Faith & Leadership

Describe Your Understanding of the Nature and Mission of the Church

Church is a community of people struggling with and embracing life finding hope and purpose through Jesus while learning to love God and love others. The church at its best is generative in its disciple-making, engaged in the means of grace, working toward justice especially with the poor and marginalized. Jesus’ on earth as it is in heaven goal is nothing less than behaving as if God is leading and loving us toward something bigger than ourselves.

Developing and deploying leaders in our local faith communities is where my energy and interest has been throughout my twenty-five years in pastoral ministry; this is most successful when there is intentional partnership between laity and clergy. The local church and its ministry is the most significant location where disciple-making occurs. It is where we live out our doctrinal standards and theological task. It is where we discover ministry is not the obligation of the licensed or ordained; it is the responsibility, privilege, and joy of all the baptized. It is where we live into our social principles through lives that demonstrate personal piety and social holiness. The mission of the church is about sharing our faith, working for kingdom on earth, and transforming the world.

To that end, our congregations must be committed to being church in their community, with their community, and for their community. This church is a body of people who believe God has a plan for our now and future that requires us to be invitational and partner-minded in our strategic visioning, missionally relevant to what the community needs, and creating ministries both inside and outside the walls of our church that connect people with God's mission and purpose in the world. The understanding of your place in the Connectional church means we join with United Methodists around the world in ministries of mercy, justice, advocacy, compassion, education, disaster response, global health, care of the environment, evangelism, and discipleship.

Share Your Vision for The United Methodist Church

What did Jesus mean when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...I’ve come to bring good news.” What did he do? He spent time with people who were socially excluded. He worked with people who felt they didn’t count – that due to their current condition, they somehow didn’t matter to the community nor to God. Jesus changed that narrative and asks us to do the same. He took on people as his disciples who had been rejected by everybody else. He brought spiritual good news. He brought social good news. He bought physical good news. He brought economic good news. He brought the good news of justice and redemption. He brought the good news that nothing in this world has the power to separate us from the love of God. This vision is what the church is called into at Pentecost and yearns to be doing present-day.

My vision for the church is a body of Christ-followers engaged in serving others and finding wholeness for themselves along the way. The mission of The United Methodist Church helps to transform lives, systems, and communities. The message and ministry of Jesus are supremely relevant. We grieve that not every church embodies this but are confident that the church as Jesus saw it (the community of people following his teaching) has the potential and the power to change the world. Fulfilling that vision begins with local people who know God and learn to love one another – who are committed to serve their local community. God is at work, through the lives of those who gather in Christ’s name, changing the whole world one community at a time.

My fervent prayer of the upcoming General Conference is that the post-separation United Methodist Church will be strengthened and gain an even better posture for mission and ministry. I am grateful for the work of our boards, agencies and commissions and will join with others to ensure their vital ministries are not lost in the necessary reimagining and reconstructing to come. I desire and will work to remove the restrictive language around human sexuality in the Book of Discipline relying on the discernment of local churches and clergy to act with grace and faithfulness in their witness and teaching. I believe the North Central Jurisdiction can be a place where clergy are entrusted and empowered to act with theological integrity and social sensitivity as they each determine who they will marry; a place where all people who are gifted and called to be pastors will be able to enter our licensing and ordination process. I trust every church to self-determine how to honor God and love their neighbors in the ways they bear witness and minister within and beyond their walls.

A distinctive part of the character of United Methodism is that we celebrate that we are a church of individuals who think differently than each other and join together in the same denominational family even as the ministry practices, local policies and theological interpretations differ from church to church and leader to leader. United Methodism going forward will remain a shared home for people who self-identify as traditionalists, centrists, and progressives; a church where all are welcome. Even as we grapple with disaffiliations and separation, I do not fear for our future. My calling is to press on in the good work of the Great Commission (Matthew 28), guided by the Great Commandment (Matthew 22), challenged by the Great Requirement (Micah 6) to live into the Great Invitation (Acts 1 & 2) and by God’s grace I long to do so in the now and future United Methodist Church.

