New director says helping people, ministries connect is key



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

New director says helping people, ministries connect is key

Aug. 1, 2008   News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  
tparham@flumc.org  Orlando {0893}

NOTE: A headshot of the Rev. Beth Fogle-Miller is available at http://www.flumc.info/photo_gallery2.shtml.

An e-Review Feature
By Jenna De Marco**

The high calling of full-time, appointed ministry within The United Methodist Church requires plenty of stamina, and sometimes it leads a pastor to choose to take a break for a season of personal renewal.

Rev. Beth Fogle-Miller
The Rev. Elizabeth (Beth) Fogle-Miller recently returned to that ministry after nearly four years of voluntary leave, which she took after 20 years of service.

“I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go back into a local church, and I was so tired when I went on leave my sense of call evaporated,” Fogle-Miller said. “(Resting) is so much better than just going under. … I could tell I was running out of energy.”

Fogle-Miller decided it was time to return to ministry, but instead of serving a local church, she has been appointed as director of Connectional Ministries for the Florida Conference. She assumed that position July 1.

Her predecessor is the Rev. Dr. Anne Burkholder, who left the position for an appointment as associate dean of Methodist studies at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. Burkholder’s responsibilities will include building relationships with annual conferences and regions, mentoring students seeking commissioning and working with faculty on the formation of curriculum.

Fogle-Miller comes to Connectional Ministries with experience serving local churches in both the Tennessee and Florida conferences. In 1991 she and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Jim Fogle-Miller, became the first clergy couple in the Florida Conference appointed as co-pastors, serving at Arlington United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. Jim now serves as a state chaplain for the National Guard.

As director of Connectional Ministries, Fogle-Miller is responsible for interpreting and applying the Florida Conference mission and vision.

“The five portions of the mission statement are addressed by several different groups of staff,” Fogle-Miller said. “I see my role as helping them all collaborate and discover where those areas intersect.”

With many different teams working together, Fogle-Miller said her short-term goal is to get to know the staff and what each person does.

“Most immediately, I am getting acquainted with the varying staff people and their portfolios and helping them understand and discover how their areas fit with the overall vision and defining and fine-tuning how their areas fit with the overall structure,” Fogle-Miller said.

Promoting the connectional function of the Florida Conference will be a key focus.

“I nurture the connection and help the varying connectional ministries communicate with each other so that they can resource and network and become more effective,” Fogle-Miller said. “We’ve got a lot of neat ministries going on that folks may or may not know about that are a part of what we do.”

The Rev. Beth Fogle-Miller (standing) gets to know Yohanka Cabezas and the work she does as a member of the Florida Conference staff. Learning about each conference staff member’s work and how it fits in with the overall vision and mission of the conference is one of the first tasks for Fogle-Miller as newly-appointed director of Florida Conference Connectional Ministries. Photo by Caryl Kelley. Photo #08-0948.

One of Fogle-Miller’s strengths lies in her ability to view The United Methodist Church as a connectional ministry, according to Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker.

“I think Beth thinks and experiences the church connectionally, and I believe she has an almost intuitive feel of the connection that exists between clergy and congregations and laity,” Whitaker said. “That intuition has been shaped by her experience — she grew up in the church and was very active in youth leadership.”

Whitaker believes Fogle-Miller’s particular set of gifts will enable her to do well in the role at this particular moment in time.

“There has to be freedom in that role because the church is ever-changing and moving to another place, so the responsibilities and the focus of the person in that role are going to be changing in the role over a period of time,” Whitaker said.

Along with fostering connectional relationships, Fogle-Miller will examine how the Florida Conference uses its financial and human resources.

“I help make sure our resources are aligned with the vision and mission,” Fogle-Miller said. “Are we putting our money where our mouth is? Are we putting our staff and energy on what we say is important?”

After watching many changes over the years — Fogle-Miller’s attendance at Annual Conference spans 35 years, dating back to when she was 15 years old — Fogle-Miller believes the church must continue to evaluate its ministry.

“We just have to keep learning; moving forward in how we do things,” she said. “It’s amazing how different we do things, and I don’t think we’ve finished saying goodbye to some things that don’t work very well.”

During her leave, Fogle-Miller said she had an opportunity to experience personal and professional changes of her own, including becoming an independent sales director for Mary Kay, a skin care and cosmetics company.

“I learned a lot about leadership development and organization (from Mary Kay),” Fogle-Miller said.

When she first learned Whitaker wanted her to consider leading Connectional Ministries instead of serving in a local church appointment, she asked herself a question the Mary Kay organization taught her: “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to consider doing this at this time?”

That question “surfaces the objections,” she said. “And there really was no reason other than the inconvenience of moving.”

With the challenge of physically relocating from DeLand to Lakeland over, the family is settling into their home. Their daughter, Carlene, will be a senior in high school. Meanwhile, Jim will continue in his role as a military chaplain.

Fogle-Miller emphasizes she is grateful for the opportunity.

“I think it will be an asset that I have been outside the local church for a while and also was involved in an organization that is not the local church,” she said.

Anyone who would like to communicate with Fogle-Miller ought to feel welcome to do so, Whitaker said.

“I would say be aware that Beth is a person who is a good listener, and one of the things that she’s going to be doing for some time is listening to the people, and I know she would welcome hearing from anyone who would like to share some of their insights,” Whitaker said.

Fogle-Miller may be reached at beth.fogle-miller@flumc.org or 800-282-8011, extension 103.

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*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tenn.




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