An Extension of Ministry
Ordained ministers may be appointed to serve in ministries that extend the ministry of the local United Methodist church. Elders in such appointments remain within the itinerancy and are accountable to the annual conference. Deacons and diaconal ministers may also serve in extension ministries.
Those in extension ministries can serve in leadership roles within the Missouri Conference structure, such as directors or district superintendents. They can also soldiers in the military, full-time employees at a hospital, chaplains in a prison and a number of other ministries.
After Rev. Dustin Cooper had been pastor at Red Bridge UMC in Kansas City for about 10 years, he knew sensed his time of pastoral leadership there was drawing to a close. What he didn’t know was what was next.
Cooper had been in a local church pastor role since he was first graduated from high school sophomore year in college. He went into prayer about what he was being called to do, took a sabbatical, and spent some time at the monastery at Maryville. At the Cokesbury bookstore at Annual Conference, he picked up a book called
“Hearing God’s Call: Ways of Discernment for Laity and Clergy” which identified signs of when God may be calling a person into a different role of ministry. Reading this book during his time apart, he grew more assured that God was calling him to a new place to serve the church.
How to Know When You Are Being Called to a New Ministry
“I knew I was called to ministry, I just didn’t know what form it should take,” Cooper said. The Rev. Dustin Cooper has been in ministry for more than 35 years. For the first 25 years, he served as a local church pastor with a great record of evangelism and stewardship. As a pastor, he led six major capital efforts and several building campaigns.
Over the last eleven twelve years of his ministry, Dustin has been consulting in churches throughout the United States on issues of Christian financial stewardship. As a Senior Vice President and Partner at Horizons Stewardship, his passion has been and continues to be helping pastors and church leaders respond to fulfilling the vision of making disciples of Jesus Christ in their church’s ministry.
Cooper’s role in extension ministry in the financial world is more of the exception than the norm. There are two other roles that would be considered the norm, if there is such a thing: Conference leadership and hospital chaplains.
Elmer Revelle was a pastor at local churches from 1968 to 1994. In 1994 he was asked by Bishop Ann Shearer to serve as Conference Council Director, and that position later became the Director of Connectional Ministries. In 2003 he was appointed Mid-State District Superintendent. In 2011 he retired but started working part-time as assistant to the Bishop, a role that has commonly been filled by retired district superintendents in the Missouri Conference. So for those of you who are counting…
“I still served as pastor of a local church longer than I served in extension ministry,” Revelle said. By three years – 26 versus 23.
Revelle always expected to serve as pastor, although at some point in filling out ordination papers, when the blank asked if he would consider any positions outside of pastoring a church, he filled in Council Director.
“It looked like an opportunity to work with a very wide scope of ministry,” Revelle said.
The first time Revelle wasn’t leading a worship service on Christmas Eve was going to be hard for him, but his friend Rev. David Kerr saw that coming and asked him to be part of leading worship with him. It took some adapting to get used to the Conference year cycle, which begins and ends with Annual Conference, instead of a liturgical year, centered around Advent and Lent.
While serving as Council Director of the Missouri East Conference in St. Louis, Revelle asked his wife, Diana, to pick their church and that would be his charge conference. They went with Ellisville UMC (now called Living Word). There his role in the church was just as any other lay member, although he did fill in for the choir director once. And he served Festus in a preaching role for several months, and filled in as pastor in Eureka for a while when their pastor suddenly died.
“I think my role in extension ministry was easier than many (extension ministers) because I still related to the Bishop as my immediate supervisor and was connected to the Conference in everything I did,” Revelle said. Many people in extension ministry are living in a whole different world, with different supervisory chains, rules and expectations.
While serving at the Missouri Conference Center in Columbia, Revelle has been active at Missouri UMC, in roles like playing in the hand bell choir.
Being a clergy spouse of a clergy person serving in extension ministry hasn’t given Diana a pass on the clergy spouse role. Quite the opposite, it has often amped it up. The during times of transition of staff positions, the Missouri Conference has often looked to Diana as the world’s most knowledgeable temp, and asked her to fill in at numerous Conference staff positions until someone else can be hired, which extended for several months at times.
Evelyn Summers was a member of North Cross United Methodist Church and an unpaid intern at Good Shepherd when she first answered her call to ministry. She was also working full-time as a banking officer at UMB. From her experience at Good Shepherd, she knew she wanted to provide a wide spectrum of care.
She became an ordained elder and a certified chaplain. She met the standards of the American Certification of Chaplains Association, which calls for a year of full-time chaplaincy, taking night calls, doing educational experiences and peer review, a masters of divinity and approval by your religious affiliation, 2,000 hours of work, and analysis of verbatim counseling sessions.
