Q & A with Dr. Nita Crump, Southwest District Superintendent
This is the first in a two-part series that will introduce the new District Superintendents.
Service grounded in truth
ADVOCATE: Where did you grow up? Have you always lived in South Georgia?
DR. CRUMP: I grew up in Elbert County, which is in northeast Georgia. I moved to Valdosta and lived there from 1984-1985 and then moved back to Valdosta in 1992. I’ve been in South Georgia since.
ADVOCATE: What’s your faith journey?
DR. CRUMP: I grew up in a small country church that was on a three-point charge. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know that God existed and that he loved me. I ran from him and his call to ministry for a number of years. After moving to the Valdosta area in 1992, I joined Lake Park United Methodist Church and found the courage and the encouragement to answer the call.
ADVOCATE: What was it like to receive the call from Bishop King asking you to be a District Superintendent?
DR. CRUMP: Way back at the beginning of my ministry I spent three years working as the administrative assistant in the Valdosta District office. As I was leaving the nursing home world and entering ministry, I worked 20 hours a week in the District office and then served a small church as a part-time pastor. So I’ve seen this role from the inside and I know from those three years just what a significant responsibility it is. It is a position of service and tremendous responsibility.
So when the Bishop called and talked to me about moving into this role, my first thought was, “am I equipped to do that?” Then my second thought was, “if I believe that God is in the appointment process then I have to believe that God is in this part of the appointment process, also. And if God believes that I can do this I have to trust him and rely on him to do the job.”
I took a little time to talk with my husband and pray about it, and then I called Bishop King back and said, “I’m at your disposal. If you think this is where God can use me best then this is where I’ll go.” And this is where I’ll go joyfully and I ask you and everybody else to pray for me.
ADVOCATE: Tell us about your ministry philosophy and your guiding principles.
DR. CRUMP: I believe in serving others through ministry. I think that, as we serve others, we need to stand firm on Christ as our foundation. Sometimes, in the act of serving others, we want to be so kind and so helpful that we shift our thoughts and positions because we are trying to be nice. So I think that ministry has to be twofold: it has to be service, because that’s how Jesus practiced ministry, but it also has to be very firmly based on Christ and his life and what he taught so that we’re sure of how we’re supposed to do this servant ministry and how we’re supposed to reach out to others.
ADVOCATE: What has your experience with the transition been like so far, and how do you see the role of the District Superintendent expanding or changing with the transition?
DR. CRUMP: I think that the role of the District Superintendent is staying the same. We represent the Bishop in the district, we are pastors to the pastors, and we represent the district, the congregations and the pastors back up to the Cabinet and the Bishop. None of that has changed. It’s the way – the method – by which we’re going to do this that has changed. We’re going to have to rely more on electronic communication and meetings via Skype to be able to do the work we need to do. For the next several months I will be going out to meet with people face to face so that I can know them personally. Once those relationships are established I think you’ll see us shifting more and more to doing things electronically as opposed to sitting across the table from one another.
So I really don’t see the role of the DS changing as much as I see the methods that we use to do the work changing.
ADVOCATE: What are your visions, goals and hopes for the district?
DR. CRUMP: I have a vision of a more connected church, a church that is composed of numerous congregations working together to reach out to the lost and hurting to share the news of Jesus.
ADVOCATE: What are the things that most excite you about the district and/or the South Georgia Conference?
DR. CRUMP: I am really excited about the new structure. I believe that the cluster system will call us back to our connectional heritage so that we’re truly united in our kingdom work. I’m excited about the people who live in the Southwest District. We had our District Conference earlier this week. Many people attended from all over the District. There was a spirit of joy in the room as the people came together for the historic occasion of forming the new district. The joyful, cooperative spirit of all those who attended is exciting. I believe it indicates that we are ready to move into the new season in our Conference.
ADVOCATE: What are some of the biggest challenges you see facing the Conference or district?
DR. CRUMP: Time and distance management. We’re going to have to try new ways to stay in touch, to hold meetings, etc. in order to do the work that needs to be done in a timely manner when we are so spread apart. We are going to have to be very intentional about staying connected. In order for us to stay connected and for the clusters to work and for the districts, as large as they are now, to work, we are going to have to be very intentional and purposeful and we cannot slack off on that. However we stay connected, whether it’s by electronic methods or face-to-face meetings or some combination of both, we’re going to have to be intentional.
ADVOCATE: What do you like best about serving in the South Georgia Conference?
DR. CRUMP: The people. I enjoy meeting and serving with the faithful people from all walks of life who live in South Georgia.
ADVOCATE: Tell us your thoughts about moving forward as a conference of six.
DR. CRUMP: I really hope that, as we move into the clusters, we will become much more connected. With the distance that’s between churches and pastors it’s so easy to feel like we’re in this alone. I think that we had, as a Conference, become somewhat disconnected. We were working as a number of churches working alone, and I think as we come back together into clusters that we will see that we are basically coming back to our Methodist connectional heritage. I think that will make us stronger. I think that if we work together to do Kingdom work we will be stronger in our ability to reach the lost and stronger in our service to the Church and to Christ.
So I really look to this with a lot of optimism. I think that if everyone will be prayerfully patient as we live into this, understanding that anything new has a period of learning … we are going to see people working together, we are going to see a very strong Church, and we are going to see a lot more people touched by the Church because of it.
ADVOCATE: How do you, in the midst of your busy schedule and traveling, make time for quiet time, prayer, and Bible study?
DR. CRUMP: I take time early in the morning, before the phone starts to ring and the day gets busy. This year I’m reading through the Bible using a chronological Bible. My husband and I use The Upper Room as our devotional book and read and discuss the day’s devotion, usually at breakfast. I also spend time in prayer while driving. That’s a good time to spend lifting up the names of pastors and churches and praying for each of them. I keep a prayer journal which helps me remember all the times and ways that God has answered my prayers.
ADVOCATE: Tell us about your family.
DR. CRUMP: I’m married to Jackson Posey. Jackson is from Mount Vernon and spends part of each week there so that he can continue to work three days a week for the city of Vidalia. Between us we have five children. Jackson has two adult children who both live in the Vidalia area, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. I have two sons. One is in college at Georgia Southern and one will be in college this fall. Jackson and I have one daughter. She lives in Roberta and works and goes to college in Macon. She is getting married this fall to a very nice young man. I get to perform the wedding. She told me I couldn’t cry during the wedding ceremony. Right.
ADVOCATE: What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies and interests?
DR. CRUMP: I enjoy reading almost anything. I especially enjoy Tom Clancy novels. When life is very, very busy and things are stressful, I read Clive Cussler books. In his books the good guys always win. I do needlepoint and crocheting. I enjoy Saturdays in the fall when I can watch University of Georgia football. (Goooooo dawgs!) And I love to travel with Jackson.
ADVOCATE: What’s one fact about you that most people don’t know?
DR. CRUMP: When I was in high school, I sold tombstones for a living (and I don’t mean the pizzas). I also have ancestors that came to America is 1620. My family has been here a long time!