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Craig Smelser elected Florida Conference Treasurer

Craig Smelser elected Florida Conference Treasurer


Conference News

The Council on Finance and Administration unanimously recommended Craig Smelser as the Interim Conference Treasurer, effective Jan. 1, 2021.

On June 11 2021, the Annual Conference elected Smelser to become the next Conference Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services. 
Craig Smelser
Craig Smelser
The announcement followed an extensive national search by the search committee that included reviewing more than 35 resumes. After conducting multiple interviews, committee members felt it was clear that Smelser was the top candidate.

The committee sent its unanimous recommendation to the CF&A, which wholeheartedly agreed with the choice.

This vital position oversees all financial aspects of the Florida Conference. The role is also responsible for overseeing the administrative functions, including Human Resources and Benefits, Facilities Management, Information Technology, and Risk Management. 

The Treasurer serves as a relational leader, responsible for casting a vision for the Conference while also bringing collaborative and decisive leadership to this role.

Smelser joined the Conference in 2008 as Controller, working alongside Mickey Wilson and Tony Prestipino respectively.  Craig has overseen the accounting and financial reporting for the Florida Annual Conference during his twelve years as Controller. He has proven himself to be a strategic leader and partner in ministry.

"Craig Smelser has helped to shape many of the administrative practices that have helped the Florida Conference move toward sustainability and transparency over the past twelve years," Florida Conference Resident Bishop Ken Carter said. "He will be a superb Treasurer."

Smelser gives the Conference needed skill, experience, and steadiness.

"In a time of uncertainty and change all around us, the Florida Conference will be blessed by Craig's leadership and the continuity he will provide in the years ahead," said Alex Shanks, Assistant to Bishop Carter.

Smelser said working closely with Conference financial leaders prepared him for the task ahead.

"It is an honor to be called to share in the leadership of the Florida Conference and stewardship of the financial abundance with which God has blessed the Conference, especially during this time of great uncertainty and change," he said.

"Also, I believe my being Controller during the times that Mickey and Tony were Treasurer has given me unique training on how to provide financial leadership that will bless the future of the Florida Conference and the Kingdom of God."

Smelser received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Harding University and a Master of Accountancy from Florida Southern College.

He and Belinda Smelser have been married for 34 years.  Belinda has taught for 30 years and is currently the Math/Science Coach at Lake Alfred Polytech Academy.

They have two grown sons, Nick and Chris, and one grandchild, Kailee.

"She is a joy," Smelser said.

Nick has been married to Tamra for nine years and lives in Garner, North Carolina, where he is a Men's Wearhouse store manager.

Chris is a student at the University of South Florida, majoring in Medical Sciences, and works part-time for the Conference.

Smelser assumes this new role at a critical time in the Florida Conference history.

Churches and members face challenges from the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I see the relationships I have built with the Bishop, Cabinet, Conference staff, district offices and many local church leaders throughout the years of my service to the Florida Conference as a big plus as I begin to serve in this new role," he said.


Harriet Mayes
Harriet S. Mayes, Church Administrator, First United Methodist Church-Lakeland, Chair of Search Committee, Outgoing Chair, Council on Finance and Administration: I am so excited about our choice of Craig Smelser as our Conference Treasurer. The search process was exhaustive and after receiving over 35 application packets, reviewing 20. After the final interviews were complete, it was evident that Craig was the absolute standout in the group. Craig is highly qualified, not only in his abilities but also in his work with the Florida Conference for the past 12 years. He knows our Conference, our local churches and ministries, believes in the United Methodist Church's mission, and at the center is a man with a servant's heart. I am honored to have been involved in the search, the recommendation to CFA, and this important announcement to Florida United Methodists. On a side note but no less important, I am so grateful that Mickey Wilson was willing to step up again and help lead the Conference during an unprecedented time.
Cynthia Weems
Cynthia Weems, South East District Superintendent, Member of the Search Committee, Cabinet Liaison to the Committee on Finance and Administration: Having worked with Craig over the last five years as a district superintendent, I can confidently say that the Florida Conference will remain in the very best of hands under his capable leadership.  I have the utmost confidence in Craig's abilities, integrity, and thoughtfulness as he leads with us in the days to come
Loida Divine
Loida J. Divine, Senior Co-Pastor, Lake Deaton UMC, The Villages, Member of the Search Committee: As a pastor, I was very impressed with the integrity of the selection process, and our Conference goals to find the right person who fits the vision to make disciples in a new era and new challenges. I am very excited to welcome Craig to this position.

Mickey Wilson
Milton E. (Mickey) Wilson, Interim Treasurer: Craig has served the Florida Conference well for twelve years. I was blessed to work with Craig for almost eight of those twelve years. I applaud those engaged in the search process and complement their final choice. Certainly, Craig has all the credentials, qualifications, and experience necessary to be Treasurer. He also has a love for the Conference and understands the importance of our local churches play in the UMC's ministry and mission. I could not be more pleased and congratulate the committee and Craig and his wonderful family. The Conference is blessed to have Craig as its Treasurer.
Sharon Austin
Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin, Director of Connectional and Justice Ministries, Member of the Search Committee, Ex Officio to the Council on Finance and Administration: The decision to offer the position of Conference Treasurer to Craig Smelser reflects a strategic move that will bless the Florida Conference now and in the future.  He embodies business acumen and humility in his leadership. He understands and supports our vision of sustainable, vital congregations and missions. He is a willing servant leader with whom I’ve had the privilege to work closely since his arrival. I am excited that we will continue our ministry, of being On Mission Together! Praise the Lord!
Alice Williams
Alice Williams, Florida Conference Lay Leader: I am delighted at Craig’s interim appointment as Conference Treasurer and look forward to it being ratified at Annual Conference in 2021. His tenure with the Florida Annual Conference and tutelage under the past two Conference treasurers gives him remarkable insight into the needs of our churches, ministries, missions, and Fresh Expressions. Craig brings his own gifts and graces to the table, and I believe his unique skill set is exactly what will enable us to be good stewards, for such a time as this.
David Miller
Rev. David R.  Miller, Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church of Winter Park, Chair of the Conference Council of Finance & Administration: I am thrilled that Craig will be serving as our interim Conference Treasurer. In this challenging season of pandemic, having a leader who knows us and embodies our mission is a real gift. Having a servant who is as talented and dedicated as Craig is a double blessing. Our interview process was very intentional, comprehensive and prayerful.  Craig was clearly the best fit for the needs of our churches in the coming years.  As a pastor, I am assured that his experience and talent as a pastor and an accountant will help us all to be good stewards of the abundance that God has entrusted us with. I am thankful for all that our past Conference treasurers have accomplished on our behalf.  I know that Craig will build upon their work in a significant way.  And that he will do so with intentionality and grace.  I am pleased that our interim Conference Treasurer will be someone who will be understanding and sympathetic to all that our churches are facing in this season.
Judith Pierre Okerson
Deaconess Judith Pierre-Okerson, President of Florida Conference United Methodist Women and South East District Lay Leader: I welcome the search committee’s decision to recommend Craig as the next Treasurer for the Florida Conference. I believe Craig is called to serve in that position for such a time as this.

-- Joe Henderson is News Content Editor for

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