More than four years ago, Bishop Lowry asked me to step into the role of Executive Director of the Smith Center for Evangelism, Mission, and Church Growth (Mission was added later). This was after one year as District Superintendent of the North District and 21 years as pastor of First Methodist Mansfield.
In that first week as Executive Director, I began writing a weekly eNote encouraging and resourcing local churches as much as I was able. My heart was, is, and will be with the local church. Since then, I estimate that I have sent out more than 200 eNotes. I hope a few have been helpful.
In this last eNote, I do not intend on marking the other things that have been navigated by the Center and our staff. I hope we have done a good job in supporting and resourcing the local church, especially around Church Growth and Evangelism. My goal has especially been to create a Center that supported your life and mission rather than asking the local church to support a Conference Center. I hope we have done that. I certainly offer tremendous appreciation to those that have partnered with me on the Center’s team, especially Meg Witmer-Faile, our Associate Director, and Cindi Blackburn the Executive Assistant for the Center, and to all the ministries and leaders that have been under the umbrella of our Center.
It has been an honor to work weekly with Bishop Lowry and my Cabinet friends. Each Cabinet meeting began with worship, at midday we had another worship time, and when the day was completed, we worshiped together again. We also had weekly Cabinet Class meetings where we gathered for prayer and accountability. We prayed for our churches, church leaders, and pastors consistently. The Cabinet emails and text messages were filled with celebrations of what our churches were doing and special prayers for pastors and congregations going through a difficult season. Prayer has driven our work.
As most know, Bishop Lowry asked me to become the Senior Pastor of First Grapevine beginning August 1. After the then East District Superintendent, Dr. Randy Wild, consulted with the PPR and leadership of the church, and after my spouse, Rhonda, and I prayed about the possibility, we both felt God was leading us to say yes. (Please pray for the previous Sr. Pastor, Travis Franklin, a friend to so many of us who had to step down due to medical issues). Pray for us as well as we step back into a Senior Pastor role in one of the great churches in the CTC.
You probably also know that Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory has been appointed as the new Center Executive Director for Evangelism, Mission and Church Growth. Her leadership in the South and Central District Area has been exceptional as she supported and resourced local churches of every size in the life and mission we are all called to. This next step will give her the opportunity to step into a broader role that will allow her many gifts and graces to impact the entire conference. Please pray for her as she leads into this transition.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take some of the things I have learned through the years and apply them in this unique season God has given us all.
Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director
Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth