Rev. Armando Arellano is pastor of East Shore UMC (North Coast District) in Euclid. He is currently the chairperson of the Commission on Religion and Race, and previously served one quadrennium on the Board of Ordained Ministry.
“The key issue our denomination is facing at the present time is how to reverse the decline of our membership,” Arellano said. “My other vision is that our church becomes the choice for all people seeking a place in the Kingdom of God.”
Arellano was a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2012 and was elected as an alternate delegate to the 2008 General Conference.
Rev. Dr. Gary George is in his 10th year as assistant to the bishop. He previously served as superintendent of two districts and as a local church pastor.
“In my opinion, the most critical issue confronting the Church is becoming more passionately focused and committed in carrying out its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” George said. “Our collective attention, resources and efforts need to be increasingly aligned as we faithfully and lovingly respond to God's calling to serve the present age.”
George was a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Rev. Dan Bryant is superintendent of the Mahoning Valley district. He is a director with the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and previously served as chairperson of the Church and Society Committee, and as a member of Transitional Church Ministries and the Racial Harassment Task Force.
‘The key issue facing our denomination is ‘relevance’ in a world becoming disillusioned, divisive, fractured, adversarial and fear-filled,” Bryant said. “Jesus Christ’s love is relevant and he exemplifies what we need in our local church and beyond our walls. We are challenged to be ‘vital congregations’ and ‘faithful followers of Jesus.’”
Bryant was a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2012.
Rev. Delaine McGhee retired in 2015. She currently serves on the District Board of Ministry, the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, the Conference Commission on Religion and Race, the North Central Jurisdiction on Religion and Race, and the General Commission on Religion and Race.
“The key issue facing our denomination is how to love one another, in spite of ethnicity, race, culture, economic status, gender etc., as intended through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross,” McGhee said.
Her vision for the Church is that it “be released from bondage to be THE Church of Jesus Christ that we proclaim but cannot seem to attain.”
Rev. Scott Walsh is the senior pastor of New Leaf UMC (Western Reserve District) in Conneaut. A graduate of The Beeson Institute and The New Church Start Academy, he currently serves on the Annual Conference Worship Task Group.
His mantra is "Life is good, Eternity is better - get ready for both!" Toward that end, he pursues his passion to reach as many people as possible with The Good News of Jesus Christ.
Walsh attended Malone University, the University of Mount Union, and graduated from Ashland Theological Seminary.
Gary Henderson is chief relations officer (focusing on the Central conferences) for United Methodist Communications. In addition to 29 years of pastoral experience, he has served as executive director of Global Health Initiative of The United Methodist Church, secretary of Annual Conference, chairperson of both the Pastors Association and the Jurisdictional Elections Committee, and a member of Conference Board of Ministry and Annual Conference Restructure committees.
“I am a monastic at heart,” Henderson said. “The achievement of unity in the midst of diversity is a key issue close to my heart and the plight of the poor.”
Henderson was a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2000 and 2004.
Rev. Karen Oehl is superintendent of the Mid-Ohio district. She is dean of the East Ohio Cabinet, chairperson of the district Nominating Committee, and serves on several other boards and committees.
“The big issue for today is how we move into tomorrow: clergy and lay leadership; the relationship between the global and North American church; identifying with a gospel of grace that brings wholeness and justice to humanity,” she said. “While I love the denomination as a whole, I have a passion for how our particular identity can be a means of grace for each local church and each person in the neighborhood. Connection needs to overcome contention so that we can be conduits for the life-giving work of Christ.”
Rev. Michael Grant is pastor of Poland UMC (Mahoning Valley District). He is chairperson of the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, and serves on the East Ohio Congregational Vitality Team and the Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) Team.
“I believe that our church is at a critical juncture. There is a lack of trust in the bureaucracy, and disconnect with the local church,” he said. “There is also a lack of accountability by the church leadership to the Discipline. I would seek to bring accountability back and return us to a church that can once again change the world for Christ.”
Grant served on East Ohio delegations to General/Jurisdictional Conferences in 2008 and 2012.
