Colette Cummings

Church Name: Maplewood
Gateway Central

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

I am a life-long United Methodist who was confirmed in the congregation I grew up in Atlanta, GA where I was active in youth group, choir and serving as an usher on the young adult usher team. I joined Maplewood United Methodist Church 10 years ago and have been an active member since then. I have a passion for learning. I currently serve as the Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs Department at Webster University. In this role I have the honor and pleasure of working with young people from around the world. I and connect people and ideas to create meaningful change around issues related to diversity and, equity and inclusion for all people. The concepts of inclusion and equity are part of my life’s work, I incorporate it into every facet of my life, including my doctoral studies where my dissertation topic focused on people adapting to the nation’s increasing demographic diversity.

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

My personal time with God is done through daily devotionals, prayer, taking long walks in nature, participating and leading small group studies within the church. As an Avid reader, I am constantly reading books connected to my faith and to strengthen my ability to teach others. I currently serve as a member of the administrative council and have been the lay delegate to the Missouri Annual Conference for the past four years. I am a faithful member of our prayer team and have led prayer walks through the building focusing on where God is directing our ministries. I also serve on the Gateway Central District Mission Council, and I am also on the team creating a discipleship pathway for our congregation.

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

I am seeking to be a lay delegate to General Conference to follow in the footsteps of strong Methodist African American women like Mary Bethune –who served as a delegate to four Methodist General Conferences during a difficult period in the life of the church. I also feel a call to stand up and represent diversity and inclusion within the larger United Methodist church. I think that my spiritual gifts of leadership, serving, message of knowledge, along with my listening skills, ability include others and work on a team, will allow me to be a productive member of the Missouri delegation to General and Jurisdictional conference.

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 communities are in desperate need of people who understand and connect to the powerful love that comes from knowing the love of Christ. Being a delegate would allow me to put Christ’s unconditional love in action firstly with my fellow delegates and then to everyone I meet at General and Jurisdictional Conference. I believe that as we work together to do the business of the church, we will transform one another and return to our respective communities emboldened to share Christ’s unconditional love with everyone we encounter.

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 think the Church needs to elect bishops who love God and are fully devoted followers of Jesus. The Church needs leaders who are willing and able to embrace the complexity of our world and the issues that abound in our time. New bishops need to be able to cast and communicate a vision for an annual conference that is contextual and hope-filled. Since they lead primarily by influence bishops must have the capacity to relate well with people where they are before leading them into the future. A bishop needs to have adequate gifts for administration and a strong capacity for oversight of a large and diverse group of congregations.