Conference Staff Transitions

Greetings Beloved in Christ Jesus,

Just a few more days and nearly 2000 of us will be online together for our virtual Annual Conference Session. I am looking forward to the day.

I want to share with you two staff transitions that you will want to note. Over the course of the last two years we have transitioned from the Council on Development to creating the United Methodist Foundation of West Ohio. The board chaired by Bruce Boyd partnering with Stan Ling, Director and other conference staff have navigated this effort wonderfully.

Last week the Foundation Board voted to hire Susan O’Donnell Black, CFRE as the first Executive Director. Ms. O’Donnell Black has been involved in the United Methodist Church throughout her life. She is currently an active member of the Lithopolis UMC and is an at-large member of the Annual Conference. She is coming to this new work with over 25 years of experience in professional fund raising including having her own consulting firm in the field. She is skilled in board training and governance of nonprofits. She will begin part-time in mid-September and assume full-time duties on October 1 overseeing the work of the Foundation which includes $80 Million in assets. She and Stan will have an overlap that is appropriate and helpful. I am persuaded that Susan will bring faith, skill, strength and energy to this work. I am grateful for her yes to the challenge.

We will miss the Reverend Dr. Stan Ling who has given himself to the work of the COD without reserve as he has to every ministry setting where he has served including the local church, conference staff, theological education, fund development for the faith community.

Several months ago The Reverend Sue Nilson Kibbey shared with me the tug on her heart to seek another appointment to Extension Ministry effective January 1, 2020 that would allow her to broaden her work in resourcing congregations that want to claim their next best future. For ten years she has given to this conference her passion and expertise in to help congregations thirst after God’s will for them through the Breakthrough Prayer Initiative. Sue has brought to full flower the Missional Church Consultation Initiative (MCCI) that has walked with dozens of congregations as they faced new futures. She developed Traction Tracks to aid local churches to develop new ministry muscles in specific niches. She has worked closely with Brad Aycock in the area of New Church Development.

I couldn’t be more grateful that in the providence of the almighty I had the privilege of working so closely with Sue to grow the mission forward. Her laser focus on the mission and her deep life of prayer are a gift from which I have benefited greatly. As the details of her next way of practicing ministry become more clear and specific you will hear more. In the meantime Sue plans to work right up to the finish line.

Brad Aycock the Director of New Church Development will continue on staff in that role and will assume some additional responsibilities that we are working on. The work of congregational redevelopment will continue vigorously though different faces on the staff will be supporting it. The mission is clear and more urgent than ever. Have no doubt we will continue to start new faith communities and resource congregations yearning for competency in carrying out the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.


Yours in Christ,

+Bishop Gregory V. Palmer