Debra Buzard

Church Name: First (Kearney)

Share any relevant background information including leadership experience both within the church and in other areas of your life.

In decision-making roles within the church, I served on the Church Council for many years during growth and transition. As volunteer director of outreach ministry, I created and implemented both the Love Haiti and Love KC programs for our church. In this position, I regularly attend staff meetings and assist with both day-to-day and long-range planning.

In the community, I have led many school-related activities and recently helped plan for an all-district diversity-training session for Kearney teachers and administrators. 

I serve on the Advisory Council for a children's home in Haiti, setting policies and procedures.  I have a passion for traveling and engaging with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. 
 I earned both a bachelor's and a master’s degree, in Journalism and Mass Communication.  I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, a teacher and student of the Word, a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, servant, and friend. 

Describe your personal practices of intentional faith development that strengthen your spiritual engagement with God and your capacity for fruitful leadership in the church.

I was not raised in a church.  Studying the Bible, reading and discussing different Biblical interpretations, believing, praying, and being an active member of a church was not inherent to me.  Because of this, early stages of faith development, including simply attending church, were relentlessly intentional.

Today, 30 years later, attending church, praying, Bible study, serving, and being a follower of Christ are part of who I am. I remain intentional about my personal growth in faith and servanthood by daily studying the Bible, praying, reading historical and current Biblical perspectives, and visiting other Methodist churches to observe different styles of discipleship. Each day, I make deliberate efforts to to see and behave towards others and the environment the way I think Jesus would, knowing that I will always fall short.

Why do you seek election as a lay delegate representing the Missouri Conference?

I was asked to seek election by a person of unwavering faith and someone I greatly respect and trust.   She believes my leadership skills and experience would be an asset to the delegation of General and Jurisdictional Conference.  After careful consideration, reflection and intense prayer, I decided to enthusiastically offer my gifts as leader, visionary, communicator, policy maker, unifier, and decision maker for the position as lay delegate representing the Missouri Conference, understanding the profound impact this role may have on the future of the United Methodist Church. To address the elephant in the Methodist room, I have been a supporter of the one-church plan. However, I am willing to listen, work with, and understand differing views of which I will respect. I am not a one-platform candidate. I will consider each topic with equal importance. My foremost agenda as a delegate is to be a student and disciple of Jesus Christ.  

How will your involvement in General Conference 2020 support the church to fulfill the mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”?

Our mission field for new disciples is vast.  The closing of church doors and the declining number of Christians tells us that we, as disciples of Christ, are missing something.  I believe communication, transparency, faith, and determination are key elements to reaching and encouraging people to become followers of Christ.  I look forward to the challenge of being a representative, and to the responsibility of sharing what I learn from and about the process.  I am a communicator.  I will use this skill to inform both believers and non-believers about decisions and policies set forth by delegates. To make disciples, we must be disciples.  My major role as a delegate will be to be a disciple of Christ.

Since the primary focus for Jurisdictional Conference is to elect new bishops, what qualifications do you think the church needs in its future episcopal leaders?

I would look for a candidate who possesses both passion and intellect, the foundation of Methodism.   The role of Bishop is clearly defined in the Book of Disciple: 403 (2016).  In addition to expecting the candidate to meet those requirements, I would also seek a person with the following traits:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Confidence
  • Inspiring 
  • Committed and passionate
  • A good communicator
  • A decision maker
  • Accountable
  • Delegator and empowerer
  • Innovator
  • Empathizer