She started out serving as a chaplain one night a week and wanted to go full-time.
“I loved serving the church in a parish, but this is where God wants me,” she said.
The Catholic hospital Summers was working for was sold to a not-for-profit Catholic association and was later sold to a for-profit group called Prime. It agreed to keep a spiritual care component in place. They did so, but two of the five chaplains had their jobs eliminated. Summers dropped back to working on an hourly basis but still works a lot of hours at two different hospitals. Last year she retired at Annual Conference Session, but she continues to work as a chaplain.
“I believe those serving in extension ministry are the true children of the ministry of John Wesley,” Summers said. “Wesley said the world is our parish. We are working out in the world every day. My church is everyone in this hospital.”
Chaplains are trained to provide the sources of support a patient needs, beyond the chaplain’s own faith tradition.
Summers has baptized people in the hospital, while urging them to become part of a faith community when they get home from the hospital. She has also baptized people in the hospital in who didn’t make it home.
Summers once did a wedding in an Intensive Care Unit room, so that the father, who wasn’t going to make it home, could be part of his daughter’s wedding. Later the couple asked her to do a renewal of the vows ceremony at a more public location.
When one patient was in cardiac arrest, and his care team ended up working on him for an extended time, Summers served as the go-between from the hospital staff to the family because the doctors couldn’t take a break to provide updates.
Once in a hospice care situation, a patient found peace by singing old hymns with Summers. Later when the family was gathered around the patient in the end, she shared this with the family, and they all started singing Amazing Grace. The patient died before the song was over.
Summers was raised Southern Baptist, and converted to Catholicism. She left the Catholic church when she married someone who had been divorced. She was invited by a friend to sing in the choir at North Cross United Methodist Church. Rev. Ken Lutgen convinced her to join. The more she learned about Methodism, the more she liked it.
“Wesley’s stages of grace are very important to me,” she said. “I’ve been given such grace, I want to do everything I can to help extend God’s grace to others.”
Rev. Lisa M. Scott-Joiner is part of the Spiritual Care Administration Team at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. She is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Eden Theological Seminary. She has over 25 years of pastoral and chaplaincy experience in both parish, community outreach and hospital settings.
For Scott-Joiner, being a chaplain doesn’t stop her from being a very active part of the United Methodist Church at large. She serves on the General Board of Higher Education Ministry and recently attended a board meeting at Africa University in Zimbabwe. She offers the following account:
By Rev. Lisa Scott-Joiner
Africa University is 25 Years old! As an endorsed chaplain member of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church, I had the rare privilege of being invited along with this entire diverse board of directors, The General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, cabinet members and staff, to attend this milestone celebration in Zimbabwe. This trip was an amazing experience for me to see firsthand the impact of the United Methodist Church embodying Jesus Christ in real ways that are truly meaningful to residents.
Africa University’s inception began with the 1988 General Conference mandate for such an educational institution to be built to meet the Pan-African need for quality education and also to continue the missional witness of Christ that had been imprinted for over 150 years. Several annual conferences made the journey to celebration as well to present extra mile giving and endowments to ensure Africa University’s ongoing growth and financial stability.
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Board (GBHEM) held its spring meeting March 19-27 in both Johannesburg, South Africa and Mutare, Zimbabwe (Africa University). During its meeting, board members had the opportunity to also tour two thriving United Methodist mission sites in Zimbabwe- Mutare United Methodist Mission and Nyadire United Methodist Mission. The Mutare United Methodist Mission is on land obtained by Bishop Joseph Hartzell in late 1890s. The Nyadire United Methodist Mission has both a hospital and teacher’s college in addition to housing for over 2,800 children of all ages.
These mission sites, Africa University and other institutions supported through apportionment giving are used for real needs. Through collaborative partnerships with government, Africa University, its board of directors and other benefactors, Africa University as private faith-based institution is still evolving. The challenges are real economic realities for Zimbabwe, 90 percent of its population is unemployed and 15 percent of its GDP is agricultural. Yet, Africa University attracts students from not only Zimbabwe but from other African countries including the Congo, Angolo and Liberia.
Africa University continues to be a great beacon of United Methodism and the embodiment of Jesus Christ—faith in action materialized to our brothers and sisters across the world! Wow, it’s real and incredible!
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry is the leadership development agency of the United Methodist Church with a mission to prepare global leaders for a global church and the world. Learn more at http://www.gbhem.org.