Conference Superintendent for Congregational Vitality Is Hired

December 01, 2011

Following a nationwide search, Bener Agtarap has been named the new Conference Superintendent for Congregational Vitality for the California-Nevada Annual Conference.


Agtarap will join the staff July 1, 2012. Originally from Manila, Philippines, he is an ordained elder in the Wisconsin Annual Conference and since 2009 has served as a new church strategist for Path 1 and New Church Starts Division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD).


"We are excited for what the future holds as Bener brings his gifts and experience to the work of congregational revitalization and new church starts in California-Nevada," said Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. in making the announcement. "From a field of excellent candidates, Bener emerged as the one best qualified to lead us forward. He has extensive experience in leading local congregation revitalization, as well as in new church development  and has a strong background in both leadership development and stewardship development. Besides his work at the general agency level, Bener has 'practiced what he preached,' starting a new church at age 22 as a layperson. As a local pastor and then a district superintendent in the Philippines, he began and supported five new church starts and led the creation of a new district with 38 churches and 18 new mission extensions.


"We are grateful that Bener will be joining our team as we move forward into a future of transformative discipleship here in California-Nevada," the bishop said.


Agtarap is married to Clarita Reinante Agtarap. They live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and have three children – Kiyah, a junior in high school; Katriel, a freshman in college; and Sola, a college senior.


The Superintendent for Congregational Vitality position was created to "build relationships, processes, and strategies to enable the Conference to meet its 2020 goals" for congregational vitality and creation of new faith communities. They are:

  • All congregations have a clear, simple vision and strategy for making disciples in their unique context, who reach their mission fields;
  • Conference culture encourages innovative ways of multiplying disciple-making movements to create new places for new people;
  • One-third of congregations start something new that reaches new people, through context-driven models of new faith communities and/or new expressions of ministry;
  • There is a new multicultural congregation that consistently engages at least 1,000 active participants each week;
  • There are at least five existing congregations with no fewer than 1,000 active participants each week; and
  • There are at least 20 faith communities with no fewer than 500 active participants each week.

The superintendent is charged with creating and implementing systems and creating capacities for existing church redevelopment and new church starts; finding the best leaders for new faith communities or partner congregations, and identifying new ministry opportunities (in consultation with the bishop, district superintendents, Board of Congregational Development, Board of Ordained Ministry, and circuit leaders); equipping leaders and congregations for effectiveness; building a network of clergy and lay with special gifts (to aid in the development of faith communities to meet goals); and developing financial resources.


The position was advertised nationally, through both United Methodist channels and outside networks. Thirty-three applications were received and six persons – diverse in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity, and representing nearly all United Methodist jurisdictions – were interviewed before the search team made its decision.


Conference Superintendent for Mission Collaboration Linda Caldwell, a member of the search team, says a major factor in attracting so many excellent candidates for the position was the fact that the Conference has a good Strategic Plan, with Conference leadership solidly behind it. She adds that candidates asked a number of significant questions, to which the team was able to respond readily, having laid the groundwork of developing the Strategic Plan.


Agtarap currently is the Conference's consultant with Path 1 and will continue in that role until the existing covenant expires in June. After he joins the Cal-Nevada staff, a determination will be made as to what form the Conference's future partnership with Path 1 will take. (In photo above, Agtarap is shown chairing a May 2011 Path 1 meeting at the UM Center in West Sacramento.)