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Two Sections

Burning Questions with Bill Dobbs

Challenging the NCJ

What is the secret to getting noticed? | 5A

Bishop Lee offers challenge to the North Central Jurisdiction| 8A

Section A 079000 Vol. 159 No. 14 August 3, 2012


ABOVE: The Rev. Laurie Haller, chair of the West Michigan Conference Delegation to General and Jurisdictional Conferences, and pastor at Aldersgate UMC and Plainfield UMC in Grand Rapids, speaks during a panel discussion at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Akron, Ohio. RIGHT: West Michigan’s Ryan Minier explains “The Mitten” to newly assigned Michigan Resident Bishop Deborah Kiesey at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Akron, Ohio. Bishop Kiesey will begin her appointment September 1, 2012.


Bishop Kiesey Assigned to Michigan Area By Paul Thomas and Erik Alsgaard AKRON, Ohio—Bishop Deborah Kiesey is coming to the Michigan Area, effective Sept. 1, 2012. The North Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy made the announcement on Thursday, July 19, during the North Central Jurisdictional Conference being held here. Kiesey follows Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, who was assigned to the Illinois Area, which contains the Illinois-Great Rivers Conference. Keaton has served the Michigan Area, which consists of the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences, since 2004. “I’m excited about coming to Michigan,” said Kiesey, noting the Area’s commitment to missions and diversity. “I’m looking forward to building relationships.” Kiesey has a passion for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, and places a strong emphasis on vital congregations. “It isn’t just numbers,” she said. “Numbers help us understand the health of a congregation, but I have seen

incredibly healthy, vital congregations that don’t have huge numbers. Vitality is much more complex than what shows up in numbers. Vitality is a ‘heart’ thing.” Reaction to Kiesey’s assignment was overwhelmingly positive. Laurie Dahlman, from Kalamazoo: Milwood UMC, serves on the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee (JEC). “I have heard that Bishop Kiesey is a bridge-builder and one who fosters friendships. That’s very important to her and to us,” she said.

The Rev. Benton Heisler, also on the JEC, serves as the Director of Connectional Ministry for the West Michigan Conference. “We’re very much looking forward to the gifts and the energy Bishop Kiesey brings,” he said. “She is going to be a real blessing to the Area.” “Bishop Kiesey is a bishop who is enthusiastic and energetic,” said the Rev. Joy Barrett, pastor at Chelsea UMC and also a member of the JEC. “She has a passion for mission and See Bishop Kiesey. . . on page 4A

Bishop Keaton Assigned to Illinois Area By Erik Alsgaard AKRON, Ohio—Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, who has served the Michigan Area for the past eight years, has been assigned to the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, effective Sept. 1. “I think it’s going to be another good opportunity,” said

Keaton shortly after the assignments were announced at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference meeting here. “I say that because I’ve been in ministry now 40 years, and it’s all been itinerant ministry, so that means I’ve always gone where I’ve been sent, even as I have preferred to stay in a particular area. Wherever I have gone, God is already there, See Bishop Keaton. . . on page 4A

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AUGUST 3, 2012


Bishop Kiesey Assigned to Michigan Area Continued from front page vital congregations. It will be exciting to see what she can do to help lead the Area forward in developing more and more vital congregations.” Jackie Euper, chair of the Detroit Conference delegation to General Conference and Conference Secretary of Global Missions, said she was “pleasantly surprised” that Bishop Kiesey was coming to Michigan. “It was just a really good match between her gifts and our needs at this time.” Kiesey is the second consecutive experienced bishop to be assigned to the Michigan Area. Prior to Keaton coming to Michigan in 2004, every bishop appointed to the area since the creation of The United Methodist Church in 1969 had been a bishop in his/her first episcopal assignment. Keaton will serve the remaining four years of his episcopal tenure in the Illinois Area, where he follows Bishop Gregory Palmer. Keaton expects to retire in 2016. Welcome celebrations for Bishop Kiesey are tentatively scheduled for Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 13–14. More information about the locations and times of the gatherings will be available in the near future. The jurisdictional conference did not elect a bishop this year due to the reduction of an episcopal area. The Dakotas and Minnesota Areas were combined to form a single Dakotas-Minnesota Area. Only one bishop, Wisconsin Area Bishop Linda Lee, is retiring, leaving nine active bishops to be assigned to nine episcopal areas. The episcopal announcements were one of the main items of business for the 2012 North Central Jurisdictional Conference, a quadrennial gathering of United Methodists from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Over 220 delegates from 11 conferences attended the event, which was held at the John. S. Knight Center in downtown Akron.

Meet Bishop Deborah Kiesey Bishop Deborah Kiesey is a PK who grew up in Iowa. She was elected to the episcopacy in 2004 and appointed to the Dakotas Area. Prior to her election, she served three years as superintendent of the Waterloo District in the Iowa Conference. Kiesey served Richland/Ollie UMCs, Washington UMC, Mt. Pleasant UMC, and Iowa City UMC before being selected to serve as a superintendent. She also served as a delegate to General Conference in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and was the first-elected clergy from the Iowa Conference on four occasions. Kiesey attended Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, where she graduated with honors in 1973 with a double major in Religion and Piano Performance. She was named Outstanding Alumna of the Year for Morningside College in 2004. She first felt a calling to the ordained ministry while a student at Boston University School of Theology and earned her Masters of Divinity degree there in 1976. Upon her return to Iowa, she married D. Bradley Kiesey, an attorney from Washington, Iowa. They have been blessed with two adult sons, Joel and Aaron. Kiesey was ordained Deacon in 1974 and Elder in 1977.

Michigan Area Episcopal History since 1969 *Dwight E. Loder—1969–1976 *Edsel A. Ammons—1976–1984 *Judith Craig—1984–1992 *Donald A. Ott—1992–2000 *Linda Lee—2000–2004 Jonathan D. Keaton—2004–2012 Deborah Kiesey—2012 *first episcopal assignment

Bishop Keaton Assigned to Illinois Area Continued from front page Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee (JEC) from the Detroit waiting for me.” Conference. “I’ve been a personal friend of his, and our Keaton has served the Michigan Area prayers go with he and Beverly as they since 2004, after serving as bishop in go. We know that they will be a blessing the Ohio East Area prior to that. in Illinois.” Looking back on his time in “Bishop Keaton has given many, Michigan, Keaton said he came looking many great gifts to Michigan,” said the for joy—and found it. “I found it every Rev. Joy Barrett, pastor of Chelsea UMC single day,” he said, noting that he found in the Detroit Conference, and a it in the people of the Michigan Area member of the JEC. “He has lead with and in the worship experiences he had. excellence and with passion, with a “Bishop Kiesey is going to meet deep and abiding sense of commitment some great people,” Keaton said. “She’s to the call of Christ upon his life, and going to have a good time. I said to her helping us to claim that in our own that they’re going to be receptive to her lives.” leadership, so she’s already got the good “I think Bishop Keaton’s time in word from me.” Michigan has been a very fruitful time,” Keaton said that he came to the said the Rev. Benton Heisler, Director of Michigan Area looking for people who Connectional Ministries for the West were called, laity and clergy, and to see Michigan Conference and a member of PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EAST OHIO the JEC. “I believe the gifts that he has Christ manifested through them. “I’ve CONFERENCE. seen it time and time again,” he said. will serve the Illinois Great Rivers Michigan Area Bishop Jonathan D. “I came also to be challenged,” he Conference very well.” added, “to see in the way of how God is Keaton preaches during the North Two gatherings have been scheduled Central Jurisdictional Conference in trying to grow me up that I might help to celebrate the ministry of Bishop Akron, Ohio. Keaton was assigned lead God’s church. So for me, it’s been a Keaton in the Michigan Area. On during the conference to serve the continuation of the journey and a Saturday, Aug. 25, a reception will take Illinois Great Rivers Conference, continuation of the journey of place from 1–4 p.m. at St. Ignace UMC effective Sept. 1, 2012. expectations met.’ in St. Ignace, while on Sunday, Aug. 26, a “We have enjoyed Bishop Keaton’s ministry in the celebration will be held from 4–8 p.m. at Redeemer UMC in Michigan Area,” said Jackie Euper, a member of the DeWitt.

Calendar of Events August Detroit Conference School of Christian Mission The Detroit Conference School of Christian Mission will be held August 16–18 at the Lake Huron Retreat Center just north of Port Huron, including a one-day school. More information at

Michigan Area School for Pastoral Ministry This year’s Michigan Area School for Pastoral Ministry will be held August 21–23, and features Bishop Woodie White and Dee & Tom Yaccino. White recently retired from the Indiana Conference, United Methodist Church. From 1969–1984 he was General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church. The Yaccinos have partnered in transformational cross-cultural ministry since the late eighties. Now as leaders at Del Camino Connections in the Dominican Republic, they organize sustainable initiatives in health, water, agriculture and education in rural communities, and mentor new and passionate leadership. More information at

Old Rugged Cross Centennial Celebration 1913 is the year “The Old Rugged Cross” was written by George Bennard. A Centennial Celebration of the cross will be held August 10–12, at the Museum located on Park Street in Reed City, Michigan. The Museum will be open on Friday, August 10, from 1 pm-8 pm for tours. On Saturday, August 11, open house at museum featuring displays of the life of Bennard and wife Hannah Dalstrom Bennard. Also on Saturday, at 7 pm, there will be a gospel music program at Rambadt Park in Reed City. Then on Sunday, August 12, at 2 pm, there will be a musical program at Reed City UMC, 503 S. Chestnut St., featuring music provided by the Bennard family. For more information, contact Carolyn Sims at 231-832-5431.

Family camp for clergy and ministry professionals Family Camp is an opportunity for clergy and ministry professionals to break from the hectic schedules of ministry and spend time in renewal and relaxation with their families and others in ministry. The week of August 19–24 provides time to connect with other colleagues, spouses, and children in an informal setting and is a great opportunity to grow professionally and as a family. The workshop leaders for Family Camp will be the Rev. Dr. William Ritter and his wife, Kristine. To register, visit

The Michigan Area Reporter is the official print publication of the Michigan Area of The United Methodist Church, serving the Detroit and West Michigan Annual Conferences. Publisher Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton Editor Rev. Erik J. Alsgaard Directors of Communication Detroit—Paul Thomas West Michigan—Mark Doyal The Michigan Area Reporter is printed by UMR Communications, Dallas, Texas. We’re online at, and

AUGUST 3, 2012



‘But We Had Hoped’ I preached at the North Central Jurisdiction Conference July 19, 2012 in Akron, Ohio. My sermon entitled “BUT WE HAD HOPED” was based on Luke 24:12–35. I recounted a couple of disciples having a postresurrection encounter with Jesus Christ. The sermon, in its entirety, is available on the conference websites. On the road to Emmaus, Cleopas and FROM another disciple walked and talked about the THE devastating loss they had experienced in BISHOP Jerusalem. Their leader, Jesus of Nazareth, had been betrayed, beaten, crucified and buried. JOHNATHAN D. Early Sunday morning, some of their women KEATON friends found the tomb empty. Two angels said he had risen from the dead. That seemed impossible. Disenchanted, confused, and possibly frustrated by what happened to his Lord, Cleopas shared his angst of spirit in a revealing opinion, “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel…” Our Lord heard this critique as he joined them on the road to Emmaus…but they failed to recognize him in their midst. Cleopas’ statement was a backhanded compliment of Jesus ‘ leadership. His coming had brought hope to Israel. People sensed that things were changing or were going to change for the better. Men forsook their fishing businesses to become of fishers of persons. Despised tax collectors responded to Jesus. Fishing for people and following Christ seemed more attractive and productive than collecting filthy lucre…Jesus crossed a major boundary when he met the woman at the well…she was

the recipient of respectful dialogue from a Jewish man in public. Plus she met the source of living water… As our denomination put flesh on the concern for others dramatized in Matthew 25 concerning the “least of these,” we have brought hope to our world, like Christ. “Imagine No Malaria” has become the most public expression of this healthfilled quest. During the 2012 Detroit Conference, “a God thing” happened. A member of the conference moved, procured a second and received over whelming support for a $500,000.00 campaign in support of Imagine No Malaria. Three years ago, one of my districts initiated a campaign to build Phase I of a Gathering Center at Africa University. At the 2012 West Michigan Annual Conference, the District Superintendent, the District Chairperson of the Africa University Task Force and the churches on that district announced they had reached the goal of raising half a million dollars in cash and pledges, six months ahead of schedule. Major donors, conference offerings and support from five other districts helped. Eight years of ministry in the Michigan Area has taught this bishop that nothing will keep the Michigan Area from raising half a million here or half a million there to “make the wounded whole;” not Michigan’s high unemployment, not a slowly recovering auto industry, not the financial woes of Detroit, Marquette and Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo,

nothing—not even plain old doubt. Giving to missions is stamped in the DNA of people called “Methodists” in Michigan. Quite frankly, our whole church is possessed by such contagion. The Book of Discipline is correct today, “The church in mission is a sign of God’s presence in the world.” The other section of the sermon focused on Jesus’ criticism of Cleopas, his walking partner, and the rest of the Twelve. They showed a lack of faith in their leader. Our Lord calls it a “slowness to believe.” For example, they do not believe or fail to read the prophetic word in the Old Testament declaring that the Messiah “come to save” will suffer. Isaiah 53 images him as the Suffering Servant, i.e., “surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Secondly, they envision God’s salvation as limited to the redemption of Israel. For Christ, his salvation is for the world. When the trio arrives in Emmaus, they beg the stranger to join them for dinner. When their Lord sits at table and breaks the bread, they realize it is the risen Christ. He disappears immediately. But they couldn’t contain the spirit filled joy they felt over his presence. It was like Pentecostal fire shut up in their bones. In the final analysis, a disciple who lost hope in Jesus found it again. It took a little talk with Jesus. One hymnologist captured where Cleopas’ struggle ended. “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

‘On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.’

How Do I Get Noticed By the Bishop? This month’s burning question came from a recently ordained elder who, after spending so much time away at College and Seminary, is only now becoming aware of the ins and outs of life in the Annual Conference. He (or she) stopped me at this past session of the Annual Conference to ask, “What is the secret to getting the bishop’s attention? Do I have to be a problem to get noticed? I passed Bishop BURNING Keaton in the hall and I don’t think he even QUESTIONS knew who I was!” That is a frequent question that I will try to WITH BILL answer from my own experience. BILL My first meeting with Bishop Keaton took DOBBS place at University Church in East Lansing during his first months in office. I was just one of many faces who introduced themselves to the bishop that day in Asbury Hall. I made some comment about being pleased to meet him and grateful for the opportunity to be of service. But I was very aware that—though he was very gracious— he really didn’t “connect” my words and my face in any way that “stuck” that day. If you had asked him who Bill Dobbs was the next day, I’m sure he could not have told that he had met me just the day before. As I look back on the day, I’m really not surprised. There were literally hundreds of clergy and lay people there that day; they all wanted to meet and greet the new bishop. Had I put the shoe on the other foot, I know that I would not have remembered most of the people who greeted me. But here is the interesting thing to me: when we did meet next he knew things about me that I had not told him that day. Furthermore, Bishop Keaton had a pretty good idea of what he wanted me to do before he ever called me into his office all those months later.

