Beginning July 1, Connectional Ministries office will have new model of organization and operation


By Lane Gardner Camp, Director of Communications

The Connectional Ministries office of the Memphis Conference of The United Methodist Church will follow a new model of organization and operation beginning July 1.
Bishop William T. (Bill McAlilly), resident bishop for the Memphis Conference, made the announcement to affected staff last week.
The organizational changes are compelled by the July 1 retirement of Connectional Ministries Director Dr. Joe Geary, a reduction in the conference budget and the need to “adapt” as the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences move toward a possible new combined conference to begin operation in 2021, said McAlilly.
Rather than appoint a Connectional Ministries director to succeed Geary, McAlilly has named Dr. Richard Clark, Tennessee River District superintendent and dean of the Memphis Conference cabinet, to “lead” the Connectional Ministries office with the work load to be shared by the four district superintendents and conference staff.
Much of the division of labor among the district superintendents is based on geography, explained McAlilly, who praised the district superintendents and staff for their willingness to “step up” and ease the conference through a transition period.
Other conference personnel and job responsibilities remain mostly unchanged. All are listed at the end of this article.
Praise for Dr. Joe Geary
McAlilly praised Geary for his work as director of Connectional Ministries over the last five years.
“Dr. Geary has been instrumental in guiding the work of the Memphis Conference with emphasis on discipleship and mission,” said McAlilly, who cited Geary’s leadership, among other things, with the Memphis Conference’s Generative Leadership Academy (GLA) that equips local church leaders for ministry in and through congregations.
“Through this formational GLA experience,” said McAlilly, “persons ground discipleship theologically and experientially with a focus on leading in the local churches from within their spiritual gifts.” 
McAlilly emphasized Geary’s “passion for mission” in the Memphis Conference and beyond, mentioning the many mission teams he has taken to Mexico and other parts of the world. “He has encouraged others to deepen their lives for the sake of the Gospel across the world.” 
Geary has guided the work of Connectional Ministries during what McAlilly calls “a season when resources have diminished.”
McAlilly commended Geary’s “creativity and wise stewardship” that have helped the Memphis Conference move forward “to empower congregations to increase their capacity to make disciples.”  
Connectional Ministries - Staff 

  • Dr. Richard Clark will lead the office, assisted by the other three district superintendents: Dr. Cynthia Davis, Dr. Rob Martin and Dr. Deborah B. Smith. 
  • Lane Gardner Camp will continue as director of communications. 
  • Robbin McCoy will continue to handle administrative work. 
  • Delores Smith, administrative assistant in the Tennessee River District, will lead the 2020 Annual Conference Planning Team and assist in other administrative tasks.
  • Elyse Bell will continue as director of missional engagement and guide the Generative Leadership Academy and Volunteers in Mission. 1-1-20 UPDATE: Employment/position ended Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Helen Bond will continue as receptionist until her anticipated retirement in December 2019. 1-1-20 UPDATE: Employment/position ended Dec. 31, 2019.
Connectional Ministries - Adjunct Staff 
  • Rev. Roger Hopson will continue as African American church strategist. 
  • Rev. Amanda Crice and Rev. Amanda Hartmann Westmoreland will continue to lead youth ministry. 
  • Rev. Robert Craig will continue to lead the disaster response ministry. 
  • Susan Davidson will continue to lead lay servant ministries. 
  • Dr. Tom Laney will lead Academy of Coaching and Leadership – Local Pastors. 
Connectional Ministries’ Responsibilities of District Superintendents
Dr. Richard Clark (Tennessee River District) - LEAD
  • Trustees
  • Board of Pensions and Clergy Wellness
  • Wesley Foundations of University of Memphis Lambuth Campus and Bethel University
  • Lenten Hunger Offering
  • Lambuth Scholarship
Dr. Cynthia Davis (Mississippi River District)
  • Reelfoot Rural Ministries
  • Conference Finance and Administration
  • Board of Laity
  • Disaster Response
  • Wesley Foundation of University of Tennessee at Martin
Dr. Rob Martin (Purchase District)
  • Board of Ordained Ministry
  • Board of Higher Education and Ministry
  • Lakeshore Camp and Retreat Center
  • Western Kentucky United Methodist Family Services
  • Area Hispanic Ministry
  • Wesley Foundation of Murray State University
Dr. Deborah B. Smith (Metro District)
  • United Methodist Neighborhood Centers
  • Wesley Foundations of University of Memphis and University of Tennessee Health Science Center 
  • Hannah’s Hope
  • Church and Society Team
Mission of the Memphis Conference
... to Discover, Equip, Connect and Send lay and clergy leaders who shape congregations that offer Jesus Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time.