Unification Consultation Team

Unification Consultation Process and Consultant Team Announced
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and clergy and lay leadership across the UMC Conferences in Texas believe that the reshaping of Conference boundaries is inevitable due to the many organizational, cultural and economic challenges facing The United Methodist connection, such as effectively reengaging in and with local communities following the COVID-19 shutdown, churches disaffiliating from the denomination and shifting migration patterns. It is also widely believed that the boundaries in Texas will be reshaped by the 2024 South Central Jurisdictional Conference.
In an effort to proactively address these inevitabilities, Bishop Saenz has announced a consultation process to work toward unifying the Central, North and, possibly, Northwest Texas Conferences beginning in June 2023. This consultation process is intended to help determine how to best reorganize to better disciple existing members and reach new people for Christ using adaptive, effective, and innovative 21st-century best practices. The recommendations will also prepare us to move forward as a unified conference immediately after the South Central Jurisdictional Conference adopts new boundaries in 2024.
The Central and North Texas Annual Conferences - along with North Texas should it be determined that unifying all three conferences is missionally best - must first approve the unification proposal before it is presented to the Jurisdictional Boundaries Committee in 2024.
Lisa Gafford of the Central Texas Conference, Tim Griffy from North Texas and Randy Stutes from the Northwest Texas Conference will co-manage the assessment phase and will work with independent consultant John Wimberly, a member of the Congregational Consulting Group . John will conduct the conference assessment and organizational design proposal. Brief bios of each are below. Their reports and recommendations will be ready by October 1.

Unification Consultation Team

Lisa Gafford, Central Texas

Lisa is a native of New Mexico but has called Fort Worth “home” for 43 years. She has have been married to Eugene Gaby for 27 years and is the proud mother of a 25-year-old son, David, and a 23-year-old daughter, Alyssa. Lisa has worked at Lockheed Martin (previously General Dynamics) for over 38 years, mostly in software engineering and design, but, most recently, contracts management, where she is a Proposal Manager for sole source acquisitions with the U.S. Air Force. She also worked for 14 years as an adult education instructor for Fort Worth ISD. 
Lisa has been a member of First United Methodist Church Fort Worth for a year. She previously attended and served at Alliance UMC for a few years, but most of her church service was with Ridglea UMC, where she held positions as finance chair, treasurer, and PSPR chair, sang in the chancel choir and was very active in the children’s and youth ministries programs, including being an active participant in three youth mission trips. Her spiritual gift is Administration, but singing fills her soul more than anything. While, not yet a member of the FUMCFW choir, she hopes to be so soon. 
Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Psychology/Applied Management and an MBA with a concentration in engineering management.

Tim Griffy, North Texas

Tim is a lifelong Methodist, and has been a member of First UMC Richardson for 38 years.  He has served in various capacities at FUMCR, including chairing the Church Council, leading capital campaigns, and active involvement in the church’s partnerships with Richardson public schools.
Tim is also currently a member of the North Texas Conference’s Finance and Administration Committee.  
After his retirement from a 35 year career with Ernst & Young, Tim has been active in civic and volunteer activities including membership on the Boards of Methodist Health Systems, the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, Southeastern Guide Dogs, and the Business School at Rice University.  
Tim and his wife Missy have two children and one grandchild.

Randy Stutes, Northwest Texas

Randy currently serves as the Northwest Texas Conference Lay Leader.

Randy graduated from East Chambers High School in Winnie, Texas, followed by attendance and graduation from Lon Morris College in 1983 and Southwestern University in 1985. Each of the four summers during those college years found him serving as a youth director at churches in the Texas Conference. He married Ann Brashear in 1986 and she is currently the dean of the School of Music at Wayland Baptist University. He taught math and coached cross-country for 29 years at both junior high and senior high levels, and currently teaches Algebra II and Pre-Calculus at Hart JH/HS.

Since moving to West Texas in 1992, Randy and Ann were members at Petersburg FUMC for 15 years and are presently members at Plainview FUMC for the last 12 years. Randy has taught adult Sunday School classes for the last 25 years, served on various committees, and been a delegate to Annual Conference for more than 15 years. Prior to accepting the Conference Lay Leader position, he served as Lubbock District Lay Leader for 2 ½ years and Annual Conference Secretary for 3 years.

John Wimberly, CCG

John served congregations for 38 years, thirty of those years at Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. John’s quest for continuing personal, spiritual and professional growth led him to complete a PhD in systematic theology and an Executive MBA program. The latter program generated a sense of call to highlight the need for good business practices in the business side of a congregation’s life. He wrote and leads seminars on his highly praised book, The Business of the Church: The Uncomfortable Truth that Faithful Ministry Requires Effective Management. He consults with congregations on issues such as the creation and implementation of strategic plans, congregational growth and the empowering use of endowments.