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Three S.C. clergy to lead major UMC groups

By Jessica Connor

Three of South Carolina’s own—Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, Dr. Colleen Keith and the Rev. Telley Gadson—will assume major leadership roles within the global United Methodist Church.

Henry-Crowe was elected chief executive of the UMC s General Board of Church and Society, effective in February. Keith was named president of the UMC s National Association of Schools and Colleges. And Gadson was elected president of the National Black Clergy Women of The United Methodist Church “ the youngest ever to serve in that capacity.

It s an honor for the S.C. Conference to be represented in so many wonderful ways nationally through the leadership positions of our talented clergy,  said Matt Brodie, conference director of communications. The national recognition they received shows we have some of the best in the country. 

Henry-Crowe a ‘bridge-builder’

Henry-Crowe, dean of the Chapel and Religious Life at Emory University in Atlanta, will succeed James E. Winkler as chief executive of the GBCS. The GBCS is one of four international general program boards of the UMC whose prime responsibility is to seek implementation of the United Methodist Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination s highest policy-making body.

The opportunity to support the communities and lives of real people around the world in their struggles for justice is the call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and one in which I am privileged to serve,  Henry-Crowe said.

In addition to her extension ministry service to Emory, Henry-Crowe served as a member of the United Methodist Judicial Council, the denomination s top court, for 16 years, and was the first woman elected president of that court (2008-2012). A member of the S.C. Conference, she is the former director and associate director of the S.C. Conference Council on Ministries, and she also pastored several S.C. UMCs: Seneca-Friendship, Arrington-Holroyd, Arrington and Shady Grove.

S.C. congregational specialist the Rev. Ken Nelson, one of three South Carolinians who serve on the GBCS board, called Henry-Crowe a bridge builder  and prophetic leader.  He said the UMC will be blessed under her leadership.

Anderson District Superintendent the Rev. Susan Leonard-Ray, also on the GBCS board, said Henry-Crowe has a deep heart for God and a keen eye for God s people everywhere.

Susan will no doubt help the UMC continue our Wesleyan heritage of wedding personal faith and social holiness through her new post as the general secretary of GBCS,  Leonard-Ray said.

The Rev. Clayton Childers, who served congregations in Newberry, Saluda and Greenwood before being appointed to GBCS in 2001 as director of conference relations, said Henry-Crowe will provide outstanding leadership.  Childers said it takes a unique individual to lead the GBCS, which is required by the UMC s Book of Discipline to provide forthright witness and action on issues of human well-being, justice, peace and the integrity of creation  and to speak its convictions … to both the church and the world. 

Susan Henry-Crowe has the experience, faith grounding and disposition necessary to accomplish these tasks, and we are all looking forward to having her serve as our general secretary,  Childers said.

Keith a ˜great leader

Keith, who has been president of Spartanburg Methodist College in Spartanburg since 2009, is leading a one-year term at the helm of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the UMC that began last month. NASCUMC is a voluntary association of schools, colleges and universities committed to the historic and distinctive values of United Methodist-related education. It exists to advance the work of education and scholarship in member institutions, working cooperatively with conferences, boards and agencies of the UMC to address issues of mutual concern to the church and the academy.

I am looking forward to collaborating with educational institutions from around the country as NASCUMC provides opportunities for connection with peers and enables discussions on important issues from the shared perspective of each institution s relationship to The United Methodist Church,  Keith said. I treasure the partnerships and personal relationships I have developed through NASCUMC. 

Under Keith s leadership, SMC launched a $15 million capital campaign; built an $11 million academic building; strengthened its marketing efforts and is about to engage in an extensive planning process. The college also received national recognition for service initiatives for the first time ever, for two years in a row, with more than 5,000 hours of combined service provided annually from faculty, staff and students.

An active presenter and panelist, Keith is a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, College and University Personnel Association and the Association of Governing Boards. She serves on the advisory board of S.C. Women in Higher Education, is secretary o
f the S.C. Higher Education Tuition Grants Commission and is an executive committee member of the S.C. Independent Colleges and Universities, in addition to serving on their president s Council and Finance Committee.

The Rev. Mitch Houston, who serves on the SMC board of trustees, said Keith is simply great  and the board is extremely proud of her achievement on a general church level.

When the search committee started looking for a new president of Spartanburg Methodist College, we wanted someone who would be relational with our students and the greater Spartanburg community; Colleen has far exceeded our expectations,  Houston said. It s no surprise to me that others in the global church recognize her leadership skills, also. 

Gadson a ˜mentor, sister, friend

Gadson, pastor of the St. Mark-St. Matthew Charge in Taylors, was elected president of the national BCWUMC at the group s 25th anniversary meeting in Dallas last month.

The Bible reminds us, ˜To whom much is given, much is required.  These words are the essence of my sentiments on being elected president of the National Black Clergy Women of The United Methodist Church,  Gadson told the Advocate.  To be affirmed by my peers with this historic election as the youngest to ever serve in this capacity, I am clear my leadership principles will be called into practice through new experiences and challenging opportunities. We will work together to not get weary, so the silent become liberated to speak, the lame in spirit are empowered to walk in grace and the marginalized are granted reserved-seating at the partnership-table.

As God continues to be the author and finisher of my faith, as righteous prayers continue to avail much, as I continue to be embraced by the love and support of my family, my friends, my colleagues and the people of the congregations I serve (the St. Mark and St. Matthew UMCs, Taylors/Greenville), I am confident this is going to be an amazing journey of ministry possibilities and team-building for the BCWUMC. Let the church say, ˜Amen! 

The national BCWUMC works to identify, develop, support and enhance opportunities for the inclusion and empowerment of black clergywomen at all levels of the UMC; recruit, train, educate, prepare and support black clergywomen for service and ministry within the local and national church work areas, appointments beyond the local church and other areas of ministry; develop and promote a network of resources, mentors and colleagues for black clergywomen in order to help provide a positive experience and enhance black clergywomen s progression in ministry; and much more.

The Rev. Angela Ford Nelson said that for many years, Pastor T  has been a mentor, sister and friend to her and others in the ministry: Pastor Gadson will surely use this national platform to continue to share her passion for the work of ministry and her pursuit of excellence in all things, with both clergy and laity who seek to be about our Father s business. 

Hartsville District Superintendent Dr. Robin Dease said Gadson will bring a renewed energy to the National Black Clergywomen.

Her technological skills, visions of excellence, passion for ministry and ability to multitask will invigorate and inspire us all,  Dease said. South Carolina is proud and looks forward to seeing the indelible mark she will make. 

Some material courtesy of UMNS.

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