The Rev. Micki McCorkle’s heart for small churches makes her an ideal choice to be the new Five Rivers and Parsons districts superintendent, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. said.
“She has experience with small-church ministry and development,” the bishop said. “She has a lot of knowledge about rural and county-seat life, and she has a passion for working with laity and developing their leadership.”
McCorkle, currently pastor of El Dorado Trinity UMC, will succeed the Rev. Dr. Tom Brady, who will shift to become Kansas City District superintendent. Both changes will take effect July 1.
Combined, the two districts McCorkle will lead cover most of southeast Kansas.
Prior to her El Dorado appointment, McCorkle spent four years as small-membership church coordinator with the congregational excellence team based in the former Great Plains Conference office in Wichita.
Small congregations are vital to the work of the conference, the bishop said, as 650 of the 1,000 churches in the Great Plains have a membership of 50 or fewer.
“Micki’s expertise will help us develop strategic visions and creative ways to help these ministries stay vital and engaged,” Bishop Saenz said. “In many of our communities, the Methodist churches are the last church in town, and they provide spiritual care, spiritual leadership and leadership overall. We need to stay vital there.”
McCorkle began in ordained ministry at the two-point charge of Claflin and Hoisington in central Kansas, before becoming an associate at both Wichita First and Independence First UMCs, later serving as pastor at Protection UMC in southwest Kansas.
The Winfield native graduated from Southwestern College and earned master’s degrees from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in ministry and Antioch University in leadership.
It was at seminary, she said, that she wanted to learn more about small churches.
“I wanted to make sure I was ready for that kind of setting,” she said of her first appointments. “I loved it. I loved the people and learning about farming and ranching and all that kind of stuff.”
McCorkle said she is a believer in small churches.
“They can be just as vital and vibrant as big churches,” she said, “it just looks a little differently.
“I’ve often said that inner-city churches and rural churches, although they may look different, have a lot in common,” she added.
The 58-year-old said colleagues through the years have told her she’d make a good DS, but “I hadn’t paid much attention to it” and was surprised to get the call from Bishop Saenz.
She said she’s looking forward to getting to know the churches and pastors in her two districts, “listen to them and hear what their dreams are for the future.
“Hopefully we can work together to continue to build vibrancy in those communities and work on justice issues,” McCorkle said. “There’s a lot of poverty in that part of Kansas, and I want to see how The United Methodist Church can lead and eliminate poverty in southeast Kansas.”
Her husband, the Rev. Ed Friesen, is assigned as pastor at Wichita St. Paul's UMC for the current appointive year. They have two adult children.
McCorkle will be one of four new district superintendents on the appointive cabinet for the 2021-22 year, joining the Rev. Zach Anderson, Hays and Dodge City districts; the Rev. Dr. Charles Murithi, Prairie Rivers and a portion of the Elkhorn Valley District; and the Rev. Karen Rice Ratzlaff, Hutchinson and Salina districts, as well as Brady’s new assignment in Kansas City.
Bishop Saenz said that although the departing cabinet members — Rev. Lance Clay, Rev. Don Hasty and Rev. Dr. Anne Gatobu — will be missed, he is looking forward to working with the new cabinet. The Rev. Dee Williamston, current superintendent of the Salina and Hutchinson districts, will remain on the cabinet as the successor to the Rev. Nancy Lambert as director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop.
“I’m excited about the new team, so to speak, and all their gifts and graces,” the bishop said. “It just amazes me how the cabinet changes, sometimes year to year, and personnel changes, and each one of them brings a unique skillset, ministry experience, expertise and perspective to the work that helps our cabinet continue to improve the conference by making strategic appointments of our clergy, helping the churches in mission and ministry.”
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