District Superintendents share hopes, prayers for new districts

3/16/2014

Rev. Henry Bass, Dr. Buddy Cooper, Dr. Nita Crump, Dr. Rick Lanford, Dr. Wayne Moseley and Rev. Chris Ramsey have been appointed by Bishop King as District Superintendents for the 2014-2015 conference year. We asked them their hopes, prayers and expectations as the Conference transitions from nine districts to six.

Rev. Henry Bass – South Central District

ADVOCATE: What are your hopes and prayers for the new South Central District?

REV. BASS: My hope for the new South Central District is that we build up the kingdom of God by growing healthy churches that reach out to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

My prayer is that we will be sincere and intentional in making disciples of Jesus Christ and that we practice that in a way that makes us better stewards of what we are trying to do together. We can do it if we do it together.

ADVOCATE: Having previously served on a district, how do you see your role as a District Superintendent continuing/shifting/changing as the Conference moves forward into a new structure?

REV. BASS: The role of the District Superintendent will be shifting. My focus will be on building relationships with clergy and laity to develop a team concept within the district. As we work with clusters in the new district model I will be more active and intentional about bringing leadership around the table to do our part in the connection. This new team will be dependent on each other and will work together to find solutions as we live into a new reality. I look forward to serving the South Central District and building new relationships and cultivating existing ones.

Dr. Buddy Cooper – Northwest District

ADVOCATE: What are your hopes and prayers for the new Northwest District?

DR. COOPER: I want our ministers and churches to address the reasons we had to reduce the number of districts from nine to six. I hope we will regain our sense of urgency when considering the least, the last, and the lost. We are supposed to be the difference in the lives of those who need us to care. I hope the leadership from each new district will step up and enable us to be effective quickly after conference. We will be following Bishop King's dictum: go slow to go fast.

I pray that we see, for the first time in my 40 years of service, our United Methodist Church begin to grow again in the United States. We have focused long enough on making peace within our denomination. It is time to shift our focus to making peace with our God, as revealed by our Lord Jesus Christ.

ADVOCATE: Having previously served on a district, how do you see your role as a District Superintendent continuing/shifting/changing as the Conference moves forward into a new structure?

DR. COOPER: I see the role of the DS as the spark plug that keeps the vision front and center and encourages each minister to bring their best to the ministry to which we are all called. The clustering of the districts will help me make the best use of my limited time. It will have to be more of a team effort than it was with smaller districts.

The privilege to serve should never be confused with being special. Our God has been carving rotten wood and riding lame horses since he called Abraham. All He has to choose from are human beings. What then? We shall not fail, if we will only trust Him. The best is always yet to be. I am looking forward to this coming year.

Dr. Nita Crump – Southwest District

ADVOCATE: What were your first thoughts when Bishop King asked you to join his cabinet?

DR. CRUMP: When the Bishop called to ask me to join the Cabinet, my first thought was to question my abilities to serve in such a capacity. My second thought was of John 15:5: “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” Apart from Christ, no one can adequately serve in any form of ministry. With the help of Christ, I will serve the pastors and churches of the Southwest District as we work to make disciples and grow the kingdom.

ADVOCATE: Having served on the transition team and now playing a key role as a member of the cabinet, how do you envision your role as a District Superintendent under this new structure?

DR. CRUMP: The most obvious impact to the work of a District Superintendent in our new configuration will be the increased number of churches and pastors in each district. The Bishop and Transition Team are working to develop a model that will use a combination of personal interaction and modern technology to encourage and strengthen our connection as Methodists across South Georgia.

All six District Superintendents will find ourselves in a new expression of our connection as we live into the six-district model. While the working model will be different, the role of the District Superintendent will remain much the same. We are called to represent the Bishop in the districts, to serve as the pastor to the pastors, to support and encourage the works of ministry in the local churches, and to attend to various administrative tasks.

The coming months will be a challenge for all of us – superintendents, pastors and churches alike. With God’s guidance and a renewed commitment to serve Christ and the world through our connectional system, we can all rise to the challenge. It’s an exciting time, filled with possibilities. I look forward to working with all the pastors and laity as we seek God’s will and do his work in the new Southwest District.

ADVOCATE: What are your hopes and prayers for the Southwest District?

DR. CRUMP: My prayers for the Southwest District are numerous. I pray for God’s guidance as we move into the six-district model. I pray for patience and gracious spirits on the part of all those in the district as, together, we learn what it means to be the Southwest District. But most of all I pray for opportunities – opportunities to use this new model in new ways as we share the old, old story of the good news of Jesus Christ with those who need to hear it.

Dr. Rick Lanford – North Central District

ADVOCATE: What were your first thoughts when Bishop King asked you to join his cabinet?

