December 9, 2016
Grace and peace to you during this season of Advent as we anticipate the birth of the Christ Child. This Sunday we light the pink candle on the Advent wreath; a candle that stands for joy. It is the shepherds’ candle because the shepherds received a message of great joy.
It is with great joy that I announce that the Rev. L. Fitzgerald "Gere" Reist, II has accepted our invitation to come among us to serve as our interim conference superintendent for leadership development effective January 1, 2017.
Rev. Reist is a recognized leader in our denomination. Since 2005, he has served The United Methodist Church as the Secretary of the General Conference, our quadrennial gathering that sets the missional direction for our world-wide denomination as well as how it will resource its ministry and be organized for its task of making disciples for the transformation of the world. As the Secretary of General Conference, Rev. Reist has given oversight to the work the General Conference does including the orientation and support of delegates from all over the world.
A graduate of United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, Gere was ordained an elder in
1978 in the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference, which is now the Susquehanna Annual Conference. He has served as a district superintendent, pastored 10 congregations, been a camp counselor, chaired the conference board of Church and Society, been a member of the district committee on ordained ministry, a member of the conference clergy misconduct response team, and a trainer in boundaries training. He has also been a representative to the Pennsylvania Council of Churches Committee on Social Justice.
Gere has a deep commitment to the work of social justice becoming the first executive director for a United Methodist Witness in Pennsylvania. In this position he helped create and implement a state-wide program of political education and advocacy as a cooperative effort among the then four United Methodist Conferences of Pennsylvania. During his six-year tenure at the agency, working closely with United Methodists and other ecumenical leaders, he helped guide a state-wide community transformation by gaining the passage of an increase in the state minimum wage, the children's health insurance program, limiting the expansion of gambling, and addressing other poverty and health related issues.
Gere brings a rich and diverse background to the work of leadership development. In addition to ministry, he has been a mental health therapist. He has a deep commitment to lay and clergy leadership development that finds its roots in the understanding that as church leaders we work in team and for the purpose of growing the church and being agents of God’s mercy and justice in the world. He is a trained Natural Church Development coach. During his time of service with the General Conference he has grown strong skills in cultural competency and brings to every task his deep knowledge of the entire United Methodist Church. His love of the history, doctrine and polity of our church is a gift he brings to every table he participates at.
Rev. Reist brings to us knowledge, skills, competency, and a love for The United Methodist Church that I have every confidence will bless us in the California-Nevada Conference in this time of transition. His enthusiasm and untiring commitment to the raising up of servant leaders in the name of Christ Jesus for service in the church and the world will strengthen our work.
Gere succeeds the Rev. Greg Bergquist who has been named associate general secretary for the Division of Ordained Ministry at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. He is married to Betty Westlake-Reist and they are the parents of an adult daughter, Rowan, and have two cats.
Let us welcome Gere and Betty with radical hospitality as they join us from Pennsylvania. And let us be in prayer for the Bergquist and the Reist families during this time of transition in their lives.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño