By United Methodist News Service
The Rev. Amy Valdez Barker has been named executive secretary of the Connectional Table, providing administrative leadership for the body that coordinates the mission, ministry and resources of The United Methodist Church.
Valdez Barker, an ordained deacon from the North Georgia Annual (regional) Conference, begins her new role Jan. 1, 2013. At present, she is the project manager for the Vital Congregations initiative, supported by the United Methodist Council of Bishops and Connectional Table.
“Amy’s experience as a leader in The United Methodist Church, along with her vision and passion for Christ expressed through our Wesleyan tradition and her administrative skills are just what the Connectional Table needs to assist us as we move forward,” said Bishop Bruce Ough, the Connectional Table’s chair. “We are thrilled that she has joined us for the exciting work ahead as we focus our attention on congregational vitality, discerning our future as a worldwide church and engaging more fully in the four areas of focus.”
In the months leading up to the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly, General Conference, Valdez Barker’s leadership helped galvanize 73 percent of United Methodist congregations to set specific and measurable goals that would translate into an increase in worship attendance, giving and double the number of vital congregations over the next four years.
Since November 2010, United Methodist bishops have committed themselves to making congregational vitality the church’s “true first priority” for at least a decade.
Valdez Barker said her experience with the Vital Congregations initiative has exposed her to “many different perspectives from many different areas of the church.”
She has heard the stories of congregations “that are doing some amazing things from really small congregations, to mid-size to very large.”
She said she also has learned the different strategies that conferences are trying to increase congregational vitality.
“I think those different perspectives will help as we move forward in increasing the number of vital congregations,” she said. ”But I think the other element is increasing awareness for the need for a vital connection as much as vital congregations.”
Valdez Barker is earning a doctoral degree in Christian education and congregational studies at United Methodist-related Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.
In addition, she has a background in Christian ministry, program management and church administration, as well as 20 years of leadership at the general church and global church level.
She has served on the executive committee of the World Methodist Council. She also served on the board of the General Council on Ministries, which the Connectional Table replaced.
She also has served on the boards of the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration, Board of Church and Society, and Commission on Religion and Race. She was a delegate to the 2004 General Conference, and has worked for the Desert Southwest and Wisconsin Conferences. She will remain in the Chicago area.
Valdez Barker succeeds Mary Brooke Casad in the role of executive secretary. Casad announced her resignation in September after serving the Connectional Table for five years. The Connectional Table will have its organizational meeting Jan. 15-17, 2013 in Nashville, Tenn.