Describe Your Concept and Style of Leadership

Recently, I was reading Job and a passage I had skimmed over in the past beckoned me. It is the scene right before Job’s three friends show up and sit with him in sackcloth and ash. It is the moment when Job’s wife asks, “Are you still clinging to your integrity?” There was plenty going on (dis-ease, disaster, dismay) that could have granted Job permission to choose a different path– but he did not, and we witness in this narrative the many ways he clung to his integrity.

Clinging to integrity is the essence and demonstration of faithful leadership. Integrity grounded in the mission of God, Biblical narrative and Wesleyan identity is the foundation from which I lead. We have all been leading in and through challenging circumstances and many of us have grown weary – not of the mission – but of the tensions and troubles we’ve seen. I beg permission to assert one inviolate truth: Our deep longing for God and for the vital witness of The United Methodist Church will be fulfilled as by God’s grace we stand firm and cling to our deeply rooted spiritual and missional integrity.

As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. John 15:9-12 (CEB)

To remain in Christ’s love, I engage in sacred listening. I have a daily practice where from 4:30-7:30 each morning, I enter sacred, set-apart time. This is my time of day when I shower, center, read, meditate, journal, and pray. This is the most disciplined part of my life - and the most important.

As I stay accountable in my leadership, I ask God three questions every day: “How may I glorify you?”, “How might I point others to Christ?” and (at the end of the day) “Did I love?”. I measure outcomes/actions against the Three Simple Rules and know that God speaks to me in that. I also trust my gut (the Holy Spirit spends time in my guts). Christian conferencing, cohort work, and collaboration are also ways in which I practice leadership; I lead within and with community.

I am an INTJ (Myers Briggs). I am an 3W4 (Enneagram). I am a high D on the DISC Inventory. My Strengthsfinder includes: Ideation, Strategic, Learner, Self-Assurance, Achiever. I am a visionary who is passionate about Jesus, justice, and quality leadership. I am trained in conflict mediation and am skilled in having difficult conversations and doing hard things.

I believe in the fruit of team leadership but am not afraid to step out on my own as priest and prophet when necessary. The task of every spiritual leader is to stay true to your own journey, your unique call, and the values and vision you bring into your leadership. I believe the best way to become a community of transformation is through a willingness to lead together as a spiritual community. Each needs to know their personal core values (mine include: seeing the image of God in all, integrity, loyalty, responsibility, and spiritual connectedness) and the core values of their institution.

My leadership style is guided by the Four Greats of Scripture: The Great Commandment/Shema (Matt. 22:36-60/Deut. 6:4-9); The Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20); The Great Requirement (Micah 6:7-8); and, The Great Invitation (Acts 1 & 2).

Describe Your Gifts and Graces

I am empathetic and compassionate. I cling to my integrity. I am loyal. I am open to other points of view and willing to discern toward consensus with groups/individuals. I am able to come alongside clergy and laity in creating personal development plans for their flourishing in ministry.

I am engaged in meaningful relationships and ministry on the margins – I am compelled to see others who are often overlooked. I can speak the truth in love and see ways to move through log jams of personal preference toward missional priorities. I can build diverse teams that lead well together.

As I reflect on my guiding principles as a disciple and leader in The United Methodist Church, I am unapologetically Wesleyan and so in love with Jesus and his ministry marked by compassion, grace and justice. I have the ability to inspire others to live lives of significance as we work for "kingdom on earth as it is in heaven" through active discipleship as we respond to the suffering in the world. I am committed to developing leaders (clergy and laity) to grow into the very best versions of themselves so that they can be at their very best for God. I am a Gethsemane Christian (John 17): I hear Jesus’ prayer in the garden as a rallying cry for each of us that our strongest desire would be that of connection - connection to God and to each other - and our common identifier would be that of love.

Describe How You Have Experienced the Call to the Episcopacy and How God has Prepared You for the Episcopacy

I have a deep longing to know and serve God, a solid track record of experience with people on the margins, and am committed to leading in and being the church that is fully inclusive, stands against racism, stewards creation care, and confronts injustice in all its forms. I am grateful for the privilege to be engaged in this critical and transformational work and have experienced the outworking's of evangelism and discipleship at their absolute best.

Serving as Assistant to the Bishop and as Director of Clergy & Leadership Excellence has been filled with challenges and possibilities. In Iowa, we moved into a shared relationship with The Dakotas Conference when Bishop Laurie Haller was assigned to two episcopal areas. That brought with it significant adaptive challenges and shared possibilities. We led through the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy, the announcement of a May 1 launch of the GMC, and experienced the heartbreak of disaffiliation conversations while countering misinformation and disinformation being shared about the now and future United Methodist Church. During the pandemic, our leaders grew weary, and some even made decisions that brought harm to self and others. I knew deep in my bones I was doing the work God had called me to do.

None of us anticipated Bishop Haller’s accident in early 2022 that resulted in medical leave. All of us have been grateful for Bishop Deborah Kiesey (ret.) and her leadership during this in-between time. Through it all, I was handed increasingly more ecclesial, administrative and leadership responsibilities and to be honest, I thought there was no way I would ever want to become a bishop on purpose. I have watched episcopal leaders doing their absolute best leading the church in and through some horrible and challenging situations as they guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church. And I was content with and challenged by my roles and responsibilities.

Nonetheless, the wrestling began. My colleagues around the Cabinet table, laity and clergy of the Iowa Conference, and ministry partners from the greater Connection began offering words of encouragement toward discernment. And I remained a hard “No.” And then late in July at Lake Junaluska, I was at a GBHEM event with Directors of Connectional Ministries, District Superintendents, and other leaders from the Connection when in a series of three key moments – I knew I was called for here and now. It was a call that did not guarantee election to the episcopal office – it was a call that asked me to open myself to the process. And to lay aside my doubts. “Why not you? Why not now?” was the whisper that became a shout.

I didn’t grow up in The United Methodist Church. My first decade of life I was in an unchurched home; I knew the poverty and ostracism that came with trailer park living. After my adoption, I was baptized and confirmed in the Presbyterian Church, USA. At the age of ten I received a clear call into ministry. Eventually, I found my way to Morningside College (now Morningside University), which is a United Methodist-related institution and found my spiritual home at nearby Grace United Methodist Church in Sioux City, Iowa. Through a group known as Plowshares, I discovered the both/and joy of personal piety and social holiness. My junior year I enrolled in a class on the unpublished poetry of Charles Wesley and fell in love with grace and the Wesleyan way of thinking about God and the human condition. In my dorm I experienced my own heart-warming moment and shortly thereafter became United Methodist.

After college, I was in the Army – whether I was assigned in the continental U.S. or deployed overseas, I would look for the cross and flame and find my way to my faith community. When I divorced and my daughter was not yet a year old, it was the people of The United Methodist Church who stepped up and modeled acceptance, care, and community.

Throughout my ministry, God has shown up opening doors and asking of me to lead and love. God has consistently given me opportunity to raise up clergy and laity in holiness of heart and life ministries. I have been given the privilege of serving in “turn-around” ministries and am committed to being part of the “turn-around” revisioning and restructuring of an even more vital and vibrant United Methodist future. God has called me into The United Methodist Church and into this moment. I am no longer wrestling; I have no doubt that God has called me to enter this process for such a time as this.

Background and Experience

Continuing Education

PrairieFire – 2021-Present

PrairieFire is a Benedictine-based spiritual formation program for renewing of self and awakening of soul. PrairieFire creates a sacred community of spiritual formation, provides a covenant environment for personal and vocational discernment, and leads to examination of personal beliefs and biases that results in a more meaningful life enriched by a deepening spiritual awareness, new ways of building and contributing to community, and living authentically in an increasingly challenging and unpredictable world.

George Howard Coaching - 2021-Present

George Howard is coaching a cohort of United Methodist Cabinet members from across the Connection increasing our capacity as leaders for adaptive leadership, thoughtful analysis of personal attitudes and institutional structures, guiding participants to revision our practice of ministry within the system of The United Methodist Church.

Reflective Supervision – 2018-Present

GBHEM – Supervisor Developed by Rev. Dr. Jane Leach (Principal of Wesley House, Cambridge) of the British Methodist Church and offered to the United Methodist Church through partnership in a pilot program with GBHEM, Reflective Supervision is a Wesleyan model of supervision that considers oversight and development of clergy as a means of grace and transformation that fully integrates personal and vocational accountability through intellectual engagement, character and spiritual formation, and leadership development.

Sacred Folk (Christena Cleveland, PhD). Liberating the Mind, Body, and Spirit from White Supremacy -2020

Dr. Cleveland guided participants into a model of compassion and liberation of 5 stages of BIPOC racial identity development and 6 stages of white racial identity development resourcing and encouraging transformational pivoting as a spiritual practice with participants maturing in self-compassion and personal responsibility in working toward community and identity as its best.

Hashpa’ah Spiritual Direction - 2018-2021

Hashpa'ah is multi-disciplinary spiritual direction program, integrating diverse spiritual guidance approaches and skills from classic and contemporary schools of training and practice, while emphasizing the legacy of Hashpa’ah that can be found in the literature and praxis of the Jewish mystical tradition. My spiritual director (JaJa) integrated the sacred arts of spiritual and pastoral counseling; personal, intercessory, and communal prayer and ritual; the art of the maggid (storyteller); spiritual approaches to Torah and mitzvot; personal and communal ethical development/mussar, spiritual eldering and other areas of learning.

Clergy Leadership Roundtable with Margaret Marcuson - 2020-2021

This 6-month coaching program for judicatory leaders guides participants to navigate rapidly changing systems, reimagine organizational structures, and respond to emergent situations while leading through liminal times.

Formal Education

Wesley Theological Seminary
Washington, DC

  • DMin - Church Leadership Excellence, 2013

Saint Paul School of Theology
Kansas City, MO

  • MDiv - Specialization in Evangelism, 2001

Morningside University
Sioux City, IA

  • BA - Religious Studies/Political Science, 1989.

Denison Community Schools
Denison, IA,

  • Graduation, 1985.


1997 Local Pastor; Iowa Conference

2002 Provisional Elder; Iowa Conference

2005 Full Member & Elder, Iowa Conference


Ministry Coach - Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and SamaraCare Consulting - 2012-2013

Personal Leadership Coach (GPSS - God, Person, System, Self) applies action driven, results oriented and solution focused support as professionals in ministry addressing the specific, present-moment challenges of ministry. GPSS Leadership Coaches guide individuals and groups to maximize their impact through exploring and expanding vision with increased confidence, competency and commitment. within a system of power, policies, and unwritten practices.

Certified Grief Recovery Specialist

The Grief Recovery Method Certified to facilitate an eight-week Grief Recovery Method support group and/or 12-week outreach program group and/or a seven- session one-on-one program.

Publications, Awards, Honors

Soul-Care and Leadership: For Teams and Individuals. Using the power of story for team building and spiritual direction.

  • Most recently led the Indiana Cabinet in their summer retreat.

Athena Leadership Award, 2015. W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

  • The ATHENA Award is presented for attaining professional excellence, community service and actively assisting women in their achievement of professional excellence and leadership skills through the attributes of: living authentically, learning constantly, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, fostering collaboration, building relationships, giving back and celebrating.

"Bridging: A Ministry Model for Renewal" Thesis (D. Min.)--Wesley Theological Seminary, 2013.

