The executive directors of The Wesleyan Church's (TWC) service divisions bring varied backgrounds and skill sets to each of their roles. Despite their individuality, the executive directors are united; it’s impossible to ignore how each one glows with passion for their work in the church.
As General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt emphasized during the 14th General Conference, over the next few years, TWC will continue to live in courageous pursuit of the mission. Wesleyans across North America and beyond are working as a Kingdom Force Unleashed to transform lives, churches and communities through the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ.
At TWC’s headquarters in Indiana, the five service divisions will pursue the mission in unique ways, as each executive director interprets it through the lens of their passions and roles. Communication & Administration (C&A) Executive Director Janelle Vernon says that “the theme for the next four years involves sustaining effective strategies while enhancing the ways we serve the church.” This holds true for each division.
For C&A, Janelle explains, “We’re going to continue to give testimony to where the Holy Spirit is working in TWC and explore fresh ways of communicating our Wesleyan identity and theology.” As Communication, the division “will continue to elevate trusted and emerging Wesleyan voices.” As Administration, they will continue equipping TWC to see people Made New.
While C&A takes care of the language side of TWC, the General Treasurer’s Office (GTO) looks after the numbers. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Kevin Batman explains his team’s job is to steward two of TWC’s key resources: money and technology. “The church is trying to get somewhere,” he says, “and our role, and my role, is to help the church get there.”
After 15 years of service as general treasurer/CFO, Kevin is excited to continue his work. “I love The Wesleyan Church. I love pastors and I love churches,” he says. The GTO is continually streamlining their processes. The resolution of legacy issues and updating technology gives Kevin and his team greater opportunity to support districts, churches and missionaries.
GTO plans to keep finding better ways to steward the money and information they manage, continually “moving money toward the mission.”
Global Partners (GP) Executive Director Rev. Dr. Dennis Jackson is thrilled that Everywhere to Everywhere is so central to Dr. Schmidt’s vision. GP gives global focus to TWC’s mission, sending missionaries and facilitating connection between international churches and leaders. “The global work has to be done by the global church,” says Dr. Jackson, and he believes the North American church could learn a lot from the international church.
GP’s goal for the upcoming years is twofold. Dr. Jackson says the mission will involve cheering on international churches as they join the Everywhere-to-Everywhere movement. Simultaneously, it’ll involve the North American church continuing to embrace its responsibility to send missionaries to the four in 10 people across the world without access to the gospel. This is the broadest fulfillment of the Wesleyan vision of having a transforming presence in every community.
I would love to see every church in some way contributing to another church being started.
Newly elected Executive Director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship (CMAD) Rev. Dr. Ed Love points out that wrapped up in the vision — celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies itself until there is a transforming presence in every ZIP code — is the Great Commission. CMAD’s “purpose is to see more and better disciples making disciples, leaders reproducing leaders and churches reproducing churches.”
Since a teenager, Dr. Love has felt a strong calling to help the church grow. Despite only becoming the CMAD executive director a few months ago, he’s been multiplying churches and discipling believers for years. He has never considered discipleship and multiplication to be separate endeavors. To Dr. Love, disciple-making initiatives are “the foundation of church multiplication.”
CMAD will continue developing resources to help the church multiply, transforming lives and communities. Dr. Love states he would “love to see every church in some way contributing to another church being started.” He believes it’s a critical time for our culture and our church and shares, “we have this beautiful theology that calls us into the darkness, calls us into the hard places of the culture, to bring a transforming presence there.”
The last of the five divisions, Education and Clergy Development, also had a new executive director elected at General Conference. As a pastor’s kid from Costa Rica whose family served as missionaries in multiple places, Rev. Johanna Rugh has always been close to ministry, which has led her to see ministry opportunities in many areas. “Wherever you see a need, you work,” she says.
When asked about her passions, Rev. Rugh states, “As Christians, we are called to bring that justice that comes from the message of the gospel.” She’s passionate about supporting pastors however possible, particularly encouraging women in ministry and equipping the Hispanic church. She wants pastors to know that TWC highly respects and values them, and her team works to provide resources and promote wellness among pastors.
As Christians, we are called to bring that justice that comes from the message of the gospel.
Going forward, she says, “I hope that we can continue being a beacon of hope to somebody that doesn’t know Jesus.” The other directors echo this sentiment. Our mission is to carry out the Great Commission. And as Dr. Love points out, “we’re not manufacturing anything new; we’re just drawing people to Jesus’ vision.”
Reflecting on the direction TWC will be taking over the next four years, several of the directors recalled a moment from General Conference when the gathered delegates made a unanimous affirmation of belief. Dr. Jackson said, “I think when we declared our faith together at General Conference, it was a turning point, it was a reminder. We are who we are; let’s continue to be that.”