At annual conference, 4 clergy will be elected to serve as the Delegates to the General Conference in Minneapolis MN, May 2020. The next 4 clergy receiving the highest number of votes will serve as Reserve Delegates to General Conference and be the voting delegates at the North Central Jurisdictional conference in Fort Wayne, IN in July 2020. Following this election 2 additional clergy will be elected as Reserve NCJ delegates.
How to become a candidate.
You can still be nominated from the floor of Annual Conference.
Thomas Anderson # 101
Highland United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 61
Tom Anderson has served 6 churches in 4 districts over the last 35 years in Michigan. He is Harry Denman award recipient, served on numerous boards and agencies of the district and Annual Conference. He and his wife Karen have been active in Marriage Encounter, Emmaus, Chrysalis, and Detroit Conference camp deans. He has traveled extensively on VIM teams and served most recently as Detroit Conference VIM coordinator. Locally he captains a team for Rebuilding Together, serves with the Huron Valley Community Coalition, and volunteers at the Community Sharing food and clothing bank.
Joy Barrett #102
Chelsea United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 59
- Pastor in small rural, mid-size suburban, and larger membership churches
- District Committee on Ordained Ministry
- Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (10 years; 4 as chairperson)
- General Board of Higher Education and Ministry member
- General Conference delegate since 1992
- Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy
- District Superintendent
- Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry
- UM Foundation of Michigan trustee
- Conference Secretary
I have a deep commitment to the call of God upon our United Methodist Church: a diverse and faithful people, Christ-centered and Spirit-led, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As the Michigan Conference is establishing itself, I humbly offer my experiences and the wisdom I have gained, that we may have a vital presence in our larger church.
What are the most important priorities for The United Methodist Church and Michigan Conference you see for the next 4 years?
The most important priority for The United Methodist Church and the Michigan Conference is to do as Jesus commanded: to love God with our whole selves - heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We must empower and trust our local churches and centers of ministry to love all people into relationship with Jesus Christ, and trust God with all the rest.
Brad Bartelmay #103
Holland First United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 56
Brad Bartelmay is currently President of the Council of Finance and Administration for the Michigan Conference after serving for six years on the Council of Finance and Administration (West Michigan). Brad is also a member of the Conference Leadership Council. Since 2016 he has served on the Mission Council of the North Central Jurisdiction. Brad has training in developing emotional intelligence from the EQ-HR Center and did conflict resolution work for churches on the former Kalamazoo District. Brad is committed to the furtherance of God's reign of justice, grace, and peace and believes this combined with his skills in leadership, administration, and finance will give him a unique voice as a member of the clergy delegation.
What are the most important priorities for The United Methodist Church and Michigan Conference you see for the next 4 years?
In light of the 2019 General Conference, it’s clear the United Methodist Church can no longer function as currently configured – division is not only inevitable, but necessary. Having said this, the manner in which we separate is very important. Can we continue to share some ministries such as UMCOR and Wespath? How will United Methodist assets be divided among the new denominations/branches formed from the UMC? This impacts the Michigan Conference as well. Ought we continue to operate under the Trust Clause as currently construed or can it be renegotiated giving congregations greater flexibility to pursue their best missional future. Can we reform itineracy to give local churches more input while also speaking prophetically about being fully inclusive in the appointment process? We are at a pivotal moment in the Methodist movement and we need to fully explore all possibilities for recreating the Church to meet 21stcentury challenges.
In addition to the information you have already provided on your nomination form, what else would you like us to know about you?
As the President of the Council on Finance and Administration for the Michigan Conference I believe I’m uniquely situated to be able to address the challenges listed in the aforementioned question. If selected by the conference as a delegate, I will bring my time, energy and experience to best serve not only the current church, but to help position our conference, and the churches therein, for a future of greater ministry impact for the reign of Jesus Christ.
Kennetha Bigham-Tsai #104
Connectional Table/Extension Ministries
African-American, Female, 59
Kennetha has led the church on the local, district, annual conference and general church levels. She has effectively served:
- Local churches in Lansing and Kalamazoo
- As the District Superintendent of the Lansing District
- As the Chair of the Conference Board of Church and Society
- On the Board of Ordained Ministry
- On The Connectional Table as Chair of Leadership Discernment and Community Life
- Currently serves as the Chief Connectional Ministries Officer of the Connectional Table
- At the 2016 GC, Kennetha championed the Third Way
- She was twice elected to General Conference and served as Chair of the subcommittee on Church & Society. As leader of that committee, she built consensus amongst delegates with diverging opinions.
- In her community, she participates as a speaker for interfaith events
What are the most important priorities for The United Methodist Church and Michigan Conference you see for the next 4 years?
The United Methodist Church is at a breaking point. The Special Session revealed deep divisions around how to be in ministry with our LGBTQIA+ siblings and very differing visions for what it means to be the church. These differences are so fundamental that over the next four years we will have to decide if we can stay together. If we cannot, then we must find ways to live into a new Methodism.
In addition to the information you have already provided on your nomination form, what else would you like us to know about you?
Those who lead, at this time in the life of our connection, must be able to engage in deep discernment and prayer and have the ability to build coalitions across difference. We must be creative and open to the Spirit, because God is doing a new thing in the church. My commitment is to be open to the new thing that God is doing, to build bridges, and to build up Christ’s church as an inclusive, beloved community.
Elbert Dulworth #105
Birmingham First United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 43
Currently the senior pastor at Birmingham First, a multi-site church, Elbert also serves on the Committee on Episcopacy as well as the Greater Detroit District Committee on Hispanic/Latino Ministries. Before his current appointment, Elbert served as the Marquette District Superintendent (2012-17). During that time, he was elected a Dean of the Cabinet over our years of transition to become one conference. He was the cabinet representative to the Council on Finance and Administration, the Program Committee, and the Leadership Team. Elbert has also served as the chairperson of the Crossroads District Committee on Ordained Ministry and the CLT’s Personnel Committee. As a DS, Elbert worked with local, district, and conference leadership to launch the first new church in that district since 1978.
