Bishop Will Willimon announces changes in the Cabinet for the coming year. These changes are a part of The North Alabama Conference continuing to organize itself around its ministry priorities to work toward growth of the Kingdom of God and increased fruitfulness.
Rev. Dale Cohen will become the District Superintendent of the Northeast District in June and transition out of his role as Director of Connectional Ministries. He will specifically work with the Northeast District leadership in developing a model of Connectional Ministries at the district level to make connectionalism more effective in the other districts and the Conference as a whole.
"Major changes we have made in the Conference including our radical, creative reformation of Connectional Ministries, implementation of Natural Church Development (NCD), offering First 90 Days training for all our pastors moving to a new appointment plus other vital changes have Dale's stamp upon them," said Bishop Willimon. "Now he will bring those gifts to the leadership of one of our most dynamic areas."
In a new model for leadership, Rev. Cohen will work with an Associate District Superintendent. Rev. Sherill Clontz, pastor of New Life UMC and Secretary of the Annual Conference will join the Cabinet as Associate District Superintendent for the Northeast District.
"Sherill is doing an exciting turn around at our New Life Church," said Bishop Willimon. "She will now be giving at least a day a week to our dynamic Northeast District. She brings a unique blend of talents to this work and will be our first ever Associate DS."
"The Northeast District is our area of greatest growth, greatest potential, and greatest challenge," said Bishop Willimon. "Current Northeast District Superintendent Rev. Tom Bell has done a great job of leading our most fruitful district. He has convinced us of the need for special efforts in this growing edge of our Conference. We really want to build upon what Tom has accomplished there by giving this dynamic district all of the energy, oversight, equipment and encouragement it deserves. Before his retirement in June, Tom will be leading the transition of the Northeast District into some very different ways of performing the ministry of oversight in the coming year."
In leading the Northeast District Dale Cohen and Sherill Clontz will be joined by the Rev. Tommy Gray who has moved the office of Congregational Development to Huntsville.
"We've had a huge boost in our equipment of and supervision of new churches by making Tommy the Superintendent for all our new congregations and our campus ministers," said Bishop Willimon. "We have a dozen opportunities for new church work in the Huntsville area and by relocating the Office of Congregational Development, Tommy will insure that we step up to those opportunities."
Dr. Tom Bell says, "God has given us some great opportunities for growth in the Northeast District. I'm thrilled to see the Conference recognizing that and reorganizing itself to meet the challenge."
Bishop Willimon also noted that current plans are for the 2011 Annual Conference to meet at Asbury UMC in Madison, thus focusing upon the growth and leadership in the Northeast District.
Also, as previously announced, Rev. Lori Carden, who serves as Conference Coordinator for Natural Church Development, will now be a member of the Extended Cabinet, working to insure that the insights of NCD on the health of churches and the leadership of the pastors are available to the Cabinet in its work. Rev. Carden will also spend part of her week working out of the Mountain Lakes District as a consultant for Mountain Lakes District Superintendent Rev. Bill Gandy.
"Lori has far surpassed her goal for churches involved in the Natural Church Development process. She has shown unusual gifts for evaluating and consulting with churches," said Bishop Willimon. “It’s going to be great to welcome Lori and Sherrill to the ministry of oversight.”
The vision of the North Alabama Conference is Every church challenged and equipped to grow more disciples of Jesus Christ by taking risks and changing lives. The Conference priorities are New Congregations, Natural Church Development, Effective Leadership, Empowering a New Generation of Christians, and Missions.