DR. LANFORD: I love canoeing. Sometimes while traveling a new river, I notice a fork ahead. Initially, I am caught off guard, surprised, and a little anxious. But, it is nice when someone who knows the river is with you. They may say, “Take the branch. It leads to the same destination. There are just a few more twists and turns that require some different skills. But the scenery is awesome.” For more than 20 years I have been on a remarkable journey. Naturally, I will grieve leaving a ministry in which I have observed men, women, clergy and laity living out their faith through generosity. This ministry will continue under new leadership, and I will pray for them. The Methodist Home will forever possess a special place in my heart. I am at a loss for words to describe what the last 20 years have meant to my family and me. However, the Bishop has asked me to travel a different route. The destination of both journeys is the same. Both make the Kingdom of God tangible “on earth as it is in heaven,” and along with the many other ministries of the Conference, they glorify Christ. My new role in the cabinet will allow me to witness new facets of ministry, and some different twists and turns to be navigated. I am sincerely humbled that Bishop King would ask me serve on the cabinet. I feel a beautiful sense of privilege and overwhelming challenge.

ADVOCATE: Having served on the transition team and now playing a key role as a member of the cabinet, how do you envision your role as a District Superintendent under this new structure?

DR. LANFORD: Though the geographical area of the districts is enlarged, that does not mean our ability to engage in personal, face-to-face ministry is diminished. It does mean I must possess good time management skills.

I greatly admire those who served before me, and those with whom I will serve. A lot of prayer, study, and dialogue has gone into the work of developing the new structure, ensuring that together we can effectively evangelize and disciple. If there is one thing I’ve learned through the years, it is the fact that a job description for ministers is always open-ended. Living together in the body of Christ often introduces us to new avenues of ministry and exposes us to challenges we may have never anticipated. Therefore, much of what is required of me has yet to be discovered. However, God is always present and equips us with the gifts and graces necessary for ministry. I cannot express how eager I am to witness what God is doing and going to do in our conference.

ADVOCATE: What are your hopes and prayers for the North Central District?

DR. LANFORD: I have cherished as gifts the churches and positions in which I served. My tenure in the conference is now long enough to earnestly say our conference is comprised of remarkable laity and clergy. While working for the Foundation, I learned that a godly heart often gives more than asked, and attempts more than we thought possible. I want our churches to awaken to the awesome potential they have in Christ.

I want them to become salt and light for one another and the world. One of my favorite texts is John 13. John records that Jesus “knew he came from God, that the father had given all things into his hands, and he was going to God.” I pray our district knows that their D.S. knows “from where he came.” I know, as Paul expressed, by the grace of God I am what I am. I want them to have confidence that I realize God has placed me in this position at this moment in time. Consequently, they will know that I accept this ministry as another gift, at a pivotal time in our life together as the church.

Finally, I pray together we develop a clear vision of “going to God.” God is calling us into a future that we cannot yet imagine. Yet, it is a future that is reachable, inspiring, and transforming. It is a future that redeems the world, breaks down walls, and reconciles us to God and one another. For this end, I will give all that I am, pray with all my heart, and devote every gift and grace with which God has endowed me.

Dr. Wayne Moseley – Coastal District

ADVOCATE: What are your hopes and prayers for the new Coastal District?

DR. MOSELEY: I pray that every congregation in the Coastal District will discover ways to reach the persons in their community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that some are already doing this, but I pray that the passion for the lost and the "least of these" will become a burning passion of every congregation. Secondly, I pray that we will become a fully connectional district with every congregation sharing in the mission and ministry of the larger church with a sense of gratitude and pride in sharing in a ministry that is greater because every congregation is doing their part by sharing in this great connection called The United Methodist Church.

ADVOCATE: Having previously served on a district, how do you see your role as a District Superintendent continuing/shifting/changing as the conference moves forward into a new structure?

DR. MOSELEY: The role of District Superintendent will become even more challenging as we find ways to serve 40 percent more churches and pastors. However, we serve a big God with whom all things are possible. I believe we will meet the challenges ahead of us in such a way that God will be glorified and the Kingdom of God will be strengthened. We will need greater participation by both clergy and laity to reach these goals. We will also need to look at new ways to accomplish the tasks before us. Change must no longer be seen as an enemy but as a companion in this process.

Rev. Chris Ramsey – Northeast District

ADVOCATE: What are your hopes and prayers for the new Northeast District?

REV. RAMSEY: My hopes and prayers for the Northeast District are that, along with the other five new districts of the South Georgia Annual Conference, we continue our trend of becoming more effective at growing a Christ-like world. In this way, the South Georgia Annual Conference will continue to be a sacred presence in our communities, our state, our nation, and our world, as we live into our mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ.

ADVOCATE: Having previously served on a district, how do you see your role as a District Superintendent continuing/shifting/changing as the conference moves forward into a new structure?

REV. RAMSEY: The District Superintendent’s role has been on course to move beyond that of supervision and administration to also include the role of missional strategist. While keeping our vision “To Grow a Christ-like World” in focus, District Superintendents are called upon to coach the pastors of their districts while assisting to equip the people and committees who make up the framework of the churches of the South Georgia Annual Conference to do ministry. Being called first as pastors, District Superintendents are to display Christ-like love as we endeavor to remain accountable to Christ and encourage others also called by God to remain mutually accountable in love. In this way, realistic and obtainable goals can be set and accomplished to advance the mission set before the body of Christ to make disciples of all nations.