Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
On February 24, 2020, I shared the news of my intention to appoint Rev. Beth Rambikur to become the pastor of Christ Church United Methodist in Tucson, AZ. Since that announcement was made, I have prayerfully been discerning how to best fill the vacancy in the office of the Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) created by this appointment change. After considerable thought, prayer, and consultation, I have decided not to appoint one person to the position and leave the position unfilled for this time.
The current proposal for the 2021 budget does include funding for the DCM position at a level equal to the funding in the current (2020) budget. However, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the position unfilled will offer temporary relief from the financial stress many of our churches are experiencing and the decrease in apportionment giving.
The challenge, of course, is to make sure the important work of the DCM continues in the interim. To this end, some important shifts are already taking place to accommodate the vacancy. I want to share some information about these shifts with the assurance that the crucial ministry of support, connection and development of our ministries will continue. We will accomplish this by creating an Interim Team of persons already on staff to cover the many responsibilities of the DCM.
The DCM provides essential support and connection for the various ministry committees, task groups, and teams of the Conference. This responsibility will now be assumed by the District Superintendents: Dan Morley, Susan Brims, Nancy Cushman, and Matt Ashley; the Conference Lay Leader: Laurie Lineberry; the Director of New and Vital Faith: Dave McPherson; and the Director of Outreach: Billie Fidlin. The many tasks of the DCM have been reviewed and have been divided among these persons and this shift places additional responsibilities on them.
Be assured that this change was discussed with these persons and all have willingly accepted the new responsibilities. With their willing support, I believe we will be able to continue the important work of connectional ministries until a new DCM can be discerned for appointment or hire.
The Conference Director of Outreach will continue providing support and guidance for the many arms of outreach for the Conference.
Persons who have been supervised by the DCM will now be supervised by me. Those persons include the Director of Communications, the Director of Outreach and support staff.
I am asking you to hold all of this in prayer. Please keep praying for Rev. Beth Rambikur as she assumes her new appointment at Christ Church United Methodist. Please hold all who are being given new responsibilities for this interim time. Please hold your excellent team of support staff: Lori Davalos, Carla Whitmire and Cynthia Holly in prayer as well. I am confident that with your prayers and support and with God’s help this Interim Team will serve us well!
The Rev. Dan R. Morley, Missional Strategist and Superintendent of the North District, announced that Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata intends to appoint the Rev. Cheryl Mothershed as pastor of Holbrook UMC in Holbrook, AZ, less than full-time, effective July 1, 2020 per ¶ 346.2 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline. Rev. Mothershed is a retired pastor from the Lutheran Congregations in Ministry for Christ.
Pastor Nicholas Grainger currently appointed to First UMC of Winslow is preparing to attend Candler School of Theology at Emory Uni versity in Atlanta, GA. Bishop Hoshibata also affirms that Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson of the North Georgia Episcopal Area intends to appoint Pastor Grainger to Haralson UMC, in Haralson, GA effective July 1, 2020, as a student local pastor per ¶ 318.3 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline.
Let us be in prayer for Rev. Mothershed, Pastor Grainger, Holbrook UMC and Haralson UMC in GA during this time of transition.