Paul Dirdak leaves United Methodist Committee on Relief

February 02, 2007

California-Nevada Conference clergy, the Rev. Paul Dirdak has left his position as chief executive of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

Paul Dirdak

His departure, effective Jan. 31, was announced by the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the Board of Global Ministries, UMCOR's parent agency. Dirdak, who has led UMCOR since 1998, also had overseen Mission Volunteers and Health and Welfare Ministries for the board during his tenure there.

Dirdak resigned to pursue new professional opportunities, according to a statement from the Board of Global Ministries. He said he was pleased "to have been a part of the expansion of UMCOR's capacity."

The Rev. Sam Dixon, a staff executive who currently oversees the board's evangelization and church growth unit, will assume Dirdak's duties on an interim basis, according to Day. Dixon previously led UMCOR's nongovernmental organization unit.

Day told United Methodist News Service that he will work closely with Dixon to enhance and expand partnerships with the denomination's annual conferences and agencies.

"In my heart, I want our denomination to move spiritually and substantially to an ever-deeper level of caring for and advocating for the poorest of the poor, especially the children, as an expression of the Gospel," he said.

A search committee to seek Dirdak's successor is expected to be named when directors of the Board of Global Ministries meet in April.

Before joining the staff of UMCOR, Dirdak was a director of the Board of Global Ministries from 1988 to 1996 and was president of the board's National Division from 1992 to 1996. He also served as chairman of the Interagency Task Force on AIDS, created by the United Methodist General Conference, from 1988 to 1996, and was a director of the General Council on Ministries, which was phased out of existence in 2004.

During his tenure at UMCOR, the budget increased from about $30 million to $100 million as the agency not only followed a mandate to provide humanitarian relief and rehabilitation, but also became internationally known for work in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Haiti and Africa.

In the past few years, UMCOR has helped direct tens of millions of dollars from United Methodists - as well as grants from outside agencies - into comprehensive disaster relief programs for those affected by the South Asia tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Based on its track record and relationship with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, UMCOR was asked to manage Katrina Aid Today, a coalition of organizations assisting hurricane victims through a $66 million grant. Dirdak also credited UMCOR's experience overseeing a large, church-funded case management program assisting families and individuals affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.