Kristina Gonzalez to serve as GNW Executive Director for Innovation and Vitality

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky has named Kristina Gonzalez Executive Director for Innovation and Vitality for the Greater Northwest Area. Gonzalez will continue to work with Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber, Director of Innovation for an engaged church. The Innovation Vitality (IV) Team supports local churches, innovation projects and boards and agencies to continue to embrace inclusion, innovation and multiplication as practices of Christian discipleship that are core to vital ministry in the region.

Gonzalez will step into this leadership role following Dr. William Gibson’s resignation as the IV Team Lead, effective March 31.

In making the announcement of Gonzalez’s new role, Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky affirmed that “Greater Northwest Area leadership remains committed to supporting new ways of being church, especially as IV projects help us learn where God is calling us today.”

“The United Methodist Church is struggling. We are declining, divided and constrained by white cultural norms,” Stanovsky acknowledged. “But Jesus continues to deliver good news and invites us into abundant life every day. Many of us struggle to keep pace with what God is up to. Kristina develops systems that foster disciples who look beyond decline to lead a new and bright future. We are blessed that she is willing to step into this role at this time.”

Gonzalez will be responsible for hiring and supervising the IV team staff and consultants, in collaboration with conference directors of connectional ministries, and providing strong support systems for innovation vitality projects and their leaders. She will also continue to ensure that intercultural competency leadership is at the heart of our efforts for this transformative work.

 “The Innovation Vitality Team helped to position intercultural competency as central to vitality in our new and existing ministries. Our abilities to interact across cultural differences – race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identities, physical and mental abilities and more – will define us into the future. As Rev. Dr. Barber says, ‘innovation happens at the intersection of difference,’” Gonzalez said.

In her role serving three conferences, Gonzalez will report to the bishop of the Greater Northwest Area. As executive director, Gonzalez will lead during a transition period. The Vitality Commission formed by the 2021 Annual Conferences is reviewing the structure and operations of the IV Team to recommend changes to strengthen this work. The Commission will make a progress report to this year’s annual conference sessions in June and will bring recommendations to improve and streamline vitality work in 2023. 

Gonzalez is a trusted leader and expert in intercultural competency with deep connections to United Methodism in the northwest and beyond. First hired as a Pacific Northwest Conference staff member by Bishop Elias Galvan in 1998, she joined the IV Team in 2018, bringing her gifts to the Greater Northwest Area.

“I’ve had the privilege of serving the Pacific Northwest Conference and the GNW Area of our United Methodist Church for more than 20 years. Despite title changes, restructuring and varied visions, my work has been about embedding intercultural competency at all levels of our complex church structure, from local church to the denominational Connectional Table,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez is a qualified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and an associate with the Kaleidoscope Institute for diverse sustainable communities. She has served as faculty of the annual school for United Methodist supervising clergy for 19 years and consults and trains ecumenically in intercultural competency.

Gonzalez has professional experience in the public and non-profit sectors working in the arts and human services. Her community service work includes eight years on the curriculum committee of Leadership Tomorrow, a community leadership program serving the greater Seattle area, and a term on the board of trustees.

She served on The United Methodist Church’s Connectional Table, from 2004-to 2008 and chaired the Washington Association of Churches (now Faith Action Network) for two terms. She served on the board of directors for Bayview Retirement Center in Seattle for two terms.

“My new position title, Executive Director for Innovation and Vitality is simply an extension of my hopes and dreams over time,” Gonzalez said. “Those hopes and dreams; that we in the GNW Area of The UMC embed in our culture the practices of inclusion, innovation and multiplication, as a means of refreshing and renewing our relationships with Jesus Christ through our Wesleyan heritage in ways that are relevant and resonant today.” 

Three practices for vital ministry

1. Inclusion – if WE – our ministries, leaders and members become more interculturally competent then we will learn to welcome, include, and partner with our diverse neighbors.

2. Innovation – if “WE” expands to include the variety of people in our neighborhoods, then WE will reach out with openness to join what God is already doing in sparks of innovation that come at the intersection of difference.

3. Multiplication – if our ministries make a difference in the lives of people and their communities, then we will follow Jesus to engage with more new people, and their needs, multiplying the people we partner with and serve.   

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