Rev. Andy Call is a pastor of Church of the Saviour (North Coast District) in Cleveland Heights. He served 12 years on the lay staff at Westlake UMC, was a member of the Annual Conference Program Committee, and is a past chairperson of the Worship Task Group.
“The UMC needs to better understand our increasingly global nature and make space to celebrate and utilize our diversity,” he said. “Our best days are ahead of us if we face the future with hope and joy at what God is doing in us and through us. We must work to be thoughtful and open to share Christ effectively with our rapidly changing world.”
Call was a lay delegate to General/Jurisdictional Conferences in 2012.
Rev. Benita Rollins is superintendent of the Tuscarawas District. It’s her second time serving on the Cabinet, as she was superintendent of the Youngstown District from 1993-1999.
She has served the Church in a variety of local church, district, conference, and general board/task force capacities.
“The issues facing the Church are: connecting to the UMC revival that is ‘already and not yet’; embracing all globalization of the church - it's impact on structures and leadership development/deployment,” she said.
Rollins was a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 1998, 2000, 2004, and 2008. She was a delegate to General Conference in 1996.
Rev. Katherine Dickriede is associate pastor of Mentor UMC (Western Reserve District) and a missionary to Camphor Mission Station in Liberia. Her passion is “for Christ followers to claim their faith story and share it with others.”
She is chairperson of both the Conference Board of Missions and the 3Cs Mission Initiative, and has served on several national and international United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) teams.
“The key issues facing the denomination are inclusiveness in the church and the Church's relevance in the world, understanding that faith in Jesus Christ is about more than moral values and being a good person,” she said. “Faith in Jesus is about hope, forgiveness, grace and transformation.”
Rev. Dr. Chester Harris is pastor of Dueber UMC (Tuscarawas District) in Canton. During his 40 years in parish ministry, he has served on committees, councils, and task forces at all levels of the Church.
Harris has also been active in the communities in which he served, and has directed both domestic and international short-term mission teams.
He said that “preserving unity without compromising theological integrity is a critical issue” the Church is facing, along with, “genuine church growth – reaching all God’s people with redemptive love.”
Harris was a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 2004 and 2008.
Lay General/Jurisdictional Delegates
|Jessica Vargo, Chp.
Jessica Vargo is a life-long United Methodist who is committed and passionate to grow the church. Active in the church at all levels, she was called 13 years ago to serve in her current position as Conference Treasurer. She is also vice president of the General Council of Finance and Administration.
Vargo is the chairperson of this year’s General Conference delegation, a role she also filled in 2008. She served as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conference in 2012, as well. During that conference Vargo became the first woman to chair the Finance & Administration Legislation Committee.
She will again serve on the Finance and Administration Legislative Committee at this year’s conference.
|Holly J. Grant
Holly Grant attends Poland UMC (Mahoning Valley District), where she works with the children's programs, leads a Bible study, helps in Grief Share ministry, and attends Disciple and United Methodist Women (UMW).
“The Lord has given me many opportunities to share His love, for this I am thankful,” she said.
Grant is an attorney. With hundreds of resolutions to be addressed at General Conference, she knows her legal experience in interpreting laws and regulations will be an asset.
She previously served as a delegate. This year she will serve on the Judicial Administration Legislative Committee.
Kay Panovec is chief relations officer (focusing on United States conferences) for United Methodist Communications. She is an active member of the Church, having worked in five local churches with youth, children and adult ministries. She served for 13 years as East Ohio Conference communicator, and has worked with annual conferences throughout the US and with local congregations worldwide.
“My life has been transformed by the power and love of Jesus Christ lived out though the people of the UMC,” she said.
She will serve on the Independent Commissions Legislative Committee at this year’s conference.
Allen Laferty is chairperson of the Staff Parish Relations Committee at Crestline First UMC (Mid-Ohio District). He is a former lay leader of the church, where he also served as past chairperson of the finance committee, and as a Sunday school and Bible study teacher.