The United Methodist Church has long identified that the key arena for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is the local church. In order for local churches to continue to be vibrant and relevant in the midst of globally diverse cultures and contexts, it is essential to provide for regional adaptations throughout the world, including the United States. As local churches continue to connect in a global Church, they must be empowered to live out their mission in their local communities. The annual conference is key to empowering relevance in mission.
In addition to the information you have already provided on your nomination form, what else would you like us to know about you?
As a pastor and a former district superintendent, I am excited about the opportunities that we have to create adaptive changes to systems within a global denomination that bring about real transformation in the lives of people in our communities and around the world for the glory of God.
Joel Fitzgerald #106
Sterling Heights United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 34
As a young clergyperson, I’m committed to helping our church faithfully navigate these anxious times. To that end, I currently serve on the Board of Directors of Wespath Benefits and Investments and serve on that board’s Audit Committee. I also serve on the Michigan Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, Young Leaders Initiative Board, UM Foundation of Michigan Board, and the board of Michigan MFSA. At annual conference, I have served as a legislative committee chair the last 6 years. Previously, I served as a General and Jurisdictional Conference delegate in 2004 and 2008, as well as the boards of conference and district youth and young adult organizations, the Conference Rules of Order Committee, and Grand Rapids Metro Ministry’s Board.
The first priority is discerning how compatibilists and non-compatibilists can move forward with integrity while reducing harm and minimizing damage to mission and ministry. General Conference 2019 made clear that that a large faction of the global church does not desire unity without uniformity. Given that fact, the top priority is dreaming a new connectionalism.
The second priority is deciding how we organize whatever comes next to best make disciples who transform an increasingly secularized and unequal world. I believe the world still needs our Wesleyan message of personal and social holiness, and I hope we can form structures that facilitate the spread of that message.
I have worked, and will continue to work, for a church that is more open, gracious, and willing to engage with the brokenness of the world. I am dedicated to helping United Methodists in Michigan find ways to make this happen.
Donald Gotham #107
Utica United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 55
Don has served as a member of the District Committee on Ordained Minsitry (past chair), District Council on Ministries, Trustee of the United Methodist Union, Conference Nominating Committee, Commission on Equitable Compensation (past Chair), Michigan Area Haiti Task Force (past chair), helping to renew the covenant between the Methodist Church of Haiti, and the UMC in Michigan, Conference Board of Global Ministries (past chair), helping to create a new structured giving program and bring agencies together, Council on Finance and Administration (current), and is currently the Co-Convener of the National Advisory Council for Church and Community Workers at the General Board of Global Ministries. Served on several VCI teams, and extensively in Congregational Resilience. Locally, served as the Chair of a three county mental health board, and a member of a child abuse and neglect prevention task force.
Carter Grimmett #108
Rochester First United Methodist Church
African-American, Male, 69
Greater Detroit District
- Committee on District Superintendency District Committee on Ministry
- Conference Board of Ordained Ministry
- 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. "Drum Major for Justice" Award recipient
- Rochester Community Schools
Diversity and Inclusion Committee
- Established Community based Multi-Cultural, Multi-Racial Family Support Group
- Life member NAACP
- Member of Ministry Mentors, a personal independent support program for clergy
Anita Hahn #109
Northern Waters District Superintendent
Caucasian, Female, 54
Anita Hahn is a visionary leader who knows the strength of the connection in building vital
ministries. She loves worship and the many languages it offers to engage diverse communities of people. She has built relationships with the Native American Congregations in Michigan and has gained their appreciation and respect. She is an advocate tor United Methodist Woman and empowering youth to use their gifts. As a former teacher for the Hearing Impaired, she knows sign language as communication and a means to "dance" in worship. She is a Kid's Hope Mentor. Acts of mission and justice exemplify her faith. A District Superintendent for 7 ½ years, she is excited to see how the United Methodist Church will continue to transform the world for Jesus.
The most important priority for the United Methodist church in the next four years is to continue empowering the local church to build real relationships with persons missing from the lives of our congregations. We will continue working to create a church where people can live out their faith convictions. This may mean persons, congregations, and conferences leaving the United Methodist Church or it may mean a new structure. We need to celebrate our diversity, celebrate how we are impacting and changing lives around the globe, and continue to empower the local church for transformational ministry.
Anita has been a Methodist or a United Methodist all of her life. She appreciates the complexities of the people who God has called to live in unity. By the grace of God, lives are changed, and justice and hope are born because of our prayers, love, and grace being put into action.
Benton Heisler #110
Director of Connectional Ministries
Caucasian, Male, 62
Benton serves as the Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) for the Michigan Conference. He was the DCM for the West MI Conference for nine years. He served as the District Superintendent of the Lansing District, in a variety of congregations across the state of Michigan and as a math and science teacher & basketball coach. He is a member of NCJ Committee on Appeals and the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee and a member of delegations since 1996. In 2008 Benton was awarded The John and Ruth Mount Outstanding Alumni Award for Parish Ministry, by MTSO. He has been an active leader and preacher in the Cornerstone UMC in Caledonia
Benton is passionately committed to Christ, his wife, Linda, and their two married daughters, and two grandsons.
The mission of the Church, “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” remains unchanged. Our conference vision of “Christ Centered Mission and Ministry, Bold and Effective Leaders and Vibrant Congregations” offers a vision that is critical to every congregation and its pastoral leadership. Each congregation, individual and conference ministry is called to express their faith and witness through this vision that helps align resources, focus energy and be the Gospel expression of grace, love and responsibility.
I have been a consistent builder and leader of diverse teams for the purpose of accomplishing common goals toward a greater good and as a reflection of the Kingdom of God here and now. I feel that this experience and the relationships I have across the denomination are a unique benefit in this time of significant change and challenge in our denomination.
Matt Hook #111
Dexter First United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 52
We are in a time when we need connectional people still focused on making disciples. As we are part of a great global church that faces 21st century challenges, I believe we can solve much with the right people around the table. In leading multi-ethnic/cultural worship & workshops, my prayer continues to be that the Holy Spirit would overflow through me to draw more and more people to the love of God in Jesus Christ. While pastoring in Bolingbrook, IL, Memphis, TN, Birmingham, MI, and Dexter with good growth, favorite ministries beyond local include Healing the Children, World Methodism (21 years), UMRC Board (11 years), UM camps (5 years), reserve delegate in 2016 & 2019 GC's, and Conference Board of Trustees.
Nancy Lynn #112
Ann Arbor First United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 53
Nancy is the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor as well as the chair of the Heritage District Committee on Ordained Ministry. She has also served as a candidate mentor through the new Candidacy Summit program and as a presenter at District Leadership Training Day. In the Ann Arbor community, she serves on the State Street Community Board and participates in the State Street Clergy consortium. Nancy says, "I feel strongly that our world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of the UMC more today than at any time in my lifetime. In the years after GC2019, I want to help the church model grace, healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation so that the world sees in us a living example of Christ's love."
In the wake of General Conference 2019, an important priority for our denomination is to determine if and how we can move forward as a global church. The General Conference model of decision-making wasn't designed for a global church and isn't sustainable as the UMC becomes more and more theologically and culturally diverse. Delegates from outside the US making decisions that only apply to clergy and churches within the US doesn't make sense. We need to create a structure that is flexible enough that it can be appropriate to different cultural contexts. In the Michigan Conference, a high priority is to support our clergy and individual churches in continuing their ministries despite the division and pain we are experiencing as a denomination. We will only begin to heal when all clergy and congregations are able to do ministry that is faithful to their beliefs, their callings, and their contexts.
I am a cradle Methodist who has lived, worked, and served overseas. I have a global perspective and appreciation for different cultures as well as a deep love for Methodism and our commitment to personal and social holiness.
Steven McCoy #113
Newburg United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 45
Steve brings a level of experience in addition to a commitment to moving the church forward in full inclusion, and new models of ministry for a world with changing needs. Steve was, elected as a reserve delegate to the 2012 Jurisdictional Conference, served on the Detroit Conference Board of Higher Education from 2000-2006, Chairperson of the Detroit Conference Board of Church and Society from 2006-2012. Chaired the Marquette District Committee on Ordained Ministry, and is the current chair of the Greater Detroit District Committee on Ordained Ministry and a member of the District Leadership Team. He was on the Board of Directors for Midland county D.A.R.E., Helping Hands Dental Clinic, Chaplains Board at Mid-Michigan Medical Center, Chair Marquette Clergy Association, Room at the Inn shelter and Churchill HS Athletic Patrons.
As we enter into the new Quadrennium, the Michigan Conference must commit itself to the changing landscape of religion. We must commit to being an open and inclusive church for all people. We are losing the younger generation who know and love God but see the church as a closed-minded institution From LGBTQ rights to, ways of giving that leave the impression we are more interested in institutional preservation than helping people in need and serving the least of these. We must commit to starting new churches with engagement in mind rather than membership. For too long we have counted vitality as who is on the roles instead of how many people we are serving in our community. We must therefore, commit to a church that is structured to serve the communities they are in and support those churches with our resources so those communities can thrive with a strong Wesleyan presence.
I grew up in the United Methodist Church, had my faith confirmed and my call nurtured at my home church in Dearborn, and committed myself to serving the UMC in whatever form, which led to my answering the call to be an Elder. I have been ordained elder for 20 years now and have seen the changes that have taken place over those years. I still have another 20 years to serve and to help transform the world. I believe that both my experience and openness to new ways of ministry can help guide the church in whatever form it will take in the immediate future. I can partner with the next generation of leaders coming up behind me to share what I have learned and learn from them as we plot out this new future for Christs church together.
Paul Perez #114
Associate Director for Mission and Ministry
Multi-Ethnic, Male, 37
The Rev. Paul Perez is a Deacon and the Michigan Conference Associate Director for Mission & Ministry. Over the past five years as a conference staff member Paul successfully grew conference young adult and disaster recovery ministries across the state.
Paul was the founding director of Justice for Our Neighbors Southeastern Michigan (JFON-SEMI). He also served as Deacon at Livonia: Newburg UMC leading mission, justice, and adult education ministries.
Annual Conference leadership:
- Michigan Area Episcopacy Committee (20012-13)
- Detroit Conference Leadership Team (2009-2012).
General Church leadership:
- Director of the General Board of Church & Society (2016-present)
- Director of the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (2004-2008
- Delegate to the 2004 General Conference
- Steering Committee Member of The United Methodist Student Movement (2000-2002)
The most important priorities are to 1) unleash Methodism to creatively share the gospel of Jesus Christ with religiously unaffiliated people, people of color, and LBGTQIA people and 2) mobilize Methodists to confront the most pressing issues facing our world: systemic racism, extreme poverty, and ecological destruction. This will require a Methodism that is governed locally, networked globally, and open to innovative forms of mission and ministry.
I am a church history and theology geek! After seminary, I spent two years studying church history at the Catholic University of America. My research focused on how ancient Christians interpreted the Bible and the contemporary ecumenical dialogues among Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Eastern Orthodox communions. I take the Bible and the ecumenical Christian tradition very seriously.
Tara Sutton #115
Halsey and South Mundy United Methodist Churches
African-American, Female, 54
Rev. Sutton has over 30 years experience as pastor and District Superintendent. She has served on many boards and agencies. She was the President of Black Clergy, served on the Board of Christian Education, Board of Nominations, Chairperson of Church and Society. She was awarded as Outstanding Alumni of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2017 and the Certificate of Congressional Recognition: Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community by the State Senator in 2015.
In the United Methodist Church and the Michigan area the main priority is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Other priorities included in the United Methodist Church are four areas of focus which emphasizes, engaging in ministry with the poor, improving global health, developing principled Christian leaders and creating new and renewed congregations.
In the Michigan area our priorities have been outlined in our vision statement which means creating Christ-centered bold and effective leaders, vibrant congregations and mission and ministries. In addition, our conference needs to become more diverse and maintain our spiritual compass.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ who loves the church. I believe God has called me to be a prophetic and bold witness that proclaims the message of our Savior. As an analytical and a dependable person, I am able to dissect and report information to everyone.
Sherri Swanson #116
Georgetown United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 57
Sherri served for six years on the Board of Ordained Ministry of the West Michigan Conference, four of those years as chairperson. She co-chaired a Task Force to design the new Board of Ordained Ministry for our Michigan Conference and she continues to serve on the new Board. Previously, Sherri was in leadership on the District Committee on Ordained Ministry for eight years and was a member of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women. In the local community, she was president of the ecumenical Ministerial Association and coordinator of the local CROP Walk for several years. Sherri is passionate about strengthening the local church for vital ministry and about sharing God’s grace with all people.
Megan Walther #117
Clarkston United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 32
Megan was elected to the General Conference delegation for the 2016 conference. She has served on the New Church Start Committee for the Conference. She serves on the Design Team for the East Winds District. She serves on the Annual Conference Worship Design Team and also as a facilitator in legislative groups during Conference session. She has a passion for missions and covenant accountability amongst clergy. She wants to see the Church thrive into the future and embrace a Wesleyan theology. She currently serves as the Associate Pastor at Clarkston UMC.
We need to think creatively. The median age of American United Methodists is 57, according to Pew Research Center, and only 9% of our adult members are under 30. Our denomination needs to do a lot of internal work: GC 2019 left us in an identity crisis that is affecting our witness in many places, we need a global Book of Discipline to address the needs of a growing worldwide church, and we continue to cling, both on a congregational and global level, to past power structures that may no longer be relevant. Anxious systems are not good at thinking creatively – but creativity needs to be our top priority at all levels. Creativity encourages new ministries to be launched in surprising ways, allows space for new faces at the table, and allows for endings so that fresh things may emerge and resurrection may happen.
I’m a fifth generation Methodist. I’m in my eighth year of full time ministry, and I’m grateful every day to serve God where I am.
John (Matt) Weiler #118
Kalamazoo Sunnyside United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 37
Rev. J Matthew Weiler was raised in the West Michigan Annual Conference, graduated from Garrett Evangelical in 2007, and has served as the appointed Elder of Sunnyside UMC in Kalamazoo, Mi for nine years. He has served on many conference camp staffs, and has partnered with the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo providing support in student leadership development, preaching, and the formation of the EncounterMi Call Internship Program. Locally, Matt has served as President of the Board of Gamaliel Community Organizing Affiliate, ISAAC and currently participates as a member of the Regional Antiracism Team with Crossroads Antiracism affiliate ERACCE (Eliminating Racism and Celebrating/Claiming Equity). Matt is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in the field of Community Organizing with an emphasis on congregational antiracist identity transformation.
The United Methodist Church, and the Michigan Conference should prioritize an analysis of the ways in which dominantly white culture has centered itself, and has historically and currently perpetuated an institution that lives into white dominant values over and above those values of the Kingdom of God. This is speaking specifically to an anti-racist / anti-oppressive lens which holds values of both/and thinking, abundance, collaboration, and transparency. An embracing of these values through an anti-racist/anti-oppressive framework will be essential in carrying us through our current tensions as we navigate a way forward in welcoming our LGBTQIA+ siblings in all areas of ministry and discipleship.
I have been married to my wife, Rev. Cara Weiler (Deacon, LMSW) for 13 years. Together we have 3 children. It is a joy doing ministry and community organizing work together in Kalamazoo where we have lived for 12 years, and within the Michigan Conference.
Christina Wright #119
Associate Director of Spiritual Care at Michigan Medicine (University of Michigan hospitals)
Caucasian, Female, 38
Rev. Christina Wright, Ph.D. is an ordained deacon, currently serving as the Associate Director of Spiritual Care at Michigan Medicine (University of Michigan hospitals), where she previously served as a staff chaplain for 3 years. Her missional appointment is with Royal Oak First UMC. Christina serves on the conference Board of Ordained Ministry as a board member and seminarian liaison. She served as Co-President of the national Board of Directors for Methodist Federation for Social Action and as a community organizer for various not-for-profits. She has attended and been involved with legislation and volunteer work at each General Conference since 2004. Her doctoral dissertation focused on research with United Methodist clergypersons.
GC19 demonstrated the deep divisions within The UMC and the ways in which the current structures are unable to withstand the demands being placed on them. As such, we are severely limiting our ability to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world while also causing great harm in many contexts. We can no longer ignore these divisions; this is a critical time in the life of our denomination to prayerfully discern what structures and relationships best allow us to live into our mission and to follow Wesley to do no harm, do good, and attend to the ordinances of God. The voices of the most vulnerable and oppressed must take priority in such conversations. While I would be honored to contribute to this discernment, I would gladly defer to clergy of color and/or LGBTQIA+ clergy. Amidst these deep divisions, every day, United Methodist clergy and laity continue to attempt to live out their callings in local communities, and we must continue to support them in providing effective ministry. Attending to the the well-being of individuals and local communities while discerning the larger denominational structure must be at the forefront of our work.