How did it happen? Well, Bishop Keaton has been at this “bishop” thing long enough to have developed some ways of learning and remembering things that often amazes those of us who observe him in action. In my case, he had spoken with his cabinet colleagues on the West Michigan side about possible District Superintendent candidates and my name had come on the table. He asked each superintendent to add information as they knew it to what he had read about me in my file (yes, we clergy all have one). By the time he had a decision to make, he knew quite a bit about each person under consideration. But what if you’re just starting out and have no desire to be considered for a position on the appointive cabinet just yet? Well there is more than one way to get on the bishop’s awareness page. You could speak on the floor of annual conference, preferably more than once during a session. Bishop Keaton does begin to put names and faces together when he sees and hears them on the floor. Or you could write something—either directly to the bishop or on a blog or in a web-site article—that will get his attention. Or you could pick a fight with him. No, seriously, Bishop Keaton does remember people who disagree with him. Not with judgment and criticism as you might expect, but, with patience and good humor. Some have come to the bishop’s attention because they are doing outstanding work and their DS has delighted in telling their story around the cabinet table. Some have been mentioned by their DS for less attractive reasons, and, yes, those names and faces are also remembered. However they are not remembered like the proverbial Santa who made a list and checked it twice to see who was naughty or nice. People who think that way have not really worked with this Bishop very much. I know that Bishop Keaton prays for and worries about people—lay as well as clergy—who are facing challenges every day. So, there are many ways that people come to the bishop’s

attention and find themselves on his radar. One other way that some have found to be a real positive is to travel with him. I reminded the new ordinand that Bishop Keaton would be taking ordinands to the Holy Land this February, if they wanted to go, and the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee returned him to the Michigan Area. Bishop Keaton has built great relationships with people on those trips that has blessed him and them as well. But the word I would want to stress for those of you who are not sure if you want the bishop to know your name or not is this: Just be the best pastor or church member that you can be and don’t worry about whether the bishop knows your name or not. When an episcopal leader needs to know about someone, they have ways of finding out about you. When the Spirit has called and equipped you for a particular ministry, spiritually attentive bishops and cabinets have ways of hearing your name even without you taking a trip or picking a fight. Will the bishop always recognize you when you meet in the hall? It really all depends on what problem or opportunity is occupying his thoughts at that moment. But don’t ever make the mistake of assuming that he doesn’t know who you are because he doesn’t greet you by name at a chance meeting in the hall. If your name needs to be known, rest assured that the one who has been sent to superintend the pastors and churches of the Michigan Area will know who you are and what gifts you bring to your ministry. Finally, this month, I want to thank all of you for your prayers and best wishes as I dealt with the bad back and the pinched nerve that often left me looking more like Yoda than usual. Surgery is behind me (no pun intended) and recovery is well under way. Thank you, one and all, for your words of encouragement and your many prayers! The Rev. Bill Dobbs is Clergy Assistant to Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton


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Bishop Lee Challenges NCJ as she Retires By Erik Alsgaard Bishop Linda Lee of the Wisconsin Conference, who formerly served the Michigan Area from 2000-2004, will join GarrettEvangelical Theological Seminary as Bishop-in-Residence starting March 2013. Lee is retiring from the episcopacy in September 2012. “When I think of Linda Lee, two words come to mind: God Surprises,” said Bishop Don Ott, himself a former bishop of the Michigan Area (1992-2000). It was Ott who appointed Lee as a District Superintendent in Detroit in 1995. “Then, I had to lean forward to hear her speak,” Ott said to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference, which honored Lee’s retirement. “But when it came sermon time, let me tell you, there was no more leaning forward needing to hear her. I was stunned by her presence… I tell you, DS Linda Lee was God’s surprise.” Lee is known for her deep spirituality, Ott said, and for practicing spiritual disciplines on a daily basis. “Someone once asked me when she would talk about something other than Sabbath. I whispered, ‘when we take it seriously.’” Ott also noted that Lee has lived out her convictions in the matters of race and worked to help support black clergywomen in particular. Lee, who was blessed to have her 90-year old father, Louis M. Lee, and her sister, Stephanie, in the audience as she spoke, first thanked her husband, the Rev. Lamarr Gibson, for being “the wind beneath my wings. I could not have done it if it had not been for his unwavering support.” As she thanked him and many others, Lee noted that she is a true child of the North Central Jurisdiction. Born in East Ohio, she received her call in West Ohio, she said, and was ordained in that same conference. From there, she served in the Detroit Conference and then the Michigan Area before being assigned to Wisconsin. “God blessed me with colleagues, where we worked for justice and women’s issues,” Lee said. “It was just wonderful. From that ministry in Detroit and the support of the West Michigan Conference, this body elected me a bishop of the church. I wanted to say thank you.” With Lee’s retirement, there are now no African American women bishops in the Council of Bishops. She challenged the NCJ to change that. Lee made history in 2000 when she was the first African American woman to be elected bishop in the North Central Jurisdiction. “Find new black women who can serve in this roll in the church, out of this jurisdiction,” said Lee. “Because of the way we see things, because of the experience we have as a black woman


