Message from Bishop Schol – Appointments 2.19.17

February 19, 2017 | Messages from the Bishop

I believe God’s love heals and transforms lives and communities. God is encountered 
in passionate Christ-like disciples who stir up faith, hope and justice in the community. 

Vital congregations form and shape passionate disciples.
We appoint clergy to lead vital congregations to make 
passionate disciples who stir up faith, hope and justice in the community.


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I am grateful for each of you during this appointment season. Your prayers have centered the cabinet and we continue to feel the Holy Spirit’s presence as we make appointments. The cabinet and I are also grateful for the clergy and laity who have been clear and thoughtful about their hopes in new appointments. We believe God works through all of us and working together makes better appointments.

Today I want to share that two staff positions have been filled: the Executive Director of the United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Greater New Jersey and the Director of Leadership Development. Both positions were filled after rigorous interviews that included as many as three rounds of interviews with candidates.

Jana Purkis-Brash will be the new Executive Director of the Stewardship Foundation starting July 1. Jana has led congregations, managed stewardship campaigns and raised significant funds through capital campaigns. Her pastoral and executive leadership experience will serve the Stewardship Foundation and GNJ well. In the last three years the Stewardship Foundation has grown from $4 million to $36 million thanks to many churches who have been investing through us. The Stewardship Foundation uses Westpath as it investor. Jana will oversee a staff of four people.

Juel Nelson will be the new Director of Leadership Development starting July 1. This position will work with laity and clergy to develop and grow apostolic leaders. Juel herself is an apostolic leader growing the worship, new disciples, ministry and finances of each church she has led. She brings an innovative spirit and a belief in people’s desire and ability to grow their leadership.

Additional new appointments and open churches may be viewed by clicking here. The Stewardship Director position may viewed by clicking here.

I also want to take this opportunity to talk about how to share your hopes and concerns with the cabinet. We use your completed clergy and church profiles and the emails sent by a clergy person or the chairperson of the SPRC to your superintendent about your appointment hopes. Both of these are essential to the cabinet’s discernment process. Also information you share directly with your superintendent is helpful. 

We are hearing some clergy and laity want to share information with a superintendent other than their own superintendent. This practice creates triangulation in which two people have information and the one that should have the information does not have the appropriate information. As a cabinet, we have a covenant that we do not speak with clergy or laity about appointment requests or concerns unless they are with the supervising superintendent. We also covenant not to speak with laity unless they are the chairperson of the SPRC.

Sometimes clergy and laity feel more comfortable talking with another superintendent because they are of the same gender or race or just because they know that superintendent better. All of our superintendents want to have open and transparent conversations with clergy and chairpersons of the SPRC about appointments. If you would like another superintendent to be present, you may share this with your superintendent who will be happy to have another superintendent present. We will not allow triangulation by a clergy person or by a superintendent or by a lay person. You know how frustrating and damaging triangulation is when it happens to you in the local church. The more we all serve and lead in healthy ways the more health we see in the church.

Thank you for serving in GNJ. We continue to make good progress and your leadership has been key to the progress we are making. Thank you.

Keep the faith!


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