Leadership Transition at Office of Missional Engagement and Outreach to Begin in August

May 20, 2021
Rev. Elaine Burleigh is announcing her retirement from full-time ministry and will be stepping down as Director of the Office of Missional Engagement and Outreach. Her retirement is effective July 1, 2021. She will continue to lead the Disaster Recovery ministry through the end of August.

When Rev. Elaine Burleigh began her leadership as the director of missional engagement and mission, no one could have predicted what would come next - a global pandemic that would fundamentally alter ministry, five hurricanes in one year, a crippling winter ice storm, and severe flash flooding in May. 

"Rev. Elaine Burleigh arrived at the perfect time to lead our disaster response," said Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. "Her dedication, strategic mindset, and relationships helped us manage an already difficult situation. Rev. Burleigh took an almost impossible situation - the numerous times we were in the cone of uncertainty, multiple storms making landfall, COVID restrictions, restricted travel - and created a strategic, methodical, and careful way forward."

The bishop has been in conversation with Rev. Burleigh for several weeks regarding her pending retirement. "It is unfortunate that the timing of this announcement comes at the same time as another storm event," says Bishop Harvey. "I am incredibly thankful that she had previously agreed to serve until August."

Bishop Harvey and Rev. Dr. Van Stinson are working to ensure the continuity of the Conference disaster response and recovery ministry.  Early in their conversations, Burleigh agreed to remain in her current position through the end of August to assist with a smooth transition. 

Since the hurricanes struck Louisiana in 2020, the Conference has established critical partnerships with other disaster recovery agencies in Louisiana, hired and trained eight disaster recovery team members, received over $712,000 of grants from UMCOR, worked in partnership with UMCOR, launched case management in Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana and have started recruiting VIM teams from around the denomination for long-term recovery efforts.

It's a lot of work. And Burleigh knows it takes tremendous focus and commitment. 

"The work of Disaster Recovery in Louisiana following the three major hurricanes of 2020 is a massive undertaking," says Burleigh. "It requires the leadership of someone who can focus completely on the work of recovery. It has become clear over the past several months that personal and family obligations will hinder my ability to give the attention and focus that this ministry deserves.  For the sake of the ministry and my family, I have made the very difficult decision to retire."  

"I am thankful for Rev. Burleigh, her faithfulness, her commitment was a welcome relief in a time of chaos," says Bishop Harvey. "Our prayers go with her and she focuses on her health and the needs of her family."

If you would like to learn more about all of the ways the Louisiana Conference is continuing to help those in need after the 2020 hurricanes, please head here

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