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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    The UNY Regional Plan with District appointments and church assignments

    March 9, 2020 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb

    On January 18, 2020, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb and the Upper New York Cabinet announced a Regional Superintendency Plan that will take effect on July 1, 2020. This plan will allow us to focus on our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, experimenting with new ways of living faithfully and fruitfully amid the uncertainty of our current reality.

    As of July 1, 2020, we will live out our mission in Upper New York within three Regions that consist of four Districts within each Region. Click here to see the key points of what changes will take place as well as what will remain the same in this new plan. Click here to read an article that provides positive insights about this plan. One of the questions that has been asked is whether the existing committee and team structure within districts will continue. The answer is yes, recognizing that we also will have opportunity to increase the effectiveness of that structure.

    • Region 1 consists of the Albany, Adirondack, Northern Flow, and Mohawk Districts with the Rev. Debbie Earthrowl, Rev. Abel Roy, and Rev. Michael Weeden appointed as DSes to this Region.
    • Region 2 consists of the Crossroads, Finger Lakes, Genesee Valley, and Niagara Frontier Districts with the Rev. Nola Anderson, Rev Vonda Fossitt,and Rev. Carlos Rosa Laguer appointed as DSes to this Region.
    • Region 3 consists of the Oneonta, Binghamton, Mountainview, and Cornerstone Districts with Rev. Nancy Adams, Rev. Suzanne Block, and Rev. Dr. Jeffrey McDowell appointed as DSes to this Region.

    Sharing leadership will enable District Superintendents to serve as Missional Strategists not just for their District but for their Region as well. They will be able to lead from their strengths and draw on the strength of their colleagues. And, because we will need to fund only nine District Superintendents, resources can be reallocated to support part-time District and Regional Associates as resource persons to assist congregations in living out the mission and meet needs locally. This will allow us to move resources closer to the local church.

    While District Superintendents will work as a team of three in each Region to provide leadership and missional strategy to the Region, they will also be appointed to provide oversight and supervision to the Districts and the existing organizational structure of the District.

    It is Bishop Webb’s intention to make the following District appointments as of July 1, 2020.  This includes the intention to extend Rev. Nancy Adams and Rev. Dr. Jeff McDowell to a 7th year as superintendents in accordance with paragraph 418 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church:

    • Adirondack District – Rev. Debbie Earthrowl
    • Albany District – Rev. Debbie Earthrowl
    • Binghamton District – Rev. Nancy Adams
    • Cornerstone District – Rev. Suzanne Block
    • Crossroads District – Rev. Nola Anderson
    • Finger Lakes District – Rev. Nola Anderson
    • Genesee Valley District – Rev. Vonda Fossitt
    • Mohawk District – Rev. Abel Roy
    • Mountain View District – Rev. Dr. Jeff McDowell
    • Niagara Frontier District – Rev. Carlos Rosa Laguer
    • Northern Flow District – Rev. Michael Weeden
    • Oneonta District – Rev. Nancy Adams

    A vital role of the superintendency is to provide supervision and accountability to the clergy and congregations within a district. As District Superintendents work as a team of missional strategists for the Districts within a Region, pastors and congregations will relate to one District Superintendent for supervision and accountability, including consultation regarding pastoral leadership. 

    To manage the number of congregations and pastors a District Superintendent will care for, some congregations and pastors will be assigned a District Superintendent for supervision and accountability who is a part of their Region, but not the DS appointed to the District in which their congregation is located. For example, in Region 1, Rev. Debbie Eartrowl will be appointed as District Superintendent of the Albany District, while the congregation and pastor of Gloversville/Foothills, a church within the Albany District, will be assigned Rev. Abel Roy as Superintendent for the purposes of supervision and accountability.   

    Despite this change, all congregations and pastors will still relate to the District Office within their District, continuing the relationship and support that currently exists.  To continue the above example, the congregation and pastor of Gloversville/Foothills will contact the Albany District office for all matters, including the work they do with Rev. Abel Roy.

    Each church’s experience of conference and district support will be much the same as it is now: there will be one DS you relate to; the same district office; the same annual reports; the same charge conference requirements.

    The main change is occurring in the life of the Superintendents. They will function in teams of three, together resourcing a region of four districts. They will spend more time developing teams to resource ministry, and less time as technicians for local church needs. Some of that technical work will be covered with District Associates.

    Each Regional team of District Superintendents have worked together to establish the primary assignment of one DS to each congregation and pastor. Click here to see those assignments, effective July 1, 2020.

    The Upper New York Cabinet is committed to lead faithfully and believe that this new model of leadership will provide an opportunity to increase our mission, recognizing our current reality while addressing sustainability for the future. They acknowledge there will be growing pains, but they are willing to risk a new way in faith. Evaluation and adjustment if necessary, will be critical as we move forward together.

    To learn more about this new model for ministry in Upper New York, you can access the following resources:

                Regional Plan Video

                Key Points Handout


    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."