Michael Sykuta

Church Name: Community (Columbia)

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

I have served in a variety of leadership roles in my local church, from small group leader to Administrative Council chair, and even as (interim) director of youth ministry throughout 2017. 

At the District level, I have served as Director Lay Speaking (now Lay Servant) Ministries, served on the District Superintendent’s executive leadership team, and currently serve on the District Church Location and Building team. I also continue to serve as a Lay Servant and occasionally fill pulpit supply as requested.

I currently serve on the Conference Lay Ministries Team and on the Conference Episcopacy Committee. I was a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 2008, and served on the General Conference delegation in 2012 as the first lay alternate. I served one quadrennium (2009-12) on the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

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 try to practice Wesley’s means of grace as a way of growing in and strengthening my faith. I participate in a weekly study and accountability group, regular Bible study, and prayer. I participate regularly in corporate worship and the sacraments. I read a variety of things ranging from personal spiritual formation to leadership development to church growth, whether books or online blogs.

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

I have been an active member in the United Methodist Church since my youth. Right now, the United Methodist Church is at a crossroads. Having witnessed first-hand General Conference in 2012 and following closely General Conference 2016 and the Special Session in 2019, it is easy to feel a sense of despair and frustration with the state of our denomination. I have been praying for some time whether I have the desire to be in the midst of that and whether I can make a difference. I believe that my experience, perspective, and ability to have the difficult conversations and live within the tension can help our delegation, as diverse as it will be, work together for the good of the body of 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”?

First and foremost, I would strive to keep the mission of the church as the focal point of all of our work as a delegation and at General Conference. What can we do to reach all people to make disciples of Jesus Christ and transform the world? How will the way we do it affect our ability to reach all people to make disciples of Jesus Christ? Beyond keeping the mission at the forefront, I believe my experience working at all levels of the church and with all ages and ranges of persons, both within the church and throughout my career as a college professor, have equipped me to work with delegates from across Missouri and across the United Methodist connection. Finally, my professional background is in organizational design and leadership. I hope that background can be helpful with the challenges facing our church.

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?

The church needs episcopal leaders whose primary focus is to equip and encourage local congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, starting in their own local communities. That means episcopal leaders should have demonstrated fruitfulness in their local congregations with a track record of making new disciples and leaving the churches they serve stronger—or on a path to becoming stronger—than those churches were before. Episcopal leaders must be able to cultivate, nurture and mentor growth of leaders in their conference, both clergy and laity. Candidates should be able to demonstrate not only a commitment to their own spiritual growth and leadership development, but also evidence of raising up and empowering other leaders, both lay and clergy, in the churches and the conferences they have served.