An Announcement from Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and the Cabinet of the Louisiana Conference
March 31, 2020
The Cabinet has continued to do its work. We are caring for the immediate response to the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Louisiana Annual Conference as well as remaining focused on the appointive process.
During this time, we have recognized the following opportunities and realities.
Changes in Structure
The Cabinet’s work has been informed by the work of the District Study Task Force. The Task Force was charged by the Conference Council on Finance and Administration to evaluate the current number of districts and in an effort to balance mission with stewardship, propose changes in the number of districts and superintendents based on missional need and conference budget realities. The Cabinet has worked with the underlying assumption that the recommendation would result in fewer districts, thus fewer superintendents. While the annual conference determines the number of districts, the Bishop determines the number of superintendents.
The task force has concluded its work and is recommending a reduction in the number of districts from six to four beginning January 1, 2021.
Therefore, in anticipation of this likely reduction, effective July 1, 2020, there will be four superintendents under appointment:
Dr. Wybra Price will serve the Monroe and Shreveport Districts
Dr. Tom Dolph will serve the Acadiana District
Rev. Karli Pidgeon will serve the Lake Charles District
Rev. Jan Curwick will serve the New Orleans and Baton Rouge Districts
These moves will align resources, both human and fiscal, in preparation for the anticipated reduction in the number of districts beginning in 2021, while also providing effective oversight and supervision of the current six district structure. More detail regarding the recommendations of the District Study Task Force will be forthcoming.
Rev. Ken Irby has been appointed to First United Methodist Church, Gonzalez, Rev. Gary Willis will serve First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches and Dr. Derrick Hills will serve Mangum and St. James United Methodist Churches (see below). These three persons have provided extensive and extraordinary leadership at a critical time in the life of the Conference and the United Methodist Church.
African American Presence in North Louisiana
Over the past several years, the Cabinet has explored ways to address the decline of our African American United Methodist presence in North Louisiana. While churches and clergy continue to do miraculous work with few resources in the northern part of the Conference, there is currently no full-time African American appointment north of Alexandria.
Effective July 1, Dr. Derrick Hills will be appointed as the pastor of Mangum United Methodist Church and St. James United Methodist Church. In addition to his pastoral appointment, he will be tasked, along with other pastors and congregations, with developing a comprehensive strategy for strengthening the black church in the Shreveport District. We are hopeful that this collaborative work will inspire a renewal of the African American United Methodist presence in Shreveport and extend to other parts of North Louisiana in the coming years.
Critical Need for Leadership
Leadership development of both clergy and laity has been an ongoing priority of the Conference and the Cabinet. The responsibility for this work has been assigned to multiple areas and individuals over the past quadrennium, and we believe it is now time to sharpen our focus on this vital component of our life and work. With recent realignments in staff and upcoming retirements, we believe that now is the time to prioritize and align this work, again balancing mission with stewardship.
To this end, effective July 1, 2020, Rev. Katie McKay Simpson will be appointed to the Conference staff as Director of Clergy Excellence and Leadership Development. Her work will focus on Clergy Excellence, Ministerial Services (Board of Ordained Ministry), and Lay and Clergy Leadership Development.
We are excited about the possibilities before us during these challenging and remarkable times. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, let us renew our commitment to share the Gospel and redouble our efforts to transform lives in our communities and across the world.