BY JEFF FINLEY
Several new members of the Free Methodist Church – USA’s Board of Administration (BOA) acknowledged simultaneous feelings of uncertainty and enthusiasm as they gathered Oct. 12–15 at the World Ministries Center in Indianapolis.
Describing it as a “step of faith,” Jeff Newville said serving on the BOA required “saying yes to the Lord without knowing what that yes totally meant.” Prior to the meeting in Indianapolis, Newville did not know most of the people who would be serving on the board, and he acknowledged “a bit of fear and trepidation” mixed with excitement generated by the outreach emphasis of General Conference 2011.
“As I started praying about it, what I felt like the Lord really impressed upon me was: ‘Jeff, it’s through your weakness that I’m made strong,’” said Newville, the owner of a real estate investment company and a member of Northside Community Church in Newberg, Ore.
Newcomer Karen Michel described herself as honored, overwhelmed and excited to join the board with “a huge sense of responsibility for the church in this country.” Michel works in development at Penn State University and serves as the children’s director at Stepping Stones Community Church in State College, Pa.
E. Kenneth Martin, the pastor of New Vision Fellowship in Forestville, Md., has both a new BOA seat and a new role as the Free Methodist Church’s representative to the National Association of Evangelicals. Bishop David Roller previously represented the denomination on the board of the association, which connects more than 40 evangelical denominations.
Martin hopes his involvement in the National Association of Evangelicals will lighten the Board of Bishops’ workload while demonstrating diversity within the body of Christ.
“We need more people of color in these organizations,” said Martin, the BOA’s only African-American member. “Jesus died for all people, and we have to have all people at all levels of the church.
Martin also serves as the presiding overseer of the Kingdom Ministries Network, which unites Christian leaders of cross-cultural ministries that primarily operate in urban areas.
“I’ve been with the Free Methodist Church for over 20 years and have spent a lot of my time trying to raise up urban and ethnic leaders at all levels of the church,” Martin said. “This is groundbreaking, but it also speaks volumes to so many other ethnic groups.”
He hopes his leadership roles demonstrate that key denominational decisions are made by people with diverse backgrounds. He quoted another groundbreaking African-American pastor, Martin Luther King Jr., who dreamed of a nation where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Another new board member with a big role is Eric Spangler, the lead pastor of LifePoint Church, a multisite congregation in Everett and Lake Stevens, Wash. Spangler is the new chairman of the board’s Missions Committee.
“I’m hoping that we will help catalyze a new level of engagement in world missions between the local church and our work around the world,” Spangler said. “I consider this both an incredible opportunity to learn more about leadership and our church, and also a moment when in concert with others on the board, we can position our denomination to influence as many people as possible toward Jesus.”
New BOA member Charlie Fiskeaux serves as the chief financial officer and vice president of business affairs at Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky. He is devoted to the theology of the Wesleyan Holiness Movement that includes Free Methodism, and he views his new role on the board as part of his overall service to Christ’s kingdom.
“My commitment is to the Wesleyan Holiness position,” said Fiskeaux, who has turned down career opportunities with organizations that do not share Wesleyan Holiness views. “That’s why I’m in the Free Methodist Church, and that’s why I’m at Asbury.”
“I was asked to be the new secretary, so I wasn’t elected at general conference, and then [the BOA] had to vote on me,” explained Sands, who also serves on the board’s new Leadership Committee.
While some people might not enjoy the long business meetings required by BOA service, Sands expressed excitement to serve. She said she has a task-oriented personality and enjoys finding ways to do business more efficiently and effectively.
Apart from Sands, the board members were elected during General Conference 2011 held July 13-17 at Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary in North Chili, N.Y. The next BOA will be elected at General Conference 2015 in Orlando, Fla.
The BOA meets two times a year to deal with church business between general conferences. The next board meetings are scheduled for April 12-14 and Oct. 18-20, 2012. For more information and photos of each BOA member, visit the Board of Administration page of the Free Methodist Church – USA website.