He has been active across the district, conference and national levels of The United Methodist Church, and has participated on international teams to Haiti and Russia.
Laferty was a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2008 and 2012.
Brian Sheetz is executive director of the East Ohio United Methodist Foundation. He is a member of Strongsville UMC (North Coast District), where he is active on the finance, stewardship, missions, and building committees.
He is chairperson of the district Finance Committee and is actively involved in strengthening the Church through young clergy and leadership development.
“I'm committed to the future of the denomination and we need to make decisions to ensure that future,” he said.
He will serve on the Local Church Legislative Committee at this year’s conference.
|Dr. Martha E. Banks
Dr. Martha E. Banks is a research neuropsychologist, a retired clinical psychologist, and a former professor at The College of Wooster and at Kent State University.
She is a Certified Lay Servant, and the chairperson of the Social Action Committee for the Canal District United Methodist Women (UMW). Banks also is a member of the East Ohio Conference Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC21), Commission on Religion and Race (CORR), and Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR).
She will serve on the Church and Society Legislative Committee in Portland.
Kathy Palmer is an active member of Shadyside Lincoln Avenue UMC (Ohio Valley District), where she has served on all committees of the church, been a leader of small group studies and director of Vacation Bible School (VBS).
Since 2010 she has been district director of Lay Servant Ministry, and she currently serves on the East Ohio Conference Lay Servant Ministry team.
Palmer was a marshal at General Conference in 2008 and 2012. She was a lay delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 2012.
Connor Prusha, a student at Chardon High School, a member of Chardon United Methodist Church, is the Chaplain of CCYM, a member of the Western Reserve DYC, and a regular youth group attendee. He intends to earn a bachelor’s degree after graduating from high school and then attending seminary to become an ordained minister within the East Ohio Conference. Prusha feels a strong call to ministry and is particularly interested in church politics. Serving as a delegate will be a great educational opportunity to learn and understand more about how the church operates.
Don Burdsall is a retired teacher. He volunteers with 4-H and is a past volunteer for Boy Scouts of America.
Burdsall was brought up in the Methodist Church, and he and his wife have raised their children as United Methodists. He has served as a past president of United Methodist Men (UMM), been chairperson of both the Finance Committee and the Staff Parish Relations Committee, and taugh youth Sunday school.
He is currently the Mid-Ohio District Lay Leader, and serves on the Conference Board of Laity and several district committees.
Linda Crowell is a member of Aldersgate UMC (North Coast District) in Warrensville Heights, where she is chairperson of the Church Council, serves on United Methodist Women (UMW), sings in the choir, and teaches Bible study.
A life-long Methodist, she has “experienced God’s blessings in a variety of ways through serving at all levels in The United Methodist Church.” A retired Social Work professor, author, and coach, Crowell is a Certified Lay Servant. She also serves on boards, councils and committees in the East Ohio Conference and with the General Church.
Crowell was a delegate to General Conference in 2008, a reserve delegate to General Conference in 2012, and a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 2012.
Lynn Carper is “always looking for new ways to share Jesus with those I meet every day.”
She is a member of Malvern UMC (Tuscarawas District), where she is lay leader, worship leader, a Sunday school teacher, and serves on the Trustees Committee.
A life-long member of The United Methodist Church, Carper is in her 17th year as a Certified Lay Servant. She has also served the Church as a delegate to Annual Conference, treasurer of District Lay Servants, a team member of Kairos Prison Ministry, and been active in Emmaus and with the East Ohio Evangelical Fellowship (EOEF).
|Betty L. Wilson
Betty L. Wilson is a member of Hammondsville UMC (Ohio Valley District) in Irondale, where she teaches Bible studies and Sunday school, and is coordinator of Pioneer Clubs.
“I believe in the word of God, the Bible, and the Wesleyan perspective contained in the Discipline and I adhere to the Discipline,” she said. “I know Jesus as my Savior and stand on His word for all decisions within life and the church.”
Wilson was a delegate to General Conference in 2004 and a Jurisdictional Conference delegate in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012.
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