As announced by Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi on February 15, 2021, WPAUMC will implement an experimental district leadership model in the Indiana and Franklin districts on July 1st, concurrent with Indiana District Superintendent Jim Pond’s retirement.
With the Rev. Jodie Smith appointed as the Superintendent for both the Franklin and Indiana districts, and with support from Connellsville District Superintendent Robert Zilhaver, as well as an elder appointed as Ministry Assistant in each of the three districts (Thomas Carr, Franklin; Howard Greenfield, Indiana; and Robert Ellson, Connellsville), we have an excellent group of experienced clergy leaders to support this bold and exciting endeavor.
The Sustainability Task Force not only believes that this can be a more cost-effective model for superintending, but one that enables opportunities to strengthen the relationship between the Superintendent and Laity in leadership positions and better leverage experienced clergy leaders, allowing the Superintendents to focus more of their time as the Chief Missional Strategist for their districts.
Moreover, we see this as an opportunity to refocus ministry and mission efforts within our local churches and communities.
Coupled with the Regional Staff Pilot Programs, we will be focusing staff resources on local churches and communities within seven of our 10 districts. While the Superintendency and Regional Staff models can be implemented independently of one another, obtaining feedback from a broader cross-section of our Conference will be invaluable in future decision-making.
As the Sustainability Task Force discerned alternative approaches and models for superintending, the ability to undertake change that did not require immediate modifications to our current structures was critical. For example, reducing the number of districts and/or redrawing district lines to reduce the number of district offices was not considered. Maintaining the integrity of the existing districts was a key factor in developing the Shared District Leadership Model.
Clearly there is uncertainty in our future, but that should not be a reason or excuse to NOT take action, to NOT try new things. Furthermore, this should NOT be a time to take action that is driven purely by financial considerations. The Sustainability Task Force believes our approach strikes an appropriate balance of living into the temporal needs of our local churches, while applying the financial rigor and responsibility that is called for in our current situation.
For more information, see the Shared Superintendency FAQs.