They have been on the job or working up to it since early summer, but now it’s officially time to welcome Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson and Rev. Dr. Walter Monroe to their new roles as district superintendents.
Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson
Rev. Dr. Walter Monroe
Bishop Ken Carter will preside at installation and welcome services for both new district leaders. The service for Haupert-Johnson, who takes the helm of the North Central District, is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, at First UMC, Ocala, where she most recently served as co-pastor with her husband, Allen. Rev. Alan Jefferson of Ocala West UMC will officiate. A reception in the church’s Family Life Center and an open house at the district office will follow the service.
Choirs from the Gator Wesley Foundation of the University of Florida and Mount Pleasant UMC, Gainesville, will provide musical worship, along with Emily Edwards, a seminary student and daughter of Rev. June Edwards, whom Haupert-Johnson described as a close friend and member of her clergy covenant group.
Monroe, who assumed leadership of South Central District on July 1, will be welcomed with an installation service at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, at First UMC, Plant City. Monroe will greet well-wishers at the west-side doors of the church’s Wesley Centre, and a brief reception is scheduled after the service. Visitors also are invited to view the South Central District office on the second floor of the center.
Clergy and lay members from across the district, as well as other parts of the conference, will participate in the service. Music will be provided by Larry Clark, Susan Daniels, Debbie Hayes, Richard Wisher and the Chancel Choir of First UMC, Plant City; a brass quartet sponsored by The John Reed Music Scholarship Program; and the Fusion Student Worship Band from First UMC, Brandon.
Both new leaders officially started their duties July 1. Haupert-Johnson said she was impressed that conference leaders invited the two to sit in on Cabinet meetings before that to observe the clergy appointment process.
“That was one thing that really amazed me,” Haupert-Johnson said. “We were active participants, and we were not treated like new kids on the block.”
The new North Central District superintendent received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida, where she went on to earn a law degree. Later she answered a call to ministry and successfully pursued her master’s degree in divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where she and Monroe were in the same class.
She had pastoral appointments at Hillsborough UMC, Tampa; First UMC, Cape Coral; and First UMC, Lakeland, before becoming co-pastor at First UMC, Ocala, a church of about 2,000 worshipers.
|Rev. Dr. Walter Monroe settles into his role as district superintendent in the South Central office, which provides guidance for 83 churches and ministries in four counties. Photo from South Central District.|
|Rev. Emily Knight, left, associate pastor at First UMC, Ocala, meets with Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson, who will be installed Sunday, Sept. 8, as North Central District superintendent. Photo from North Central District.|
She also has served on several conference boards and committees, including stints as chairperson of the Order of Elders and Standing Rules and Resolutions committees. She has represented the Florida Conference at the quadrennial Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference three times and the General Conference in 2008 and ’12. She also was chairperson of the Judicial Administration Legislative Committee at last year’s General Conference.
Haupert-Johnson said she has lived in the district, which is home to 87 churches, for five years and knows most of the clergy who serve there. She has been spending her time since July 1 getting to know lay members and thinking about strategic planning, the new directive for district superintendents.
She said she will be asking questions such as, “What is the mission field in this district, and what are the needs in this district? How are churches addressing them?”
As those questions are answered, the congregations that are meeting or exceeding expectations will be asked to teach or model their ministries for others or possibly start new churches to cultivate disciples of Jesus Christ.
“I want the churches to be vibrant and not see Methodism as dying or irrelevant,” Haupert-Johnson said.
She and her husband have a daughter, Samantha.
Monroe takes charge of the South Central District, which includes Polk, Hillsborough and Pasco counties and part of Hernando. It is home to 83 churches and extension ministries. The new district superintendent is an author and most recently served as chaplain and director of religious life at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, where he received a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy. He has been an adjunct professor there and also at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
He holds additional degrees from Bethany Theological Seminary, Candler School of Theology, Jameson Christian College and United Theological Seminary. He grew up in Palatka, where he was a member of Emmanuel UMC.
Monroe was ordained as an elder in 1976 in the New York/Washington Conference of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. He transferred to the Florida Conference in 1982 and later was ordained as a UMC elder. His appointments in Florida include Scott Chapel, Melbourne; Lake City Parish; Ebenezer and Grace UM churches, Orlando; First UMC, Taft; The University UMC, Gainesville; and Stewart Memorial UMC, Daytona Beach.
In the conference, he has been chairperson of the Division of Elders, as well as director of the Florida Conference Course of Study in Gainesville. He has served as a trustee for the Florida United Methodist Foundation and the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home.
Like Haupert-Johnson, Monroe said he has been focusing on developing strategies to help churches in South Central become vital. He said he has been meeting with members of his District Leadership Team, one by one, and visiting one or two churches each week.
"One of our guiding principles is to be a district who is committed to meeting the Great Commission," Monroe said.
He and his wife, Paulette, have three grown children, Dana, Walter III and Aaron.
-- Susan Green is the managing editor of the Florida Conference Connection.