The Rev. Benton Heisler, left, Director of Connectional Ministries for the West Michigan Conference, leads the North Central Jurisdiction in prayer for Bishop Linda Lee, center, during her retirement celebration in Akron, Ohio. Lee served the Michigan Area from 2000-2004, and will become Bishop In Residence at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary near Chicago. Standing next to her on the podium is her husband, the Rev. Lamarr Gibson, while former Michigan Area Bishop Donald Ott lays hands on him.

in this nation and this church, we need to find a leader for that roll, as well as for Latino men and women, and Native Americans. Continue to nurture Asian women and men, so that these voices will be heard and their perspectives will be a part as we go forward.” As Bishop-in-Residence at Garrett, Lee will be working in the areas of spirituality, spiritual formation, and United Methodist studies and polity. She will lecture, mentor, and advise students seeking guidance in spiritual practices and in United Methodist policies and procedure.

Jurisdictional UMW Elects New Officers By Diana Spitnale Miller The North Central Jurisdiction United Methodist Women Quadrennial Event was held June 19–20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. The meeting was a gathering of 245 United Methodist Women from 11 conferences across the Midwest who shared in worship, inspiration and fellowship. Six delegates from the Detroit Conference and six delegates from the West Michigan Conference joined other delegates to vote for four directors for the new Board of Directors of the national organization of United Methodist Women. Elected from our Jurisdiction were Cindy Saufferer from Minnesota, Angela Lauver from West Ohio, Vickie Newkirk from Indiana, and Irma Clark from Northern Illinois. Taylorie Bailie from Detroit Conference was elected the alternate in case one of the other four cannot serve. They join 16 directors from other jurisdictions. Five other directors were named to insure inclusivity for a total of 25.

In news after the meeting, Jackie Euper from the Detroit Conference and part of the 2008–2012 Board of Directors, was asked to serve on the new Program Advisory Board of the national organization of United Methodist Women. Nichea Ver Veer Guy from West Michigan, also a part of the previous Board of Directors, was named Chair of the Finance Committee for the new Board. Diana Miller, Detroit, Vice President of the Jurisdiction Leadership Team, and Phyllis Jackson, West Michigan, member of the Nominating Committee, are finishing their four year terms. Ruth Whaley of West Michigan was elected President and Ruby Anderson of Detroit was elected to the Nominating Committee of the 2013-2016 Jurisdiction Leadership Team. For more information, visit Diana Spitnale Miller is Vice President of North Central Jurisdiction Leadership Team of United Methodist Women.

“I am excited about the possibilities as we continue to work together in mission and ministry for the transformation of the world across the Church. My hope is to help in this transformation by participating in equipping those entering pastoral ministry, and developing those continuing in ministries of the Church in Wesleyan and spiritual grounding relevant to the 21st century.” Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary contributed to this story.

Wesleyan Heritage Trip Planned The Rev. Bill Dobbs, clergy assistant to Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, is inviting people from the Michigan Area to accompany him on a trip to London and the surrounding country-side to explore our Wesleyan Heritage in the summer of 2013. If you are curious and would like more information, please contact his office at (517) 347-4030, or send him a note to If you already know that you want to be a part of this trip, and would like to invite others to accompany us on this adventure, please contact Dobbs and he will see that you receive information that you can share with other interested parties. “If you will consider going,” Dobbs said, “I will count it a great privilege and honor to share the time and the journey with you.”

Michigan Area Reporter August 2012  

August section of MI Reporter