Jill Zundel #120
Detroit: Central United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 59
Rev. Dr. Jill Hardt Zundel is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary and Ecumenical Theological Seminary. Her dissertation, "Changing Attitudes Toward Homosexuality: A Journey in Transformational Education" put her in the spotlight and cross hairs of the denomination. The first female Senior Pastor of Detroit: Central, a Reconciling Congregation, she continues to be a voice for LGBTQIA inclusion. She has served on District Committees on Ordained Ministry, mentored over 25 ministerial candidates; Hands4Detroit planning team, Conference Nominating Committee and Board of Church and Society. She's led mission teams to three states and traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. She is a sought after speaker and preacher. Central is a Sanctuary Church, housing an Albanian family under threat of deportation for over a year. Awards include: The Jess DeWitt Peace with Justice Award (2017) and Drum Major for Justice Award (2018).
At annual conference, 4 laity will be elected to serve as the Delegates to the General Conference in Minneapolis MN, May 2020. The next 4 laity receiving the highest number of votes will serve as Reserve Delegates to General Conference and voting delegates at the North Central Jurisdictional conference in Fort Wayne, IN in July 2020. Following this election 2 additional laity will be elected as Reserve NCJ delegates.
Ruby Anderson #201
Scott Memorial United Methodist Church
African-American, Female, 60+
Ruby Anderson has been an active member of the United Methodist Church 37 years. Currently serving as the district lay leader for the Greater Detroit District, helping make the district laity more informed and active, chair of the District Commission on the Laity, Certified Lay Servant and other standing committees. She has served as lay member to Annual Conference, Nominations Committee, Leadership Team , Board of Ordain Ministry, and received the 2018 John Buxton Award for Creative Leadership. At the General Conference level she was elected as a director to GBGM, UMDF and United Methodist Women National board. She currently serves as vice-president of her neighborhood association and participates in evangelism in the local church community.
In the next four years I see several important priorities for the UMC and the Michigan Conference. I see the most important priorities as young adult membership, children’s ministry, hospitality, and endowments to enable missions to be ongoing.
We must make disciples for Christ through opening doors for membership of young adults between the ages of 18-45. The UMC needs to devote time and resources to young adults and families to fully make them aware of the loving and saving grace of Jesus Christ. Our churches need children. Children’s ministry - should offer programs of interest to children of all ages. Hospitality - is greatly needed to help all who enter the UMC feel welcome. Endowments - allow the church to plan for the future and would assure that missions continue.
In addition to what I have provided on my nomination form I would like to share my thoughts before entering my name for nomination. I began praying for discernment in October 2018. I value the hard work of the delegates and take it very seriously. I prayed to God to prepare me fully just in case I should be elected. I prayed his will be done. I believe God prepares us for such a time as this. The task is not easy, but if I am called by God, I want to answer, yes.
Diane Brown #202
Chelsea First United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 58
A member of Chelsea First UMC with strong organization and leadership skills, Diane is a life-long United Methodist who has served in conference, district and local leadership positions. She is passionate about the United Methodist Church, its mission and its method. Namely, she is the Legislative Coordinator for the Michigan Conference and former Detroit Conference; member Rules of Order; member of the GC/NCJC delegations in 2008, 2012 and 2016-2019; freelance writer with Michigan Conference Communications; former chair District Council on Ministries and secretary District UMW; former church treasurer, Board of Trustees chair, and Church Council chair. She earned an MBA from University of Michigan and B.S. from Central Michigan University and is a member of the Detroit Handbell Ensemble and two church handbell choirs.
The United Methodist Church serves domestically and globally with those in poverty, hunger or crisis. We must prioritize through our actions our primary belief that God’s grace is available to all people, no matter where from, look like or done. The Great Commandment challenges us to find ways to be a church community to all. As the Conference lives into a new structure, we must equip clergy and lay members to effectively connect with unchurched community residents while providing growth opportunities and supportive ministries for existing members. Revenue stream diversification and budget revision along with finding new, effective outreach models that aren’t based in brick-and-motor continue to be crucial to sustain church ministries.
Along with many years of coordinating conference legislation, I also served on the 2013-16 NCJC Rules Committee. At the 2016 General Conference, I served on a General Administration sub-committee that addressed petitions recommending revisions to Paragraph IV (Inclusion) of our United Methodist Constitution. The 15 sub-committee members embodied the philosophy that building relationships can help bridge differences.
My legislative work has deepened my knowledge of the Book of Discipline and parliamentary procedure, both critical to effectively participating at General and Jurisdictional conferences. As a third-generation (United) Methodist passionate about our Church, my legislative knowledge, denomination experience and relationships would be very beneficial to the Michigan Conference as the 2020 General Conference likely will address a myriad of changes for the future of the United Methodist Church.
Brenda DuPree #203
Clarkston United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 76
Brenda Dupree has served: Michigan Crossroads District: Secretary of Global Ministries 2012-2018, Leadership Team, 2012-2018, Trustee 2013-2018, Haiti-Liberia Committee 2013-2018
Detroit Annual Conference: Chair Conference Mission Personnel 2014-2018, Chair Board of Global Ministries 2018-
Community: Blessings in a Backpack and Inventory Chair 2011-2019, Tutor for Clarkston Youth Assistance 2003-2018
Numerous Mission Trips, national and international.