Current Work Experience & Pastoral Appointment

Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church, Des Moines, IA

Assistant to the Bishop - 2021-Current

  • Played a crucial role in the work of the Iowa Appointive Cabinet that resulted in the Leading Now and Into the Future decision granting contextual permissions for marriage. After many months of discernment, the decision of our culturally and theologically diverse cabinet was grounded in the primary desire to live now in a manner that allows every church and every pastor in the Iowa United Methodist Conference to serve God and their communities and honor their deeply held convictions being faithful to who God calls us to be in Christ Jesus, and witnessing to Iowa that there is room for everyone who wants a home in the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church.

  • Developed a robust process around accountable supervision and missional oversight (Supervisory Statement of Understanding) that incorporates six dimensions of development that allows for focused work on one’s fruitfulness in ministry or personal wellness ensuring our pastors who are going through challenges or setbacks are given every opportunity for restorative care through focused interventions and resourcing.

  • I have led from a #BeUMC posture on the discernment and disaffiliation processes in Iowa. I have been an engaged partner with the Board of Trustees, Board of Pensions, Committee on Finance & Administration, and Conference Chancellor as we navigate this challenging time in our denomination.

  • Bishop’s Operational Team – the work of this team of adaptive lay and clergy leaders is to assess systems and practices within the conference disrupting, refocusing, and redesigning our structure as we align resources and responsibilities to become a more healthy conference through three key components: developing spiritual leaders who model a community that loves, learns, and leads together; creating environments that foster transformation; and, directing our resources to establish priorities, practices and processes that bear fruit.

Director of Clergy & Leadership Excellence - 2018-Current

  • Worked with the Kaizen Leadership Team on the design and curriculum of the Iowa Preaching and Worship Institute.

  • Co-facilitator of the Iowa Antiracism Team.

  • Co-developed the Iowa Eight Year Assessment for Clergy Flourishing.

  • Led the Iowa Covid Response

  • Supported and Resourced the Board of Ordained Ministry and Board of Laity

Previous Work Experience & Pastoral Appointment

Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church, Des Moines, IA

Broadway United Methodist Church, Council Bluffs, IA - 2015-2018

  • Lead Pastor; Team Ministry; Downtown Urban Setting

  • Responsible for the pastoral leadership and vision-casting of a downtown congregation in a neighborhood marked by poverty and possibility.

  • Brought together district and conference leadership to set-apart and launch Fe y Esperanza (Spanish speaking ministry) as an independent chartered UMC in a contextually significant, missional location serving Spanish-speaking neighbors.

  • Designed Tuesday Ministry with lay leadership supporting, serving, and resourcing individuals and families in need of housing, food, transportation, education, and health supports. Partnered with community agencies to centralize energy and resources for the work of justice, advocacy, and legislative change.

  • Re-visioned Creation Care ministry including expanding community gardens, launched a church-wide recycle/reuse/reduce monthly ministry resource, offered learning sessions on the biodiversity of Loess Hills and Iowa prairie grounds drawing on diverse approaches for urban and rural stewardship of creation.

First United Methodist Church, Atlantic, IA - 2009-2015

  • Lead Pastor; County Seat Church; midsize staff;

  • Established a local Pacific-Islander ministry with the Chuukese of Micronesia aligning resources for bi-lingual worship, multi-generational ministry, and development of a lay pastor position.

  • Partnered with military veterans of the congregation and community for redemptive and restorative soul-care ministry addressing moral trauma and the tragedy of war.

  • Led the lay leadership team and congregation through the Healthy Church Initiative in partnership with the Iowa Conference as we redesigned the system, structure and services of this local congregation returning to our spiritual DNA and core values that resulted in systemic change, expanded leadership development, and broadened community engagement with strategic partners.

Manning United Methodist Church, Manning, IA - 2005-2009

  • Pastor; Rural Town & Country Ministry; small staff

  • Worked with laity of the congregation and community in developing and designing a recovery ministry that continues to have regional impact

  • Empowered and aligned partnerships between lay leadership, local families, and the school to launch Dynamite Disciples (after-school program) including a lay driven reading program in the local elementary school.

