The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) Board of Directors has unanimously affirmed a new strategy to establish the agency as the resource center for leadership, education, and formation to support future and current church leaders of the United Methodist Connection.
The strategy, approved at the board’s summer meeting last week in Nashville, was developed following a detailed evaluation of GBHEM’s impact across the global church, which included identifying the resources and competencies needed in leaders of today and tomorrow.
“What we are doing here at Higher Education and Ministry is building capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation,” said the Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary at GBHEM. “I think that the church is asking us for both lay and clergy leadership development to navigate the changes that we are facing, both as a denomination, and in this country and the world.”
“Church leaders must be equipped to deal with diversity and the rapid pace of change, and be people of courage, vision and character,” Cape added. “It is our role to shape people to lead the community of faith. Those needs and those skills, knowledge, abilities and personality traits have evolved over time. We have an opportunity to move in the direction that I believe God’s calling us to move.”
The affirmation of the board, chaired by Bishop William McAlilly of the Nashville Episcopal Area, is its commitment to make the new strategy become a reality. The plan calls for the agency to:
- Expand its role in leadership development and formation, with the expectation that these efforts will strengthen ministry in all places leaders are called to serve, especially in United Methodist-related institutions
- Generate innovative programs, research and evaluation instruments aimed at bolstering and fortifying leadership skills, while ensuring that GBHEM fulfills its mandated charges
- Collaborate with other agencies and groups to expand the availability of varied, relevant and promising models and processes
- Support those functioning in leadership roles across the denomination, ranging from clergy, ministry professionals and parish laity to institutional and educational leaders, chaplains and pastoral counselors, recognizing that these varied groups confront unique challenges within the scope of their positions
In her General Secretary Address, Cape highlighted the plan which positions GBHEM to address the ongoing needs of the denomination to cultivate effective leaders and to forecast leadership requirements for the future of the church.
“This vision comes even as the church confronts important challenges,” Cape said. “Regardless of the outcome of legislative decisions regarding the future structure of the church, the need for the denomination to have effective leaders to serve at all levels of the church worldwide, including local churches, districts, the episcopacy, colleges and universities, community service organizations and other organizations and institutions, such as the military, jails, hospitals and counseling centers, will not diminish. We believe this plan provides a vital, comprehensive vision, one not covered elsewhere in the church.”
The Rev. Stephen Handy, senior pastor of McKendree United Methodist Church in Nashville, led the worship service at the board meeting and offered words of wisdom concerning the affirmation of the agency’s new strategy.
In addition to the Great Commission, Handy reminded the GBHEM board and staff, there is also the Great Commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” In that, he said, the agency will find its next steps.
“If you don’t love God first, then whatever you put on paper won’t matter,” Handy told the board and staff.
Also, at the meeting, the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, general secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, delivered the 2018 Willson Lecture entitled, “Between Private Sphere and Public Square,” to board members and guests.
Henry-Crowe, who has served as the social justice agency’s top executive since 2014, held up the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church as the latest examples of the rich tradition of “bold statements of conscience guiding the church and interfacing with society – taking stands for justice.”
“The genius of the Social Principles is that they address the issues where suffering, injustice and inequality exist,” Henry-Crowe said. “The Social Principles give the church an opportunity to speak and live out its faith in communities, societies and cultures all around the world. And they provide a way for religious voices to be heard in the halls of power.
“Bishops, the general agencies, annual conferences, pastors and churches find guidance and confidence in speaking on now the 76 statements, adopted by the General Conference as written by United Methodists from across the globe who face myriad injustices and inequities,” she said.
The Willson Lecture series is provided by an endowment from James M. and Mavis Willson of Floydada, Texas. The lectureship is 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.
To learn more about GBHEM and the board of directors, visit GBHEM.org.
About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.