- Living out our faith and God’s love, whether one-church, traditional, or otherwise – respectfully treating each person, each child of God with words and actions of grace so that the world knows God
- Moving forward with renewed boldness and belief in a Wesleyan foundation for a truly open, re-organized church
- Assuring that what the UMC is accomplishing globally through financial and organizational support of seminaries, colleges, hospitals, GBGM, etc., continues to be strong, to thrive and grow
- Leading the world in the encouragement of all peoples
- Harnessing our passions of anger, sadness, hope, and love to positively serve all peoples
- Retired: Lahser High School Mathematics Teacher (20 years), including Student Activities Coordinator and Student Council/Leadership Teacher (11), also junior high math teacher (7)
- MI Annual Conference: Chair, Board of Global Ministries, 2018 –
- DAC: Chair Mission Personnel and Member Board of Global Ministries, 2014 – 2018
- Crossroads District: Secretary of Global Ministries, Leadership Team, Trustee, Haiti-Liberia Committee - 2012-2018
- Clarkston United Methodist Church: Choir (43 years), Missions (20), Chair (3), Lay Leader (2012 -), Co-Coordinator Capital Campaign, 2015 & 2019
- Mission trips: local, national, international
- Blessings in a Backpack Clarkston Board, 2011 –
- Clarkston Area Youth Assistance tutor, 2004 - 2015
Jacqueline Euper #204
Owosso First United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 71
At present, Jackie is the Michigan Conference Secretary of Global Ministries. She worked for 25 years for the Flint District in the area of Christian Education and Youth Ministries. She has served on district, conference and national levels of UMW. At present, she is co-dean of Mission u. 2008 - 2012, Jackie served on the Board of Directors for GBGM and UMCOR. In her local church, she serves on the missions committee which spearheads projects locally and around the world. Her love for UM missions has taken her to Mexico, Haiti and Liberia several times. Jackie has been a delegate to General Conference since 1992.
Gordon Grigg III #205
Ishpeming Wesley United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 21
He was a volunteer Youth Director at his home church, also a volunteer camp counselor at Camp Michigamme before getting called to go into youth ministry. Being the Youth
Director, he also sat on the Administrative Board in his church first as the youth rep then as a member at large. He was also on the Christian Education committee, he was a Sunday School teacher and youth group leader and a VBS volunteer as assistant station leader, to music/assembly leader then to being a co-director. He was honored by a local News station for his volunteer working by being the which is where they highlight people doing good in the community. He is currently studying youth ministry at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids.
The most important thing that the Michigan Conference is to work on loving the ones who we hurt as a result of the General Conference of 2019. There are people who feel like they are not welcomed in the church anymore and we need to show them that they are more welcomed than before. We need them in the church not as a project but as a voice we need to listen to them and take what they say into consideration. We need to remember that their voice is as equal to anyone else’s voice. We also need to work on trying to get more young people involved in the church. We need more young people going to Annual and General Conference as voting members. The reason is that the young people are the church right now, the decisions made impact the rest of lives in the church.
I grew up in Ishpeming. You can find me on the weekends spending time out at my family’s camp in Twin Lakes or hanging around the campfire at my cousin’s place out on the Dead River Basin, laughing, telling. During the week when I have time I go out exploring the woods taking in God's handy work. My time at Wesley before I left for college, I had helped create the Youth Director position. I was the one who worked with the Staff Parish Relations Committee on creating a job description, duties, and training manual for the Youth Director. During this past year, I had started school Kuyper College studying Ministry Leadership with a specialization in Youth Ministry. My first year at Kuyper I have served as the Non-Traditional Representative on Student Government. I am working at Camp Michigamme as head cook
Nichea VerVeer Guy #206
Trinity United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 63
• Christian disciple embodying the call to serve unconditionally.
• Local, District, Conference and National Board of Directors/Officer with United Methodist Women, currently appointed to their National Racial Justice Team.
• Denominational delegate with United Nations Migration and Human Rights/Geneva and Status of Women, New York
• Elected to serve with general Board of Global Ministries and seven years liaison with Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
• Employed within the church serving: Founding Executive Director, Northend Community Ministry
• Currently: Trinity's Discipleship Ministries Director
• Empowered by leadership as Co-Chair Commission on Annual Conference and
• Delegation Head: General Conference 2016/Special Session 2019
• Embracing capacities as gifted by God to servant leadership through: global mission relational experiences, environmental justice and health/welfare services.
• "Doing justice...loving kindness...walking humbly with God" kindness, walking humbly with my God"
Robert Hegel #207
Mio United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 74
Robert brings a unique set of skills and experience including 50 years in the UMC, multicultural experience through African missionary service, small and large church involvement, and a career in technology business management.
Robert is a Member of the Mio UMC, an Affiliate Member of the Birmingham/Berkley church and has been a delegate to the Michigan Annual Conference for the past 3 years. Church involvement recently has been focused on local church missions such as the local homeless shelter, food bank, affordable housing and young family assistance. Other church activities are church building project leadership and installation and operation of technology for worship and communications. Robert has been a regular Bible teacher in both adult and children’s ministries, within the local church and as a 20 year participant in Bible Study Fellowship. Robert and his wife have also recently served as long-term missionaries in Malawi through Rafiki Foundation.
- In light of resolving a key issue of our definition of marriage, there is a need for rebuilding a solid, unified consciousness of ourselves that harmonizes the entire global membership and leadership. The message of personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ must dominate our efforts, and our missional presence everywhere calls for the winsome love image that Jesus teaches.
- Honor the desire of Congregations to leave the UMC, by offering a loving, gracious process for separation.
- Strengthen our efforts in sound Biblical literacy so our Christian heritage and teachings of the Bible can be more effectively understood in an increasingly secular culture.
- Emphasize radical hospitality to everyone who enters our midst.
Hoon-Yung Hopgood #208
Troy Korean United Methodist Church
Korean, Male, 44
Hoon-Yung Hopgood has been active in the local community and his church, Troy, Korean, as well as District and Annual Conference meetings and events. Hoon-Yung received the Drum Major for Justice Award at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration of the Greater Detroit District. Hopgood serves on the Board of Justice, Division on Religion and Race, as well as on the Justice for our Neighbors-Michigan (JFON-MI) Board. Hoon-Yung had the honor of recently completing fourteen years of legislative service in the Michigan House and Senate, having the distinction of being the first Korean American to hold state office in Michigan.
