Changes at the Conference Center, Part II

October 29, 2013

The 2013 Session of the Iowa Annual Conference mandated workforce reductions at the Conference Center and charged the Administrative Cabinet (Bishop Trimble, Bill Poland, Karen Dungan, Todd Weber, Art McClanahan and Joni Mardesen) with determining where reductions needed to be made and making changes in conference staffing to effect those changes.

As decisions were being made about reductions in work force, the Administrative Cabinet reviewed the work of the entire staff at the Conference Center and considered many questions, including:  How can we work more efficiently?  What essential services need to be preserved?  Where can responsibilities be shifted/combined/altered so that we are providing needed services and incorporating efficiencies?  How can our decisions better position us to address the strategic priorities adopted at the Annual Conference Session?  

In early October, an e-mail was sent to the conference about the initial reductions in force and changes that were in process.  This e-mail is to give the conference a summary update on further decisions that are being made, including hiring staff to fill vacancies.  

When hiring new personnel has occurred, several methods for recruiting and hiring have been utilized, including: advertising positions internally and hiring from within; recruiting individuals directly because the skills and attributes of particular individuals are uniquely suited for the position; and utilizing a personnel consulting firm to assist in the search and recruiting processes for some positions.  These methods, as well as advertising and recruiting externally, will continue to be utilized as decisions are made about which method will best meet the need of each particular circumstance.  Updates will continue to be communicated to the conference as positions are filled and further changes are implemented.

What follows is a summary, by department, of changes currently underway.

Administrative Services:

With ever-changing technology and the dramatic shift to electronic communications from printed correspondence, usage of the Central Services Department decreased significantly and steadily over the past few years.  As a result of this continuing decline, the Central Services area of the Administrative Services department was eliminated, along with the position of Director of Central Services.  Ordinary daily printing and mailing needs will be processed internally within each conference department, with larger internal and externally requested projects outsourced to an appropriate vendor.  During the transition period, Roland Minshall will assume the contact role for any Central Services department related questions.

Cynthia Davis has been named the Conference Center Coordinator/Administrative Services Assistant. This merged position will involve supporting Administrative Services staff as well as responsibilities that include receptionist services for the Conference Center, managing the schedule for Conference Center meeting rooms, coordination and maintenance of the online Conference calendar, Hospitality tours, and other general Conference Center operational matters.  

The position of Accounts Receivable Accountant (in the Administrative Services department), which was vacant due to staff resignation related to new employment elsewhere, was not filled.  Responsibilities associated with this position were reallocated among other current remaining Conference positions (see additional explanation regarding this matter in the Human Resources section below).

Connectional Ministries Council:

As of early August, the positions of Leadership Development Minister for Young Adult and Generational Ministry and Leadership Development Minister for Social Justice and Mission were vacant.  The funding available will not support retaining them as full-time positions, but will support each position at ½ time. 

In consultation with Bishop Trimble and members of the Administrative Cabinet, both positions have been redeveloped utilizing an Asset-based Community Development model.  These staff persons will not directly resource CCMC agencies nor will they spend significant time attending meetings, except for the purpose of dialogue and sharing information.  The persons in these positions will be visiting congregations, communities of faith and individuals to learn what they are doing in youth/young adult and mission/justice/advocacy ministry, what is working/not working, what challenges they are facing and what successes they are experiencing, and share the stories of these ministries throughout the conference.  They also will begin networking people with one another around shared gifts, challenges and opportunities.  This is an experiment that will lead to learning about what is happening in the conference, and what annual conference staffing and programming can do better to support ministry in our congregations and to support the fulfilling the strategic priorities adopted at Annual Conference Session this year.  


Nathaniel Mason has been hired to fill the position of Leadership Development Minister for Young Adult and Generational Ministries; he began his work on September 30th.  


Colleen McRoberts has been hired to fill the position of Leadership Development Minister for Social Justice and Mission; she began her work on October 28th.


One of the responsibilities carried by the Leadership Development Minister for Social Justice and Mission was engaging with the Iowa Legislature during its session, to inform conference members of pending legislation, how our UMC positions speak to proposed legislation and how to engage the political process.  This will not be done by the person serving ½ time; other options for how this important resourcing might be provided is being explored.


Episcopal Office-Administration:

Linda Remster has left the Episcopal Office as the Administrative Assistant to the Assistant to the Bishop for Administration, as the position in the Episcopal Office is being reconfigured to support the Communications Office and reduced to 27 hours/week. The position was announced and applications have been received and the hiring process is going forward. The person hired will provide administrative support to the Assistant to the Bishop for Administration and the Communications Office. Those responsibilities will include general office support, vouchering expenses; scheduling and supporting meetings related to the Communications Office and the Episcopal Office. In addition to these responsibilities the person in this position will interface with District Offices and the other areas of the Conference Center.

Linda continues to serve the conference in the position of HR/Benefit Coordinator (see below).

Episcopal Office-Communications:

The Communications Ministry Team has been reorganized to reflect both the adopted Strategic Priorities and the current financial circumstances.  The “Communications Manager” position was eliminated.  Reflecting the new Priorities, a half-time “Content Manager” position and a half-time “Web & Social Media Manager” position were created.  Administrative support, formerly handled by the Communications Assistant, a position that was also eliminated, will be covered as part of the shared responsibilities of the Administrative Assistant to the Assistant to the Bishop for Administration.  Graphics layout, design and major video productions will be handled on a contracted, outsourced basis.

Lisa Bourne is our Content Manager and Jehan Bostick is our Web & Social Media Manager

Episcopal Office-Human Resources:

With the resignation of the Accounts Payable Specialist and the decision not to fill the vacant position (as mentioned in the Administrative Services section above), the Human Resources/Benefits Office assumed responsibility for the church direct billing beginning in May of 2013.  Throughout the summer, the HR/Benefits Office was working diligently to identify process changes for improved efficiencies.  

Then, September brought more change to the HR/Benefits Office with the resignation of the HR-Benefit Coordinator, Kris Wyatt.  Following notice of the resignation, it was determined the position would be posted internally, not only to benefit from the knowledge and experience of our professional staff, but to provide a career opportunity for existing staff members.   Linda Remster, the previous Administrative Assistant to the Asst. to the Bishop for Administration, has transferred to the HR/Benefits Office and began her new role as the HR-Benefit Coordinator on October 1, 2013.