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Bishop Laurie Haller announced today that Rev. Harlan Gillespie will be the new Assistant to the Bishop for Administration, effective July 1, 2018. Gillespie, Superintendent for the North Central District, also currently serves as Dean of the Appointive Cabinet.
“The Assistant to the Bishop works with the Bishop in administering the life of the annual conference,” said Bishop Laurie. This includes representing the Bishop on conference administrative committees and at conference events, coordinating disciplinary, administrative, and judicial complaint processes, processing immigration requests on behalf of clergy and the conference, coordinating with the Bishop the Healthy Church Initiative and the L3 (loving, learning, leading) conference process, as well as resourcing district superintendents and district ministry teams.
Ordained as Elder and elected into full membership in the Iowa Annual Conference in 1989, Gillespie has served Plymouth-Rock Falls, Lake Park-Excelsior and St. Mark’s in Iowa City prior to becoming Lead Pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in 2004. He is now in his fourth year as a Conference Superintendent.
“I have a great sense of excitement,” Rev. Gillespie said. “My wife and I have enjoyed living in the North Central District for the last three-and-a-half, what will be four years - we grew up there and have really appreciated being in ministry with the people there. Like all new appointments, there will be a learning curve. I’ve observed the work of Bill Poland, and before him, Bob Burkhart and David Wendel as Assistants to the Bishop and have appreciated what they’ve done. I feel like I’m up to that learning curve...I’m excited about the possibility of what this brings.”
Gillespie succeeds Rev. Bill Poland as Assistant to the Bishop. Poland has been the Assistant to the Bishop since 2013 after serving as a Conference Superintendent for seven years and previous pastoral appointments since 1984. Poland was recently tabbed by Bishop Laurie to become Director of New Faith Communities, a position he will assume on January 1, 2018.
Rev. Bob Burkhart has been asked by Bishop Laurie to be an interim Assistant to the Bishop for Administration for six months, from January thru June 2018 as Rev. Gillespie concludes his tenure in the North Central District. “I feel honored to be asked to serve the church during this time of transition,” Burkhart said. “I pray that I will be able to provide Bishop Haller and the Iowa Conference with the manner of support that assists them in advancing the mission to which we are all called.”
Of Rev. Gillespie, Bishop Laurie observed, “Harlan will bring many gifts to the position of Assistant to the Bishop.” She went on to add, “He has an excellent track record of effective and fruitful ministry in the local churches that he has pastored. One who pays great attention to detail, he is also a careful listener, compassionate pastoral caregiver, and has the heart of a pastor. I will be honored to work with him as Assistant to the Bishop for Administration.”