Missouri Bishop Bob Farr announced today that he intends to appoint Rev. Sharon L. Williams as Associate Director of Mission Service & Justice beginning August 1. Rev. Dr. Lucas Endicott has also been promoted to Associate Director effective immediately. Rev. Williams’s hiring and Rev. Endicott’s promotion are intended to replace the role of the Director of Mission, Service & Justice. Rev. Tina L. Harris has decided to take personal leave following the appointive year.
“I plan to take a year of personal study, prayer and reflection,” said Harris. “After transitioning the team, I plan to move back to my hometown of Galesburg, Illinois. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Missouri churches and discovering ways to connect through mission, service and justice ministries.”
“After Tina shared with me her desire to step away from ministry for a year, I thought that Sharon might be a good fit for our team,” said Bishop Farr. “I worked with Sharon during my time as a church developer. Her commitment to justice ministries and experience working with the Historic Black Church and church development seemed like a good fit for our current Conference needs.”
Currently pastor of Bethel United Methodist Church in Pike Township of Indianapolis, Williams previously served as Associate Director for Church Development for the Indiana Conference for six years. As a church developer, Williams helped lead conference strategies for launching and sustaining new faith communities, as well as transforming existing congregations. Together with her colleagues, she successfully launched the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ) process and has facilitated more than 40 consultations in Indiana, Michigan and Missouri.
Prior to joining the Indiana Conference, she served as an associate pastor of Word Tabernacle Church, a congregation committed to making an impact in the predominantly African American community in Eastern North Carolina. In addition to her church planting experience, the bilingual Williams has also served as a missionary. She partnered with American Baptist Churches USA to lead the first Spanish-speaking church start in Bluefields, Nicaragua.
“I look forward to receiving the baton and building on the strengths of Rev. Tina Harris’ excellent ministry to the Missouri Conference,” said Williams. “One way I hope to do this is by serving
collaboratively and creatively to further the MSJ vision for helping people connect with Christ and the Church within a culture of just relationships.”
Since mission and justice ministries are among the primary ways churches connect with one another, Bishop Farr has restructured the Conference staff so that Williams and Endicott report to Rev. Kim Jenne, Director of Connectional Ministries. The structural change aims to help equip local congregations in the areas of social justice and missional service while freeing up Williams and Endicott to be in the mission field rather than in meetings. Sidney Owens, Community Engagement Specialist, continues work in this area focused on Festival of Sharing and the Rural Missouri Connection. According to Bishop Farr, it became quite apparent through the conversations with Conference and district staff that, in the areas of social justice ministries, more feet are needed on the ground, not less.
Following the resignation of Joyce Appel as Disaster Readiness and Response Coordinator on March 13, Bishop Farr also moved Disaster Response to Conference Director Jeff Baker’s portfolio. Together, with Scott Burdin, they will prepare the Conference for the coming spring disaster season. Appel has enrolled at Saint Paul School of Theology and has accepted a new position as Program Director for Latin American partnerships with The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.