In a speech to employees on Wednesday, Rev. Dr. Kim Cape announced plans to retire as the general secretary of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) later this year. She has directed GBHEM, the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, since 2011.
Cape has served under appointment with The United Methodist Church for 43 years and her retirement comes at the end of her second four-year term as general secretary of GBHEM. She said that she began contemplating retirement in the fall of 2018 and now feels that the agency is prepared for a change in leadership.
“I am well aware that my retirement coincides with a major period of upheaval for The United Methodist Church,” she said. “I would not be able to leave if I did not have total confidence in the leadership team we’ve put together. They are outstanding. Through them, I believe we’ve assembled the vehicle that can carry the freight of our ministry forward.”
Throughout her time with the church, Cape has held the role of senior pastor with four congregations, worked in development for the Texas Methodist Foundation and Discipleship Ministries, and held multiple leadership positions with the Southwest Texas Annual Conference.
Her two terms at GBHEM have been characterized by an expansion of global higher education programs and the creation of an invaluable repository of leadership resources for the church. Cape oversaw the launch of major GBHEM initiatives like Effective Ministry 360 and GBHEM Publishing – which has published 42 books by United Methodist authors since 2016.
Additionally, under her leadership, the GBHEM Office of Loans and Scholarship has dramatically increased the amount of money students can borrow annually and it has awarded an average of $5.5 million in scholarships each year.
Cape said that she is most proud of the work GBHEM has done to nurture and support aspiring leaders in marginalized and underserved communities. In 2016, she was honored by the Society of Afro-Brazilian Socio-Cultural Development for GBHEM’s role in fostering greater educational opportunity through Zumbi dos Palmares College, the first minority education institution for African Brazilians.
“Leaving is always bittersweet, but it’s made easier by the knowledge that we’ve helped raise up so many new voices who can take my place,” Cape said.
The GBHEM board of directors is in Nashville this week for its regular spring meeting and will begin plans for the transition process to take place later this year. The board will form a search committee to seek candidates for the general secretary position. Cape has offered to aid and advise her successor in any way she can. Her last day in office will be June 1, but she will stay on as a consultant at least through late August. While they search for a permanent replacement, the board will appoint an interim general secretary to carry GBHEM through General Conference 2020.
In her closing remarks to employees, Cape referenced the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and the theologian’s reflections on the work all men and women of faith do in “God’s garden.”
“St. Teresa explains that although we are tasked with watering the garden, ultimately it belongs to God. We are simply called to tend it for a season,” said Cape. “I have tended my season, and I look forward to watching how our agency will bloom under the care of a new gardener.”
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 in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.