George Jonte-Crane #209
Ann Arbor: First United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 60
Active with the conference for 13 years. Have been an At-Large Delegate from the Heritage District for all those years. Recently became a conference Certified Speaker. Have been pulpit supply on several occasions recently. Serve the conference as Chair of Peace with Justice as part of the Board of Justice, Advocacy and Equity. Have served on Conference Nominations Committee, Worship Planning Committee and directed the conference choir two times. Serve on the Executive Committee of both Michigan MFSA(Methodist Federation for Social Action) and Dedicated Reconciling United Methodists. Recently elected to my first term on the national board of Reconciling Ministries Network. Spearheaded an outreach project through a grant from the Arcus Foundation and facilitated through Detroit Central UMC advocating for social justice among all our churhes. Served on the Executive Board of Inclusive Justice, a statewide faith based coalition for social action through all denominations in Michigan. Serve on the board of the Detroit Renaissance District Martin Luther King Celebration.
Laurie Kaufman-Delagarza #210
Gladstone Memorial United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 67
District- Protection Policy train-the-trainer. Former DCOM chairperson. Camp Michigamme board, counselor, 9 year Junior High co-dean recruiting 8 volunteer counselors annually. Certified lay speaker/servant. facilitated Polity and Lay-Servant classes. Wrote $12,000 Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) grant.
Conference- Nominations committee -6 year Camp Kinawind counselor/co-dean. Formerly: CCOM. CCOM exec, standing rules, Christian Education. DAC Protection Policy development task force. 2002-2010 Detroit Conference Council on Youth Ministry adult coordinator, helped youth plan annual fall rallies, Conference Youth Assemblies, joint WMI Confirmand rallies with the bishop. Assisted youth write $8,000 CICW grant providing district-wide youth lay-speaking training. Calvin: first youth written grant. Supported youth in Jurisdictional, general, and global activities. Ellgage MI ambassador. Community-1995-2019 Asset Building. Asset Based Community Development created 15-year after-school program.
Steven Lett #211
Traverse City Central United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 71
Steve is a lifelong member of the UMC and currently is a member of Traverse City Central UMC in the Northern Waters district where he serves on the District Leadership Team.
Steve has attended more annual conferences than he cares to count, several General Conferences and Jurisidictional Conferences. Steve has been on numerous committees for the West Michigan conference and is currently on the Board of Ordained Ministry for the Michigan Conference.
The first priority for the United Methodist Church is to come to the realization that
neither the conservatives nor the progressives are going to change the mind of the other.
Therefore for the Church to continue along the same path that it has is not beneficial to
making disciples for Christ. The Church will be better served to separate to enable the conservatives and the progressives to minister to each of their respective followers without the distraction of continued turmoil. A plan for separation needs to be developed
and adopted by General Conference that is equitable to all concerned.
Having started my journey as a conservative I have now come to believe that all of God’s
people, including LGBTQ+, are worthy of being included in “ALL” aspects of church life regardless of their sexual orientation or who they may be married to.
Jennifer Peters #212
Court Street United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 41
Jen Peters is a member of Flint: Court Street UMC and a graduate of Albion College and Eastern Michigan University. For eight years she has served as the registrar of the Detroit then Michigan Conference working extensively with clergy and laity. Before moving to Flint she served as the Outreach Coordinator and Missions Chair at Fenton UMC. Jen has a passion for encouraging churches to engage with their communities and sought out new and expanded ways to do that while at Fenton. She has taken and led mission trips to Haiti, raised funds and promoted various mission projects, and isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves.
I believe that our strength is in our connection, and our weakness has been in the time, energy, and resources spent on exclusion and creating limitations. We are called to transform the world through radical love. Jesus preached an entire parable to define the word “neighbor” and his ministry teaches us over and over to draw the circle wide. Full inclusion should be our foundation for radical love. Resources should be spent on ministering to our neighbors and communities. The church should equip leaders of all ages, colors, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds to transform the world.
I love learning, I love listening, and I love putting things in perspective. My educational background is in anthropology, art history, museums, and historic preservation...basically, I want to learn about the past in order to understand the present and build a better future. I have never felt the call to ordained ministry, but I have felt called to minister to my community, to listen to my siblings, to learn from other cultures, and to try to understand how we are where we are and how we can do better. As a clergy spouse, I have the privilege to uniquely see and understand the clergy side of ministry while fully participating as a lay member in the local church. I believe we can always do better and I love the Wesleyan idea that we are moving on to perfection.
Anne Soles #213
Pentwater Centenary United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 74
I am current co-conference lay leader and alternate delegate to NCJ. My current work includes Nominations, CLC, Full Cabinet, Communications, AC Commission, Lay Servant Ministries, Board of Laity and "blogger" for Mi-Connect. Local church activities currently - facilitator for congregational care and I serve dinner weekly in Community Dinner, active in Adult Study group, and some choir. Prior work: Leadership Council Chair GT, Board of Higher Ed WMC, Conference LL for WMC. Experience includes higher ed teaching (gov't), AmeriCorps, aging network - various positions include chair of Area Agency on Aging and geriatric care manager.
Ruth Sutton #214
Sanford United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 72
Currently, Central Bay District UMW president, served on district lay servant committee, previously convener of District Nominations, served last 8 years on Conference Equitable Compensation committee, a Reserve Delegate for the 2016 Jurisdictional Conference (attended all special called General Conference planning meetings and attended Bishop David Bard's listening sessions). At the Sanford UMC served as Ad Council chair, SPRC chair and finance committee member and as a lay servant served as worship leader. Work in the local Midland homeless shelter two days per week, preparing meals for the soup kitchen and in the Sanford Food Pantry.
My goal is to give representation to the small church in rural northeastern MI. I live by the rules in Micah 6:8. “to do justice, embrace love and walk humbly with God.” I believe that God loves everyone and there are no exceptions. I try to live every day, trying to improve the Kin-dom of God. I live this out as a volunteer at the local homeless shelter, on mission trips to Liberia, Haiti and Mexico and as an active participant in the local, district and conference UMW.
