419 of the Book of Discipline. They are ex-officio members without vote to the DCOM and the committee on district superintendency in the district to which they are appointed.
5) Are ministry assistants to the DS members of the appointive or coordinating cabinet?
No, ministry assistants to the district superintendent are not members of the appointive or coordinating cabinet.
1) Will the experimental model for supervision cost more?
The new model is expected to result in significant savings for the Conference. The projected savings in the first year is $55,000. If successful, extending this model to cover our remaining districts could free up $1M+ over 5 years, which could be reinvested into our ministries or passed on as apportionment savings to our local churches.
2) When will the decision be made to expand this model to other districts?
The model studied by the Sustainability Task Force centered around decision discernment by the coordinating and appointive cabinet when current district superintendents leave the cabinet.
3) How will the experimental model for supervision be evaluated and future decisions made?
The Sustainability Task Force and the Coordinating Cabinet will develop and conduct a review of this program in consultation with committees on district superintendency. After reviewing the evaluation, the Appointive Cabinet will use its disciplinary discernment process for appointment making.
4) What if the review demonstrates that the experimental model of supervision does not improve the sustainability of the ministry of the annual conference?
If this model is not successful, after reviewing the evaluation, the Appointive Cabinet will use its disciplinary discernment process for appointment making to restore the current model for supervision or try another model.