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Cape calls on Board of Directors for “adaptive leadership”

Tom Gillem
March 17, 2015

More and more of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s work is becoming cross-divisional as the agency adapts to the changing needs of the church, said the Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary at GBHEM.

“The church is asking us to be different and do different things than it has in the past, and we are adapting to these changing needs,” Cape told the agency’s board members March 11, 2015, at their semiannual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

GBHEM served primarily in the past as a regulatory agency, both with the University Senate and the Candidacy and Boards of Ordained Ministry, and most of that work continues, she said.

“But we are shifting our weight from a regulatory agency to a capacity-building agency,” Cape said.

For example, under the leadership of Associate General Secretary Gerald Lord, the University Senate now focuses more on church-relatedness of United Methodist schools, and less on areas that regional accrediting bodies cover, she said.

“We are also doing this through being the lead agency in the ‘leadership’ focus area, which includes the work the General Conference of 2012 specifically tasked us to do,” Cape said.

Cape cited several highlights of recent accomplishments at GBHEM, including:

  • The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Women of Color Scholars Program, a United Methodist scholarship and mentoring program for women of color pursuing doctoral degrees in theological and religious education. “We celebrate 39 graduate scholars who are teaching in seminaries and theological schools all over the world,” she said.
  • The Young Clergy Initiative. “I am proud that we were able to leverage the $7 million ($5.2 million actual) from General Conference into $12 million by requesting matching funds. I am very proud that we are good stewards of the church’s money,” Cape said.
  • The Central Conference Theological Initiative, which has made two rounds of grants and will distribute a third round next year.
  • Developing global partnerships. “Later this month we will be in Nairobi, Kenya, to meet with the newly formed African Association of United Methodist-related Theological Institutions (AAUMTI) and the African Association of Methodist Institutions of Higher Education (AAMIHE), presenting a training workshop on fundraising and promoting a culture of generosity,” she said.
  • The E-Reader Project with Discipleship Ministries. “This project is gaining momentum. E-reader training has been held in the Democratic Republic of Congo for Kamina and Kabongo seminaries. Students from Kabongo walked two days to get their Kindles,” she said.

A full version of Cape’s State of the Board Address is available here in PDF and here in video. 

The board also honored Stan Horwood of Sterling City, Tex., for his $1 million gift to theological education. The gift, in memory of his wife Elizabeth, will endow a scholarship fund for seminary students from the Rio Texas Annual Conference. “Generosity is a spiritual gift that should be nurtured like any other gift. We are very grateful for Mr. Horwood’s generosity,” Cape said.

Dr. Russell E. Richey, gave the 2015 Willson Lecture based on his recent book, Formation for Ministry in American Methodism, on Thursday morning. This lecture series is provided by an endowment from James M. and Mavis Willson of Floydada, Tex. The Willson Lectures are designed to contribute to the spiritual and intellectual enrichment of people from the boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church. The lectures also present the scholarly contributions of leaders in higher education and educational philanthropy to the Nashville community.

Approval of the GBHEM Quadrennial Budget Proposal, daily worship and a general conference orientation were also a part of the three day meeting. The board received preliminary reports by Amy Gearhart, Kim Ingram and Meg Lassiat from the Ministry Study Committee, as well as the Young Clergy Initiative report by Ianther Mills and Trip Lowery. The Young Clergy Initiative has begun to receive evaluation reports from the 75 grant funded projects. All evaluation reports are expected by summer 2015.

The Rev. Forbes Matonga, pastor-in-charge at Nyadire Mission Centre in Zimbabwe, preached at the closing worship service of Word and Table, and Bishop David Kekumba Yemba, resident bishop of the Central Congo Episcopal Area, was the celebrant. A recording of Matonga's full sermon is available here.

Gillem is a writer and photographer in Brentwood, Tenn.