Morningside University, Sioux City, IA - 2002-2005

  • Campus Chaplain / Director of Church Relations; Adjunct Faculty Department of Religious Studies

  • Worked with Student Services to create a diversity, equity & inclusion position

  • Expanded resources for mental health supports for students, staff and faculty

  • Developed a midweek ministry with the Religious Life Council creating opportunities for worship, service, and culture of call

Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Granger, IA - 2000-2002

  • Pastor

  • Created a strategic plan to pay down building debt

  • Designed a student ministry and confirmation program that drew students from the community and church resulting in an intentional and expansive culture of call.

  • Partnered with local faith communities and military chaplains in response to 9-11 that cared for military families as their family members were deployed.

Student Ministry Appointments - 1997-2000

  • Red Oak Circuit; Iowa Conference

  • Bethany/Cainsville Charge; Missouri Conference

Licensed Counselor, Family Systems, Chemical and Substance Abuse; St Luke Recovery/Concerned, Inc. - 1992-1997

  • Counsel and provide therapy to individuals, couples and/or youth to promote emotional healing, resolve conflict and/or change behavior. Certifications/Specializations in Cognitive/ Behavioral Therapy (CBT); Marriage/Family Therapy (MFT/ACA Certified); alcohol and drug counselor (IADC)/co-occurring disorders professional (CCDP), certified domestic violence counselor

United States Army - 1989-1992

  • Veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm

  • Military Intelligence Analyst

  • Russian Linguist

  • Family Therapist/Addictions Counselor

Connectional Ministry


  • Member of the Iowa Appointive Cabinet - 2018-Present

  • General Conference Delegate - 2020-Present

  • Jurisdictional Conference Delegate, North Central Jurisdiction 2016-Present

  • NCJ Committee on Investigation - 2016-Present

  • Bishop’s Operational Team - 2016-Present; coached by Spiritual Leadership, Inc.; Lexington, KY

  • GBHEM & LeaderWise. Pilot Partnership. Reflective Supervision


  • Iowa United Women in Faith - Guest Faculty & Keynote Address, Mission U - 2019

  • Iowa Preaching and Worship Institute - 2019-2021

  • Saint Paul School of Theology - Course of Study Faculty. Transformational Leadership - 2017

  • Women at the Well, Transition Team - 2016-2018

  • District Committee on Ministry - 2005-2018

  • Clergy Mentor/Candidacy Mentor - 2005-Present

  • Bishop’s Design Task Force - 2014-2015

  • School for Ministry - Ministry and Moral Trauma - Ministry with Veterans - taught with Col. Steve Peters - 2015

  • Board of Ordained Ministry - Residency in Ministry - Director - 2005-2015

  • Board of Ordained Ministry Examination Teams - 2007-2018

  • Iowa School for Lay Ministry - Church Leadership, Strategizing for Growth – Faculty - 2002-2013

Community Service Activity


Simpson Youth Academy, Advisory Board. 2019-Present.

  • This academy is for high school juniors and seniors and is a place for thoughtful theological faith formation, intentional community, and engagement in ministries of justice, poverty, and creation care.

Sister to Sister, Justice Ministries, 2017-Present

  • Foci in mental health and soul care for trauma survivors who were harmed by rape, abuse, and/or incest.

SoldierOn – 2015–Present

  • Working with veterans who have experienced moral trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress, or continue to heal from their deployments and challenges.


Longfellow Elementary School, 2013-2015

  • Served as a reading mentor for upper elementary students who either needed skill development or social supports.

Volunteer Chaplain, Atlantic, IA – 2008-2014

  • Partnered with the fire chief providing soul care of the firefighters especially after a fire fatality; assisted local law enforcement when they had to deliver difficult news; provided spiritual supports for the school system following traumatic events including the death by suicide of a beloved teacher; launched an ecumenical senior ministry and worship service at Heritage House Senior Living.

Circles of Success – 2008-2012

  • Volunteered to mentor parents (low income) on communication skill development, household management, financial leadership, educational/vocational engagement, and positive parenting skills.