A personnel asset for USMB

New staff member J.L. Martin enjoys organization, creativity of bookkeeping and event planning

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J.L. Martin is USMB's new bookkeeper and event planner, where he says he enjoys the balance of organization and creativity. Martin has worked alongside retiring bookkeeper Donna Sullivan for almost a year and will fully take over the role following Sullivan's retirement in August. Photo: Janae Rempel Shafer

J.L. Martin has an affinity for numbers. But he paused his accounting career to serve 22 years in church ministry, most recently at Hesston (Kansas) MB Church.

When the opportunity came to assume USMB bookkeeping and event planning upon Donna Sullivan’s retirement, Martin accepted, giving him the opportunity to return to numbers in a different kind of ministry.

From accounting to pastoral ministry

Raised in Yates Center, Kansas, Martin says he discovered he enjoyed working with numbers in high school. He pursued a double major in business administration and accounting at Sterling (Kansas) College.

During this time, Martin sensed God’s call after serving with junior high youth at a church one summer. Knowing business and accounting degrees would be helpful in the church world, he continued his degree path but decided to go to Denver Seminary after earning his bachelor’s degree in 1998.

Martin kept his accounting skills sharp by serving as a staff accountant for two years while at seminary. He earned his master’s degree in youth and family ministry in 2001. He served four years as a youth pastor in Colorado, four years as an associate pastor in southeast Kansas and 14 years at Hesston MB Church (HMBC), initially as associate pastor and later as pastor of children and family.

He and his wife, Bethany, have four children.

A new opportunity

In 2019, while at HMBC, Martin began serving part-time as USMB social media coordinator. When Sullivan, USMB administrative secretary, bookkeeper and event planner, began considering retirement, she mentioned the job possibility to Martin.

“As she talked about what was included in her job, I quickly realized there’s no way to do all the things that she is doing,” Martin says.

Additional conversations changed the scope of the job, leading Martin to apply.

“(Bookkeeping and event planning are) two things that I have skills in,” he says. “Not having to do the three parts made that very attractive.”

Martin was offered the job and began working alongside Sullivan on Sept. 15, 2023. He will have worked with Sullivan for nearly a year prior to her retirement in August 2024.

Organization and creativity

Martin’s daily activities balance the financial side with event planning and social media. Responsibilities include bookkeeping, depositing and receipting donations, writing checks and sending weekly financial reports to USMB leaders. Event planning depends on the time of year. Current planning involves the upcoming Gathering 2024 in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Donna has done a great job of training, but she’s also been very good at letting me do a lot of the planning for Gathering with her very involved in that,” he says.

Martin says he enjoys the steadiness of bookkeeping and the creativity of event planning.

“Both of them require organization (and) administration,” he says. “Administration is one of my spiritual gifts.”

Following a training period in Wichita, Martin is working from his home office in Hesston.

“I’m very grateful and appreciative for the support of churches and individuals of USMB,” Martin says. “Their support allows us to continue to serve the churches in USMB well and to provide support and resources. I look forward to serving the USMB family in my role as event planner and bookkeeper.”

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