On July 16, 2018, Cathy Musser assumed leadership of General Conference Board from chair Wanda Heise, who had led since 2014 and served on the board 12 years. Formerly board secretary, Cathy has served on the board for eight years.
Thankful for their visionary leadership, we took a few minutes to chat with our successive board chairs about their transition — and the future of the BIC U.S.
Q. Thank you, Wanda, for leading our denominational family with vision and skill these last few years! First, what is the purpose of General Conference Board?
The General Conference Board (GCB) provides governance/structure to free the Brethren in Christ U.S. body for ministry. We are commissioned to do the work of the delegates between General Assemblies.
More specifically, the board oversees legal and business decisions and the financial state of the denomination. We also work alongside, support, and hold the national director accountable for his roles.
Q: What would you consider some of the board’s greatest accomplishments during your time as leader? What have been the greatest challenges?
Our board is a great team, and I’m thankful for what we have accomplished together:
- Addressing the pension shortfall with the Honor the Past: Build the Future ministry campaign. For this, I thank the treasurers of the past and present for being faithful in keeping the task before us.
- Forming a governance committee to address the tedious work of reviewing the bylaws. We also began creating a schedule to review and revise the entire Manual of Doctrine and Government.
- Creating best practices for the board. Examples include meeting reviews, exit interviews with board members, and ongoing lists of potential nominees for future board members.
- Instituting regular reviews of the national director. A time-consuming but important task was that of reviewing the work of the national director, setting goals with him, and determining to invite him for another term of service.
Here are some of the challenges we faced:
- Helping the board know each other well enough to be free to work together honestly and openly while only meeting four times during a biennium. We all come from different parts of the country. And, while we are all Brethren in Christ, we have differing perspectives and experiences that are both a strength and a challenge of working together.
- Completing the necessary work in a tight time frame.
- Supporting a very busy national director who carries many concerns and responsibilities within the Church family.
Q. What is your invocation for Cathy as she takes the helm?
I pray Cathy enjoys the work of this board as they continue to direct the governance work of the Church together. I hope she can find creative avenues to keep the structures of the denomination relevant for our variety of ministry visions and styles.
The challenge of working together as an entire body is a large one. I will be praying for the new board as they work together.
Q. Cathy, thank you for working on behalf of the BIC U.S. family using your leadership gifts. Please tell us a little about yourself!
I have participated in BIC churches my entire life. The BIC church in Palmyra, Pennsylvania (Encounter Church), is where I was raised and where the foundation of my faith was formed. There I also saw my parents model commitment to the church and to ministry. Over the years, I have also been a part of Fellowship Chapel BIC Church, New York, New York; Ashland BIC Church, Ashland, Ohio; Upland BIC Church, Upland, California; New Community Church, Chino, California; GracePoint, Ontario, California.
After attending Messiah College, I moved to the Bronx, New York, for three years of BIC voluntary service. These years changed my life: I learned so much about myself and about ministry. While I was in New York, I met my husband, Rod, who also was part of the Bronx voluntary service unit. The things that we learned while in the Bronx have greatly affected our decisions and ministry philosophy. Following Rod’s graduation from seminary, we moved to Southern CA to be a part of the church planting team for New Community BIC. I currently attend GracePoint BIC.
In the local church, I have served in many ways: as Christian Education director, worship leader, deacon, Sunday school teacher, and welcome and hospitality coordinator. Rod and I have led small home groups for the past 30 years and team teach Financial Peace classes.
For the Pacific Conference, I served on the Pacific Conference board of congregational life and on the Pacific Conference board of directors. For the last 15 years, I’ve served on the Southern CA MCC Relief Sale board. For the past nine years, I have been the auction coordinator for the sale.
We have two married children, Jeremy and Megan. No grandchildren yet … I am still waiting. 🙂
Q. What do you see as key priorities for General Conference Board and the denomination in the next couple of years?
We are positioned for an exciting future. With the successful fundraising campaign for the pension deficit, we can now dream about and plan for the future. As a board, we need to be proactive about making decisions that support and empower our leaders and our local churches.
With the current climate in our country, it is very easy to let the many issues challenging the Church divide us. It is crucial for us as a board and as a denomination to promote unity within our diversity.
Q. Why are you excited about the mission of BIC U.S.?
We live in a world filled with violence and anger, and in a country where people have more and more but are less and less satisfied. Our society constantly tells us that it’s all about you — and about what you can accumulate. Who we are as a Church speaks directly to what we see going on around us. Our Core Values of peace; simple living; experiencing God’s love and grace; and belonging to a community of faith can really resonate with those who are hurting.
We have the opportunity to spread light in our communities. People are realizing the emptiness that still exists in their lives and are searching for something meaningful. Thus, who we are as a denomination addresses so many of the misconceptions in our world today.