The most difficult issue facing my church, the district, the conference and the greater world church is unity. If our focus is Jesus and the message that he has taught us, then we will find commonalities that we can unite around. As a delegate to the Annual Conference I will pray for unity and acceptance of all people into the church.
William Tolentino Jr. #215
Novi United Methodist Church
Asian, Male, 45
Mr. William Tolentino's involvement with the church as follows:
- National UMYF President in the Philippines-1995-1996
- National UMYAF President in the Philippines-2012-2016- activation of 21 Annual conference YA ministries
- Member, Division on Ministries with Young People-2012-created the 1st GYPCLA & Young People's Address
- Member, General Board of Discipleship, 2014
- Chair, Worship Ministries, Novi UMC, 2018- spearheaded the 190th Anniversary of Novi UMC showcasing Asian presence in the congregation through "Taste of Asia"
- Lay Delegate to Michigan Conference, 2017
- Provided vegetables to the Novi Foodbank 2017-2018, raised funds for Crop Walk 2018 and helped a single parent secure furniture and food for her mobile home in Novi MI, 2018
I can see 3 most important things for the Michigan Annual Conference UMC to consider for the next four years:
Max Waagner #216
Jackson First United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 68
I have served the United Methodist Church for the last eleven years as Distrid Lay Leader and
District Leadership Chairperson for the Albion District and currently serve as DLL for the Heritage District. I recently completed four years as chair of the SPRC at FUMC, Jackson. I served a short stint as Associate Lay Leader for the Conference under Anne Soles. I have served on the Jackson Non-Profit Support Center, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers, both as a Big for three youngsters and as a Board member. I served for three years as the leader of the Jackson High School Band Boosters, (honored as volunteer of the year for the JHS Ambassadors), and actively participated as a performer, board member, and director in Clark Lake Players and Jackson Civic Theater.
As we struggle to find volunteers among the laity particularly those under the age of fifty, churches need to follow some of the concepts practiced in the REACH program where the idea of having fewer and fewer meetings was brought forth. This obviously involves reorganizing, but it also frees up time for our folks to truly be disciples for bible study, prayer, and reflection. The art of listening and reflection in Holy Conferencing needs greater emphasis. Someone besides the bishop needs to listen.
I was reminded when I first began seeking a vocation as a member of the clergy that I needed to share my life experiences with my fellow church members. If no one is listening then there is no point. We just need to ask God to open our ears before we open out mouths. I believe that we have the potential to be amazing but it needs to start with a more basic approach for us all.
Andrew Wayne #217
Nardin Park United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Male, 43
- Certified lay speaker/servant, 2006-2018.
- Lay member of annual conference, 2000-present.
- Council on Finance & Administration, 2002-2009, 2017-present current council vice president.
- Leadership Team 2009-2016; served on executive committee with expertise in budgetary matters.
- Standing Rules Committee, 2015-2018.
- Chair of annual conference LEAD group/legislative committee, 2005-2006, 2008-2013, 2015-2016, 2018.
- Michigan Conference Design Team, 2015-2018; principal drafter of annual conference plan of organization.
- Board of Directors, Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeastern Michigan, 2007-2009.
- Extensive knowledge of church law (Discipline and Judicial Council decisions) and parliamentary procedure.
What is the most important priority for the UMC in the next four years?
Our most important priority is the same as it has always been – making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Certainly, we have important problems to deal with – problems like declining attendance, aging buildings, and dying congregations. And certainly, we have important issues to grapple with – issues like the role of Americans in an increasingly global church, the degree to which pop culture should define morality, and the way we work together in ministry with those with whom we disagree. But all of these challenges must be seen through the lens of the Great Commission. For if we fail to make disciples of all nations, bringing the light of Jesus Christ to the world, all else will be for naught.
What else would you like for us to know about you?
I am proud that our denomination is truly global in scope and outlook. I truly believe that an orthodox witness, in concert with faithful Christians around the world, will ultimately be more effective at bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the people of Michigan. Many in our conference disagree and would rather see a church that is more acceptable in the eyes of pop culture. And while I disagree with such people, I recognize them as good Christians, striving to live out their faith the best they can. I value my relationships with others in this conference, including those who disagree with me. I look forward to continuing to work in ministry with everyone in the Michigan Annual Conference. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
Laura Witkowski #218
Grand Rapids Aldersgate United Methodist Church
Caucasian, Female, 39
Laura is currently the Associate Director for Lay Leadership Development, North Central Jurisdiction Mission Council vice chair, local church small group leader and adult education facilitator, Vital Church Initiative consultant and scribe.
Her experience includes General and Jurisdictional Conference Alternate Delegate 2016 & 2019, Commission on the Annual Conference Session Co-Coordinator, member of the Commission on the Annual Conference Session / Conference Program Committee, Conference Facilitator, member of the Conference Committee on Rules of Order, Conference Secretary, Assistant Conference Secretary, member of the Grand Rapids District Nominations Committee, Local Church Vital Church Initiative Team Leader, Communications Team Member, Missions Committee Chairperson.
- Creatively find a new way forward in our brokenness. We need to show the world what it really means to be a follower of Jesus, to live out the Gospel, to love God and love others. A core characteristic of our DNA is social holiness. We are in this together and include all at the table. Leaving that piece of United Methodism behind is not an option.
- Reclaim our baptismal vows of resisting injustice and oppression in all forms they present themselves. Looking at ways to collaborate with one another, focus on abundance, cultivate transparency and have both/and thinking are key.
- Shine a light on those who are not being heard by acting on issues of poverty, human rights and peace throughout the world. It is important to recognize that no one is truly voiceless, we just are not listening.
I’ve been in the United Methodist Church my whole life and have invested my whole self in it. I do not believe this is MY church; I believe this is God’s church and I am one of its caretakers, agents, organizers and promoters.