Tasha Stephens

Church Name: Grace (Lee's Summit)

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

I was raised in another denomination and drawn to Methodism in my late 20s as part of a new church start. I quickly learned that the church's success took both a lot of prayer, and a lot of "all hands on deck." In my time in the church, I have held many titles such as PPR chair, Missions chair, church Lay Leader, Conference Lay Delegate at large (Heartland district), church Lay Delegate to Conference, Administrative Council chair and district Lay Servant Ministries director. But leadership really comes from a person's ability to convey Jesus' love and grace by they way they live. That's what leads others to Jesus Christ. We all fall short of living this out on a minute-to-minute basis, but God's grace allows me to get back up and try again. In my secular life, I have been in charge of consumer media relations for a national physician organization, I have chaired Lone Jack Education Foundation since 2014, run the school food backpack program year-round, and volunteer in the community.

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

Faith development has changed and grown as my understanding of Christ has deepened. For me, it starts with prayer before my feet hit the floor each morning, and before I fall asleep at night. And with all of the time in the car, God and I talk often, hopefully with me listening more than talking. I keep current with LSM training/webinars, and I have three covenant people in my life who keep me accountable and pray for me and I for them. I am currently involved with a pilot study of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. I feel a call on my life to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ and am open to whatever God has for me, and have tried to learn the fruit of patience as I wait for Him to use me or set me aside for this season. In this growth, I know I have seen God's work through me and in me - something I probably took for granted before I understood the importance of prayer and discernment.

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

I have three children who love God, love their family, love the world as they know it, and need a safe, loving place in the church. I learn from them every day, seeing the world through their eyes. This world needs the United Methodist Church and we need people who are looking forward to what the church can and should be. As a person not raised as Methodist, I know what it felt like as a child to be excluded to the table of communion because I wasn't baptized, and told that I wasn't born to pastor because of my gender. We need new thoughts, ideas and people who maybe haven't been involved at the conference level in the past, to help us set the path forward in whatever shape that takes. We need people who love God and their neighbors, can respect others and their thoughts, prayers and opinions, and who are committed to working together for the greater good.

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”?

I try to live out my life in a way that shows the love and grace of Jesus Christ. I have met people who just show God's light in them and I'm drawn to them. In that way, we lead others to Jesus, fulfilling the mission. We are all created by God in a unique and beautiful way. Believing that, living out life through that lens, and being deep in the bible as a the guide, will help me be a quality delegate to General Conference.

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?

Episcopal leaders need to not just academically understand the words of God, but must live those words. Leaders need discernment, humility, vision, and possess the ability to understand broken people living in a broken world. They also need to be able to respectfully disagree, engage and partner with other leaders, keeping the mission front and center.