Jana Purkis-Brash and Juel Nelson have been appointed to key staff positions in Greater New Jersey starting July 1.
Purkis-Brash will take the leadership position at the United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Greater New Jersey
After a nationwide search to fill the Executive Director position, Purkis-Brash, a GNJ pastor and leader , emerged as the candidate best suited for a job which takes the first step toward reimagining what the organization can be.
Existing to serve the financial and investment needs of GNJ, its local churches and agencies, the Foundation seeks to invest, grow, manage and utilize funds to multiply the future ministry of GNJ for disciple making and world transformation. Working with churches to develop endowments, manage reserve funds and encourage planned giving, the Foundation’s investment policy follows the socially responsible investing practices of the United Methodist Church and is handled by Wespath Investment Management. In the last three years, the Foundation has grown exponentially, exceeding $36 million in assets thanks to the many churches who have invested through it.
“Jana has served GNJ since 1982 and will draw on her personal relationships with other clergy as well as knowledge of the conference to succeed,” said Sue Goodman, Interim Executive Director of The Foundation.
Purkis-Brash brings a wealth of pastoral experience and a passion for outreach and mission. The position will spearhead a new department that oversees four people and helps GNJ become more regenerative in terms of funding mission particularly as our churches engage in developing Hope Centers and other community mission initiatives.
Purkis-Brash has served in ministry at Princeton UMC since 2008 and initiated the Cornerstone Community Kitchen (CCK) and Feed Truck Café. She currently serves as Circuit Elder on the Capital District, as a candidacy and clergy mentor, and on the Board of Directors for CCK, The Feed Truck, and United Methodist Communities.
“I’m very excited about this position,” said Purkis-Brash. “I look forward to meeting with congregations and pastors to offer them the opportunity to join the Stewardship Foundation and be a part of the new thing that God is doing in GNJ as we partner together to birth new ministries.”
Ed Bowen, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, said in announcement to the Foundation Board, “It’s really a pleasure to have Jana onboard. She’s led congregations, managed stewardship campaigns and has been in many leadership positions that have involved raising funds for capital campaigns. She has dedicated her life in the witness and ministry of Christ since the early age of 13. Her strong leadership, organizational and interpersonal skills equip her to lead the Foundation into the next phase of growth.”
Bishop Schol expressed his support for Purkis-Brash saying, “Jana’s pastoral and executive leadership experience will be sure to serve the Stewardship Foundation and GNJ well.”
Married to Donald Brash, a professor at Palmer Theological School, the couple have one daughter, Leah, and two grandchildren. Brash enjoys days at the Jersey Shore, cooking, walking along the D&R canal trail, and adventures with her grandchildren.
Additionally, a Stewardship Director is sought to work in consultation with Connectional Ministries Team to help pastors and lay leadership grow financial resources and increase transformational leaders, disciple making, congregational vitality and community development. The director will act as a liaison between the Stewardship Foundation and Connectional Ministries Team, leading and inspiring the biblical and theological understanding of giving. To find out more about this position, visit www.gnjumc.org
Nelson will take on the new position of Director of Leadership Development
Tasked with leading and inspiring biblical and theological understanding of leadership and increasing the skills and number of apostolic transformational leaders within GNJ, the Director of Leadership Development position has been discussed and contemplated by lay and clergy leaders for several years to meet growing needs.
“Juel is really going to enable us to focus on the types of pastoral leaders that will be needed for the future,” said Rev. Tom Korkuch, Board of Ordained Ministries Chair and Senior Pastor of Archer UMC in Allendale. He continued, “This position will allow us to focus on the importance of finding and developing pastoral leadership for the immediate future. I find Juel to be dependable, with a terrific work ethic. She’s thoughtful and capable of thinking outside the box.”
Nelson will work with the Boards of Laity and Ordained Ministry, Connectional Ministries Team, and Regional Teams to ensure GNJ is recruiting and equipping transformational, apostolic leaders to make disciples and grow vital congregations for world transformation.
“This position holds great opportunities for laity and clergy,” said Rosa Williams, GNJ’s Lay Leader and Board of Laity Chair. “I am excited for the future and to dip into the untapped gifts of laity for ministry at our local churches. I believe and dream of laity equipped to do ministry and partner with our clergy, which will bring new excitement and disciple making to our churches. We cannot develop transformational clergy leaders without developing transformational lay leadership equipped to do ministry. This position provides means to look at our systems and processes, especially that of laity education and development.”
Bishop Schol said that, “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.”
A passionate disciple who believes that recruitment and leadership development of clergy and laity is essential for the growth of vital congregations, Nelson is an apostolic leader who supports and encourages others to live into God’s greater vision. Nelson holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She has been blessed to serve Succasunna UMC, Franklin Lakes UMC and Dingmans Ferry UMC and is currently on the Executive Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry as the Candidacy Mentor Registrar.
“Leadership development was the heartbeat of Jesus’ ministry,” Nelson said. “From calling to equipping, empowering to sending, Jesus was focused on seeking and saving the lost, and recruiting and developing leaders who would do the same.”
Nelson expressed enthusiasm to work with clergy and laity to develop and grow apostolic leaders within GNJ.
“The world is summoning leaders of today to engage in a new way of thinking,” said Nelson, who believes the world is changing at a rapid pace in which learning a new skill is not enough. She continued, “At one time church leaders were taught to lead by following great preachers, implementing others’ successful programs, and caring primarily for the flock that attend on Sundays. Now we must collaborate with those within and beyond the church to brave new trails, experiment with new approaches, and be resilient in failure. This type of leadership development calls for innovation, new ways of thinking and learning. What will they be? Let’s find out together.”