Within the Free Methodist Church, superintendents provide for vision alignment and implementation, leadership development, and guidance for the administration and growth of the church. To help facilitate the diverse needs of the Southern California conference, we have three superintendents who work together to fulfill these duties.
The story of the Church is one filled with opportunities, usually in the form of deep challenges to those who follow Christ. Some opportunities were taken. Some, regretfully, were passed over. It’s clear that we are currently in the middle of one of those times.
This year, we Superintendents have focused on providing encouragement and care for the leaders who are on the front lines of our Southern California mission field and who are living into the opportunities that surround them. Whether it’s providing clear direction to our pastors regarding COVID-19 with practical responses to help support their responsible leadership, or giving voice to the outcries of racial injustice and being ministers of reconciliation, we are committed to the health of our conference membership, leaders, and our communities so that each one of us may bring the Good News to each opportunity we face.
Church Health and Clergy Development
Throughout this year, we have called on our pastors to connect, encourage, and resource where possible on several fronts. We share the burdens of our leaders as they are being tapped and stretched to support people suffering not only from the immediate crises, but the compounded brokenness of the world.
Families are being torn apart through increased substance abuse, domestic violence, and economic fallout. Communities are being divided over political unrest and racial tensions that both need redemptive reconciliation. We are very proud of our pastors and leaders in the midst of all this. We have witnessed amazing resilience, creativity, adaptability, and compassion. Our leaders are staying engaged and pressing into the needs of their people and communities.
Please join us in praying for them daily.
To help resource our leaders, we have invited Dr. Chris Adams from the Center for Vocational Ministry to present to our pastors and leaders on our next pastoral Zoom call to address mitigating core health issues surrounding leading in crisis (8/06). We are also preparing to launch year two of our WiLD leaders development as part of our commitment to ongoing leadership development.
Our conference administrative staff continues to perform admirably and without interruption. On the one hand, already being a distributed workforce was a benefit, but each has experienced increased demand and stress due to the changes in their household rhythms like everyone else. They should be commended for their commitment and we hope to provide them with suitable recognition over the course of the Summer.
On a practical note, our team has intentionally looked for opportunities to continue healthy fiscal stewardship at the conference level and has successfully reduced spending by about 25% from the operating budget. This has helped to balance the deficit in giving resulting from both the reduced apportionment from the local church due to a decrease in giving and our gift to forego the March contribution. Some churches continued to send in their apportionment ($25,000) and we set it aside to use for any church who needs support. We are in conversation with a few churches at present about potential opportunities to provide assistance.
Responsive Leadership Through Uncertain Times
In view of the pressure our pastors are feeling from the polarizing effects of changing governmental restrictions on worship, we are working on some recommendations for our churches to consider as a creative and alternative methodology for supporting our people and expanding our reach. Church leaders have spent countless hours planning to reopen their doors but not nearly as much time reimagining what effective ministry involves if we may spend the next 18-36 months with varying degrees of restrictions on gathering.
It’s time to change the conversation.
We must begin by acknowledging that while physical gathering for worship is a privilege and a priority, it is not the foundation of being the body of Christ; we are so much more than this and the global church has assured us that it is true. The fulcrum of our ministry and effectiveness in our communities must be how we bring Christ to people and not merely about physically gathering for worship during this time. It would serve our mission better to refocus our energy and efforts on how to bring Christ to people through empowering others than to vainly hope we will return to in person gathering as a norm.
Making disciples and deploying each one with an empowered voice of God’s love to their individual and unique place of impact – home, work, neighborhood, affinity groups, and the like – is how the church was designed to grow from the beginning. This very well may be the opportunity for revival many have been praying for!
Please be in prayer with us as we continue to labor on behalf of our churches and seek the wisdom of God for how to be fruitful in these times and keep in step with the Spirit.
Charles Latchison serves as the lead pastor of Light & Life West Church, Long Beach, CA, which he and his wife Carolyn planted in 2003. Charles has served in ministry for 30 years and pastor ministry for 25 years. As well as, but not limited to his current pastoral ministry, he is also currently serving as a Superintendent of the Southern California Free Methodist Conference.
Charles received an Associates Degree in Christian Education from Boyce Bible College in Louisville, KY, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Ministry from Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, KY, Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Studies: Church Development from Azusa Pacific University and postgraduate studies with the School of Pastoral Nurture.
Charles and Carolyn got married in August of 2000. Their marriage brought together a blended family, one child each from previous relationships—Candyce and Jaymar. They have one son together named Christopher.
Glen Prior loves the church and lives out his personal call to Exalt the name of Jesus, Equip the saints for service, and Expand the Kingdom of God within the Free Methodist Church. A graduate of Azusa Pacific Seminary (M.Div), Glen is committed to building Christ-centered sustainable ministries beginning with the whole-formation of leaders through education, discipleship, and reflection and extending out to the best practices of leadership within the church.
Since 1994, he has served in executive ministry roles within the Free Methodist Church. He has twice filled the role of Executive Pastor, served as the Director of Business and Ministry Development for the FMC Southern California and in 2015 was appointed acting Superintendent over a conference of churches in Arizona and New Mexico. Most recently, in 2018, Glen was also elected to the Superintendent Team of the FMC Southern California Conference to lead a group of churches in fulfilling the mission of the church to Love God, Love People, and Make Disciples.
Glen is husband to Koni and in 2019 they celebrated 30 years of marriage. Together they have two daughters and the family loves to play music, lead worship, and enjoy the company of friends. It is a privilege and honor to be given the opportunity to serve the church of Jesus Christ and shepherd the people of God.
Pastor Fraser and JoAnne, along with their two children, Madisen and Jeffrey, have been leading and attending CCF since June 1997.
After graduating from San Diego State University in 1989 and pursuing a career in business, Pastor Fraser sensed a call to ministry. In 1993, that calling finally manifested into full-time ministry as the Venter’s served on the pastoral staff at Light and Life Free Methodist Church in Long Beach in various ministry positions. In the summer of 1997, they were asked to lead Cucamonga Christian Fellowship.
Fraser, currently serves as a stationed Conference Superintendent in Southern California while continuing as the Lead Pastor of Cucamonga Christian Fellowship. Also, Fraser is near the completion of his Doctor of Ministry degree at Azusa Pacific Seminary.
JoAnne is a business director for a national company and has worked in sales for 37 years. In addition to her full-time job, JoAnne enjoys fulfilling her calling to ministry with Fraser and is involved in worship and prayer ministries of CCF. Their greatest joy is worshipping Jesus, loving one another, travel, music, exercise and spending time with their awesome kids.