District Cabinet Changes


April 23, 2015

By Fred Koenig

The next Northwest District Superintendent can trace her United Methodist roots back to Maysville UMC. Those roots run much deeper than her own experience. “I was a sixth-generation member of Maysville,” Rev. Cindy Buhman said.
    
That was her home church until she started seminary, which came later in life for Buhman than it does for some. She was 40 years old when she started her theological education at Saint Paul School of Theology. 
    
“I have such high regard for laity, because I was a lay member so long myself,” Buhman said. “Our laity are the lifeblood of the church.” 
    
The first week of April, Bishop Schnase announced Buhman’s upcoming appointment to the cabinet. 
    
“Rev. Buhman has offered excellent pastoral leadership in the Northwest District, knows the churches, loves ministry, and has earned the respect and support of her clergy peers through her work as a mentor and her service on the Board of Ordained Ministry and the District Committee on Ministry,” Bishop Schnase said. “Savannah United Methodist Church has grown by more than 50 percent in attendance during the five years of her leadership, and Cindy successfully prepared for the relocation of First UMC, Bethany, that followed her appointment there. Cindy will be an asset to the cabinet and to the District, and I look forward to working with her.”
    
Buhman earned a Bachelor’s of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and went to work for a county newspaper. She worked to establish the pre-school at Maysville UMC, and then focused most of her attention on raising her three sons. She was active in the United Methodist Women, at the local church, District and Conference level. She attended Saint Paul School of Theology from 1996 – 2000, and was ordained in 2003. She has been appointed to Winston, Stanberry, Ashland, Bethany and Savannah, all in the Northwest District. 
    
“I know the area well, and have many friends here,” she said. “I have a real passion for rural ministry and smaller churches.” 
    
Buhman has been serving on the Board of Ordained Ministry and chairs the Northwest District Committee on Ministry. She has served as a mentor at the Conference Candidacy Summit, and mentors in other capacities. There are seven people in her district who are now serving churches who came out of churches Buhman was serving. 
    
Rev. Steve Cox, current District Superintendent, announced his plans to retire after more than forty years of ministry. “Steve has done excellent work as a pastor, a conference director, and a District Superintendent. His thoughtful analysis, good humor, and keen insight into the dynamics of churches will be missed on the cabinet. He has been instrumental in merging the former Pony Express and Heartland North Districts.” 

When Jim Simpson’s grandfather saw him all dressed up in his wedding picture, Simpson reminded him of an evangelist from Tennessee, so he told his grandson he ought to be a preacher. 
    
Simpson was taken aback. Sure, he had grown up in Trinity UMC in downtown Kansas City, and had served as a youth director, but being a youth director hadn’t exactly convinced him that a career in ministry was the way to go. But his Grandfather’s words stuck with Simpson, or as he puts it, infected him like a virus. Soon he found himself at Saint Paul School of Theology, following a call to ministry, rather than following a different path with his political science degree from the University of Missouri Kansas City. 
    
That was nearly 40 years ago. His appointment history includes Grain Valley, Oakland, Clair, Mount Washington, Harrisonville, St. Luke’s (Kansas City), Christ (Independence) and Central (Kansas City). Except for Clair in St. Joseph, all of the churches are in the Heartland District, the area over which Simpson will soon be serving as District Superintendent. Simpson received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Saint Paul School of Theology in Christian formation and spiritual direction in 1981.
    
The last week of March Bishop Robert Schnase has announced the appointment of Rev. Jim Simpson to serve as District Superintendent of the Heartland District, which includes churches of the former Heartland Central and Heartland South Districts. 
    
“Jim has served congregations in the Heartland District with effectiveness and fruitfulness for many years,” Bishop Schnase says, “and he has earned the respect of colleagues for his integrity, thoughtfulness, commitment, and for his ministry of encouragement. He brings excellent administrative skills and knowledge of the conference to the role of superintendency, and I look forward to his work on the cabinet.” 
    
This will be Simpson’s first appointment outside of a local church. He has served on the Missouri Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the Conference Finance and Administration Team, and has been active on several district leadership teams. 
    
“Spiritual direction is a passion within my ministry, and has been since the early 80s,” Simpson said. He currently serves on the Soul Connection Team. 
    
True to his Kansas City roots, Simpson enjoy blues and jazz. He also enjoys poetry, and has considered himself a lifelong “frustrated poet”.
    
Rev. Kendall Waller, who has served as District Superintendent of the Heartland District for the past two years has accepted the appointment to serve as senior pastor of Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, beginning in July, following the announcement of Rev. Amy Gearhart’s request for Sabbatical Leave to pursue graduate studies at the University of Missouri.
    
“Kendall has done excellent work uniting the two Heartland districts, supporting pastors and consulting with churches,” Bishop Schnase said, “and we will miss his creativity and strategic thinking on the cabinet. However, his passion and love for leading congregations, his excellent preaching, his track record of growth, and his positive leadership will serve him well as he returns to the role of senior pastor.”