USMB staff committed to serving churches

Mission & Ministry: De-centralized staff overcomes challenges, unified in ministry

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USMB staff members Donna Sullivan, right, who lives in WIchita, Kansas, and Lori Taylor, center, who lives in Bakersfield, California, register Pastor Tim Thiessen at the 2018 USMB National Convention. USMB staff work from five different locations. Photo: Janae Rempel

The USMB national staff, made up of only two full-time and four part-time employees, live and work in different parts of the U.S. rather than through one main office location. Being a de-centralized staff can be a challenge at times, yet the staff find ways to mitigate those challenges.

“We are in almost constant communication via email, text and sometimes phone,” says Donna Sullivan, one of the two full-time employees. “Our periodic Zoom meetings and occasional face-to-face meetings are very beneficial and serve to draw us closer together as friends and co-workers. With technology, it (living in different places) is certainly a viable option, and it works well.”

USMB staff members include Don Morris, national director who lives in Edmond, Oklahoma; Donna Sullivan, administrative secretary/bookkeeper/event planner living in Wichita, Kansas; Connie Faber, Christian Leader editor and Janae Rempel, CL assistant editor, who both live in Hillsboro, Kansas; Lori Taylor, executive assistant living in Bakersfield, California; and J.L. Martin, social media coordinator who lives in Hesston, Kansas.

Martin, who joined the staff in January, says, “As the newbie, I think the staff works well together. Everyone seems to have a specific gift that allows the staff to (function) well. This is also enhanced as we memorize a Scripture together and pray at 12:11 p.m. (from Romans 12:11, 12) each day.”

Staff member’s preference to live where they desire, often driven by family situations or a spouse’s job location, is the primary reason for being decentralized.

“When Janna and I moved to Edmond, it was due to the need to be near a good airport, but also because some of our children and grandchildren live in this area,” Morris says. “We didn’t want to move where we had no family. It’s actually worked quite well for us over the past 15 years.”

There are challenges for this small staff. Taylor says, “When working on an action item, there is a time delay for both parties, and the words it takes to describe the situation in an email are more easily misunderstood. Or it just takes more time to write than it would to say in person.”

Working hard to provide an array of services to USMB, the USMB staff is committed to maximizing the God-given ministry potential of local MB churches.

“We take seriously the mandate we were given at the 2016 national convention to focus on the three core commitments of evangelism/church multiplication, intentional disciple-making and leadership development,” says Morris. “I think this small staff, with limited work hours, does as much or more than a staff twice its size. These are dedicated and very gifted people,” he adds.

Taylor says serving churches is inspiring. “I appreciate when Don takes the time to remind us of our mission and the value each of us contributes through our positions. What motivates me the most is hearing stories of transformation in our churches or other agencies. These stories help me realize that what I do matters. The focus is helping our churches and pastors have everything they need to accomplish what they are called to do—minister to people.”

Sullivan feels the USMB staff is unified in their work to serve the USMB mission. “I feel we’re all committed to the ministry, the vision, our core values and our initiatives to help make this happen,” she says. “Even though each of us works hard in our specific area and location, we remain sensitive to other’s work and our joint work toward the mission. We want our work to complement and aid other’s work, not to hinder in any way. I think we feel we are all on the same team and are grateful to be…making a difference in our MB family and ultimately the kingdom.”

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