The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) announced its blueprint for “Our Road Reimagined” in August, detailing plans to realign its culture and organizational structure to allow the agency to continue its mission in a more effective, innovative and sustainable way.
GBHEM’s mission is not changing, but the needs of the evolving United Methodist Church and its current economic realities have made it necessary to adapt and reimagine how the agency enacts that mission.
“We remain committed to helping United Methodist lay and clergy leaders discover, claim and flourish in God’s call on their lives,” said Rev. Greg Bergquist, GBHEM general secretary. “And we have to transform our approach in order to successfully carry out this important ministry into the future.”
Throughout last fall, GBHEM began carefully redesigning its organizational structure to transition to a more cross-functional (matrix) design. These changes allow departments like the Division of Ordained Ministry and the Division of Higher Education to align strategically, create more intentional collaborations, and build greater connections between the Church’s pastoral and academic ministries.
The agency’s realignment also includes policies to renew and reinvigorate its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and further strengthen its global focus.
“Our new structure opens the door for fresh and innovative opportunities,” said Bergquist. “This is a time for us to become more entrepreneurial and inventive in our approach.”
As GBHEM begins this evolution, constituents can continue to expect a high level of service and support. Some existing staff positions are evolving to fit the updated internal structure and a few additional roles have been created. These positions will be posted to GBHEM’s careers page as they become available.
While GBHEM looks confidently to the future, current economic pressures make it necessary to implement staffing changes at the agency. By the end of January, GBHEM will complete a 25 percent reduction in staff. Departing staff may apply for the limited number of added positions if eligible.
“This was an extremely difficult decision. We are losing many talented colleagues who have worked tirelessly to advance our mission over the years,” said Bergquist. “Unfortunately, we had to take this step to remain good stewards and continue supporting the Church in a significant way.”
United Methodist agency budgets have steadily dwindled alongside falling collections by the Church, and the financial downturn of 2020 exacerbated this problem. Bergquist noted that by the end of January – including attrition – GBHEM will have carried out a 34 percent reduction in its workforce since 2016 in order to keep pace with diminishing budgets.
“It’s a difficult time for everyone and I know we are all deeply disappointed by this need,” he said. “I hate saying goodbye to these colleagues. In addition to praying for them all during this time of transition, as an agency, we are doing our best to support them as they plan for the future and look for other opportunities. We also extend our prayers for the full Church and its ministries as we all adapt to the future paths God has placed before us.”
Any constituents who have questions about GBHEM’s plans are encouraged to use the question portal on GBHEM.org.
About GBHEM: The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry embraces the ministry of learning and leadership formation in The United Methodist Church and Wesleyan tradition; serving Christians around the world who are shaped by a process of intellectual engagement, spiritual and character formation, and leadership development. We cultivate a dynamic culture of call and vocational discernment that encourages lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in God’s ministry and mission for the Church, the academy and the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.