A Message from Bishop Schol – Action Required

December 2, 2016 | Messages from the Bishop

Dear Sister and Brother Clergy Colleagues,

Greetings to you in this season of Advent!  There are three very important items that I need for you to read carefully, pray about and respond to.

Executive Director/Development for the Stewardship Foundation
GNJ continues to make progress growing vital congregations, engaging in transforming mission and developing a long term program for our health and vitality.  Part of our long-term plan is financial sustainability and growth without increasing the shared ministry budget. In fact, I have asked CFA to work on and present another reduced shared ministry budget to the 2017 Annual Conference Session.

As we continue to hold flat or reduce the shared ministry budget, the mission is not decreasing. In fact the need and the mission are expanding and we are identifying new ways to save money and raise money. We have budgeted two positions for stewardship and fundraising in our present shared ministry budget. This includes a stewardship staff person to work with congregations and a proposal writer to raise money for district, conference and church mission work.  The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Greater New Jersey has grown and has sufficient budget to hire a director and administrative assistant. Rather than seeing each of these as isolated positions, CFA and the Foundation have agreed to create a development team much like a small university to provide stewardship education/programs for local church budgets and to raise money through large gifts, bequests, foundations, corporations and other sources for our mission. The team will consist of an Executive Director/Development Director, a Director of Stewardship, a Proposal Writer and an Administrative Assistant to work together to raise funds for our ministry. I expect that in addition to raising money for congregations and the mission, they will raise the funds for their salaries within 5-7 years. This would allow us to pass the savings on to churches and invest in our future mission.

I need your help. You may have the right person in your congregation or know someone who would make an outstanding Executive Director/Development Director for the Foundation. The ideal person may have 10 or more years with a university development office or led development for a large nonprofit, or someone who is retiring early and can lead a development team. Please select reply and send me the name and email address of individuals you think we should follow up with. More information may be found on our website by clicking here.

Mandatory clergy meeting for pastors appointed to churches
I told you that meetings other than Annual Conference Session would not be mandatory. We invite you to come to grow, connect and learn. I am scheduling this one meeting that is open to all clergy but mandatory for clergy in or expecting to be appointed to a congregation, both part and full time. We will be taking attendance. It will be held on January 11, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. to noon at Calvary Korean United Methodist Church, 572 Ryders Ln., East Brunswick, NJ 08816.

The meeting is to talk about:

  • Present and future appointments based on current realities and the expectations for more part time appointments for elders
  • Complaints against clergy
  • The continual changing role of superintending

I recognize that this day will be difficult for part time clergy who work during the day. If part time clergy are unable to attend, we will set another meeting to accommodate those who work during the day. All other clergy serving under appointment to a congregation or desiring to be appointed to a congregation are expected to clear your calendar, including negotiating funerals to a different day. If you are going to be out of town, contact your superintendent right away.

This will not be something I will do regularly, only when we all need to have the same information at the same time and it is important enough that we need to gather to hear the information and receive your input.

New Superintendent
Rev. Varlyna Wright will be retiring June 30, 2017. Varlyna has completed her six year term and notified me that she will be retiring. I will miss Varlyna. We served together in Eastern Pennsylvania and I watched her serve in several appointments in particular in a very conflicted congregation helping them take appropriate steps for the future. In GNJ, she has served in several roles and again I have been blessed by serving with her on the cabinet. We pray for Varlyna during this time of transition.

As we select new superintendents, the cabinet has used names you have submitted to us. Reverends Gina Kim and Glenn Conaway were from names you put forward in January of this year. I would like to refresh this list by inviting you to submit names of persons you believe will make a good superintendent. Please select reply and send me two names.

Three things I ask you to do:

  1. Select reply and send me the names and email addresses for people you believe may serve well as an Executive Director/Development Director for the Foundation
  2. Put January 11, 9:00 a.m. in your calendar
  3. Select reply and send up to two names of people you believe would serve as an excellent superintendent for the Capital District

I pray for you and your ministry, particularly during this Advent Season. As I travel around Greater New Jersey and hear from clergy and laity I am keenly aware of the challenges you face. You are a gift to God and the church.  I thank God for you.

Keep the faith!

John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
of Greater New Jersey