GBHEM Elects New General Secretary, Approves MEF Formula

March 23, 2011

By Vicki Brown*

Election of a new general secretary and minor changes to a new formula for allocating church dollars to the 13 United Methodist theological schools were approved by the Board of Directors of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry during their spring meeting in Nashville, March 17-19.
 
The board members and staff also worshipped together, worked on legislation for General Conference 2012, and held a retirement dinner for the former general secretary.
 
The board unanimously elected the Rev. Kim Cape, former executive director of New Church Growth and Transformation for the Southwest Texas Annual Conference, to lead GBHEM as its new general secretary. Her first day in the office will be April 4.
 
Cape said GBHEM's job as the leadership agency is to "help folks see where God is leading."
 
"Leadership means influencing our community to face its problems. My prayer for the board is that we name and face our problems and model for the Church the leadership to live into God's future," Cape said.
 
More money
 
United Methodist schools of theology that educate more students for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church will get more money from the church in 2012 under a new formula for distributing money from the Ministerial Education Fund, one of the seven apportioned funds of the UMC.
 
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry had approved the changes last fall, but tweaked the formula to include money for the purpose of providing full-time UM faculty and senior administrators at the seminaries. That change came in response to concerns from some of the schools of theology.
 
The Rev. Sharon Rubey, interim associate general secretary of GBHEM's Division of Ordained Ministry, said the changes approved last fall mean that 65 percent of the MEF dollars distributed to the 13 UM seminaries will be divided, based on the number of United Methodist students who are enrolled in candidacy for ordained ministry and the number of graduates who are ordained after completing seminary. The new formula requires no further approval and will go into effect in 2012.
 
For most United Methodist seminaries, the Ministerial Education Fund disbursement accounts for 12 percent to 20 percent of their annual budget under the current formula. In 2010, $14.6 million was distributed to the 13 UM schools of theology. Twenty-five percent of the money collected for the fund stays with participating Annual Conferences to support continuing education for pastors and clergy recruitment and to provide financial aid for students in the Annual Conference.
 
'Counting sheep' at opening worship
 
During opening worship, Bishop Jonathan Keaton asked the board and staff to consider the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, in which Jesus tells of the joy in heaven over the one sinner who repents.
 
"Why go after one sheep when you've got 99?" Keaton asked. "We do so because we serve a God who projects and helps the least of these."
 
"The problem is, what if that one person is you? What if that is you under that mountain of debris from an earthquake? What if you were parents with children named Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, or Chris Brown? If they came home to you, would you not rejoice?" Keaton asked.
 
And before we criticize the Pharisees, Keaton added, we should remember that their attitudes might have been closer to the way the Church thinks today, than we imagine. "Sometimes we need to be rescued from our own self-righteousness," he said.
 
The worship altar featured a 32-inch Lego cross built by Jody and Joshua Lentz of Blakemore United Methodist Church in Nashville. The Blakemore United Methodist Men bought the Legos, which were donated to UMC childcare centers at Blakemore and the Bethlehem Center in Nashville after the board meeting.
 
Report from the Leadership Table
 
The Board also heard a report from Bishop Grant Hagiya about the work of the Leadership Table, who said the table has established three central priorities:
  • A young people's mission involvement program modeled after Teach for America. The goal is to place 1,000 young adults across the world in diverse internships – from local church placements to micro-financing in developing countries.
  • Gleaning the best practices from our Leadership/Discipling training centers and resource people around the connection in order to work toward a national training model that might benefit each Annual Conference and local church.
  • Working on the Call to Action objective of reforming clergy leadership by strengthening the recruitment, training, deployment, assessment, and accountability systems.
Bishop Gregory Palmer gave a brief report on the work of the Call to Action steering committee, reviewing recommendations that include making congregational vitality the Church's true first priority.
 
"We look forward to being in conversation with the whole Church," Palmer said. He told Board members to visit www.umcleadershipsummitt.org for updates.
 
Del Pino celebrated
 
Board members attended a retirement dinner for the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, former general secretary of GBHEM.
 
Bishop Gregory Palmer, who was president of GBHEM during part of Del Pino's tenure as general secretary, thanked Del Pino for his work on strengthening the financial sustainability of United Methodist higher educational institutions and for his work in forging closer ties with Methodist churches in South America.
 
Del Pino thanked the Board for "making it possible for me to have a wider angle of vision."
 
He quoted William Sloane Coffin Jr. on faith: "I love the recklessness of faith, first you leap and then you grow wings."
 
In other action, the Board of Directors:
  • Elected Gerald Lord as associate general secretary of GBHEM's Division of Higher Education.
  • Received a report from The Novak Group on the operational audit of GBHEM.
  • Affirmed James Darby as interim Course of Study Director at Saint Paul School of Theology.
  • Affirmed the Division of Higher Education's elections to the Board of Trustees of the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation. The new members are: James Albaugh, Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Molly K. Eastman, Elizabeth Hoffman, Willie Johnson, Nadine Miller, and Corbin Robertson.
*Brown is associate editor and writer, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.