Greetings from the Free Methodist Church in Southern California (FMCSC) Board of Administration. We were excited to gather virtually at Annual Conference in May and are looking forward to reconnecting with everyone in the very near future. We wanted to send you a message to give you a brief update on a few structural changes in the conference and to ask you to reserve some dates for reconnecting.
Since Annual Conference 2018, you have been served by an amazing Superintendent Team of Charles Latchison, Glen Prior, and Fraser Venter. Originally, Superintendent Latchison and Superintendent Venter were stationed superintendents still leading their local congregations; Light and Life West and Cucamonga Christian Fellowship respectively. Superintendent Prior served you as the full-time Lead Superintendent. At the end of last year one of our local churches had a need and Superintendent Prior stepped in to serve as the Interim Executive Pastor of Centerpoint. This, consequently, shifted Superintendent Prior to serve the conference in a stationed capacity along with Superintendent Latchison and Superintendent Venter.
With the FMCSC moving to a single superintendent model at Annual Conference 2022 (AC22), Superintendent Prior humbly withdrew his name from consideration in support of the conference’s refocused priorities. After prayer and reflection, Glen also recognized that it was time for him to initiate an earlier than expected transition out of his role as Superintendent both to attend to some family needs and to prioritize a sabbatical rest after a twelve year service with the Conference before transitioning to the next opportunity. He submitted this direction to the Superintendent Team, Area Bishop, and Board of Administration who were all unanimously supportive of honoring his request for an early transition as of June 30, 2021. We cannot express enough of deepest gratitude for all the ways in which Superintendent Prior has served the Free Methodist Church. We will honor the Priors at one of our upcoming gatherings but if you would like to send a message you can reach out to Superintendent Prior at email@example.com.
FMCSC Conference Structure Through AC22
While we have experienced structural changes over the past year, our mission remains constant and we remain committed to serving and supporting our Pastors and casting vision for our shared Kingdom work. Knowing that Superintendent Prior’s transition would increase the workload of the Superintendent Team, Bishop Matthew Whitehead met with the Superintendent Team and the Board Chair to collaborate on how the FMCSC will be led until next May. In addition to supporting the ongoing operations of the conference, we identified a clear need for an increase in pastoral care, connection, and an elevated focus on our ministerial training and appointment processes.
We have full confidence in Superintendent Latchison and Superintendent Venter’s ability to accomplish these priorities, however we shared a concern for their workload and the sustainability of their current pace. For that reason, we discussed filling the vacancy with an Interim Superintendent to actively serve the conference until Annual Conference 2022. With the Spirit’s guidance, Bishop Whitehead has asked Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Sato to serve in the role of Interim Superintendent in a full-time capacity. Reverend Sato humbly accepted and in cooperation with the Board of Administration, the Bishop made the appointment. We are confident that this team will serve the conference well with Superintendents Latchison and Venter focusing on pastoral care and connection, Pastor Refugio Sanchez focusing on our connection with our Spanish Speaking Pastors, and Interim Superintendent Sato focusing on operations, administration, and board empowerment.
Through all these conversations and meetings, the word “Reconnect” keeps bubbling to the top. I think we can all agree it’s been too long since we have enjoyed one another’s company! With this in mind, we are setting a few times on the calendar for gathering, eating, celebrating, and reconnecting together. In the coming months we will give specific details, but we are planning Fall and Spring Pastoral Retreats. Superintendent Latchison will also be leading a prayer gathering in October with Pastor Laura Warth. More details and specific dates will be released soon.
We are excited for this next season and look forward to reconnecting with each of you!
Colleen Hurley-Bates, FMCSC Board Chair
Matt Whitehead, FMCUSA Bishop
Charles Latchison, FMCSC Superintendent
Fraser Venter, FMCSC Superintendent
On Behalf of the Board of Administration, Superintendent Team, and Area Bishop
A Message From Superintendent Glen Prior
It has been an honor to serve with the women and men of God who have partnered in the mission of the FMC over these past years. I do not take my decision lightly but I believe it is necessary and the right timing for us. I am confident that the current conference leadership including the Board of Administration will continue to lead strong, minister well, and see to the expansion of the work of Jesus through the church. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity afforded me to participate in this wonderful and meaningful work and for the generosity of the board in helping us to transition well.
Greetings from Interim Superintendent Jonathan Sato
I am truly humbled at the opportunity to serve the Conference as the Interim Superintendent through Annual Conference 2022. Charles, Fraser, and I are excited for this next season and have high expectations for what the Lord will accomplish through the conference. I would like to personally thank Glen Prior for his years of mentorship, Bishop Whitehead for the confidence to serve in this capacity, and Charles and Fraser for welcoming me wholeheartedly onto the Superintendent Team. I look forward to connecting with each of you and partnering together to live into our values as Free Methodists and in preparing the conference for a new season of leadership.
I was born and raised in the Free Methodist Church. My father was a Free Methodist Minister in the Pacific Coast Japanese Conference (PCJC) from before I was born. My parents met as my father took a mission’s trip to Japan and my mother was serving as the local Free Methodist Translator. I went to Azusa Pacific University for my undergraduate degree and graduate degree (M.Div). It was there that I met my wife, Jenn, and we are blessed to parent three wonderful daughters; Adeline, Charlotte, and Eleanor. We have served the conference since 2013 as the Executive Minister and the Assistant Superintendent for Administration. We look forward to what this next year holds for us personally but more importantly for us as a conference.