Evolving ministries across the GNW call for leadership changes in OR-ID Conference

As churches and ministry settings across the Oregon-Idaho Conference seek to serve their communities in new and vital ways, changes in leadership are necessary to support this work.

Aligning resources – including existing personnel – with shifts in missional strategy, particularly in the areas of ministries that matter and lay ministry enhancement, is one of the first steps. Because of this call to be more engaged at the local level, the Oregon-Idaho Conference is re-aligning its leadership to meet the changing needs of more than 150 congregations and local ministry settings.

“God is calling us into a new time and phase in the life of the church, where we must reach beyond what has been our traditional conference leadership model to explore ways in which we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world,” said Bishop Cedrick D. Bridgeforth. “In other words, we are living out our call to be more like the Good Samaritan and ‘Go and Do Likewise’ by organizing ourselves to evolve as disciples of Christ in our world today.”

Bishop Cedrick Bridgeforth intends to make the following appointments, all effective July 1, 2024:

As previously announced, Rev. John Tucker, current Crater Lake District Superintendent, will be appointed to serve Langley UMC in Washington in the PNW Conference. 
Rev. Tim Overton-Harris, current Columbia District Superintendent, will serve as special assistant to the bishop for transition in the Oregon-Idaho Conference.
Rev. Karen Hernandez will serve as Columbia District Superintendent, while continuing to serve as Sage District Superintendent.
Rev. Wendy Woodworth will serve as Crater Lake District Superintendent, while continuing to serve as Cascadia District Superintendent. 
Rev. Brett Pinder will serve full-time as the Conference’s community engagement and collaboration strategist. Pinder currently serves half-time as a missional strategist for housing ministries for the Greater Northwest Area.
Rev. Dylan Hyun will serve half-time as the Conference’s change maker and empowerment strategist. Hyun will also receive an additional half-time appointment to another ministry setting. Hyun is currently appointed to Oak Grove UMC in Portland.

Bridgeforth has indicated these staffing changes will allow the conference to direct financial resources toward programming that benefits local ministry settings. With two less district superintendents resourcing local churches, Bridgeforth said he’ll be working with the cabinet to realign the role and scope of work for the remaining superintendents so that they can continue to serve local ministry contexts adequately. 

Laurie Day, director of connectional ministries for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, said these staffing changes align with missional priorities as part of the GNW Area’s collective effort to go the M.I.L.E.

“We’re so grateful for the many years of leadership and pastoral presence John and Tim have provided as district superintendents for our Conference. We need changes in our leadership structure at a time like this,” Day said. “This staffing change is about aligning our organizational resources with our ministry priorities.”

In his new position, Overton-Harris will have a variety of responsibilities, which involve building networks and relationships with individuals who are crucial to making the structural changes needed to move forward while continuing to support the supervisory work of local ministries. His role will be instrumental in supporting the move from four district superintendents and centering the needs of local ministries and intentional collaborations.

In his role as community engagement and collaboration strategist, Pinder will work with local ministries as they discern their plans for transformative ministry and outreach initiatives – Ministries that Matter. The strategist’s role focuses on providing strategic direction, resources and coaching to congregations and other ministry settings as they explore their mission and vision.

As a change maker and empowerment strategist for local ministries, Hyun will coach local ministry leaders – laity and clergy – as they increase their capacity for change-making ministry. His work will include resource development for local ministries and organizing regular learning sessions and virtual round tables. 

Day said these two staff positions and a new project manager position will be critical to resourcing local ministry settings as they go the M.I.L.E. At the same time, the Conference is working with laity on how to best support new opportunities for lay ministry enhancement.

“Our local ministries do amazing work not only inside of the church, but outside of their doors. We know they want to do more but they need support,” she said. “Our goal through these staff changes at the Conference level is to partner with our local ministry settings to increase their capacity for positive change.”

Though these positions directly serve the Oregon-Idaho Conference, they are being announced across the Greater Northwest Area. They speak to how ministry transitions are being made in the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho, and Pacific Northwest Conferences, Bridgeforth said, as the area keeps moving forward with its goal of aligning resources – staff, volunteers, property and more – to the work the church needs to be doing in the world.

“We need to be the nimble, future-thinking, justice-minded, inclusion-seeking disciples God has called into this work at all times for all people,” Bridgeforth said. “This is the work God is calling us to do in this season of the church, and we’re excited by the possibilities of it all.”

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Kristen Caldwell
A mom, a writer, a wannabe runner, Kristen Caldwell calls Vancouver, Wash., home and loves getting to tell stories of the people and places that make up the Greater Northwest Area.

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