Bishop Saenz looks forward to work with General Board of Global Ministries

David Burke


Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. says he’s excited about the possibilities in the next quadrennium in his appointment to the General Board of Global Ministries.

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. confers with fellow bishops at the special session of the General Conference in February in St. Louis. File photos by Todd Seifert

“The first quadrennium, I focused on the annual conference and being present and getting to know the pastors and the churches and the context,” Bishop Saenz said of the 2016-2019 term. “This quadrennium, I really want to be more involved in the general agency level in something I’m deeply passionate about, with an agency that partners with God and God’s activity in the world. General Board of Global Ministries does that in many ways.”

The GBGM oversees missionaries, disaster response and recovery, evangelism and global health, among its 15 areas of impact. 

It also helps with new church starts, including 1,000 new faith communities in Africa, Europe and Latin America, Bishop Saenz said.

“There’s a lot of work to be done there in Latin America, which is something I have a passion for,” he said.

The bishop also praised the GBGM’s work in health initiatives, including sanitation and giving people access to clean water.

“They’re heavy into education, bringing education to people in different communities which improves the qualities of their lives,” Bishop Saenz added.

Thomas Kemper, general secretary of GBGM, praised Bishop Saenz’s experience in both the Rio Texas Conference as well as the Great Plains.

“He knows first-hand about the importance of new church development and achieving congregational and community vitality,” Kemper wrote in an email. “He did exemplary work as director of the Mission Vitality Center in Rio Texas and, earlier, as a pastor notably addressed the issues of economic security and job training as mission concerns. His insights into the theological and practical aspects of mission will enrich our global perspectives and partnerships centered in Jesus Christ.”

Kemper also praised the bishop’s “strong sense of what it means to be a faith-centered, connectional United Methodist Church, incorporating great ethnic, cultural and ideological diversity.”

Thomas Kemper greets Bishop Saenz in St. Louis.

“His leadership in Great Plains since the disruptive 2019 Special General Conference has marked him as a prophetic ambassador for a future church united in love and service to Christ,” Kemper added.

Bishop Saenz said he was anticipating working with the worldwide reach of the GBGM.

“The General Board of Global Ministries is a connector that connects people and churches with God’s word throughout the world,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to being a part of that, and being intimately acquainted and involved with the global work of the United Methodist Church.”

Bishop Saenz said he believes his work with GBGM will be felt in the Great Plains Conference.

“I plan to get involved. Of course, I can’t be involved in everything, but I plan to select one or two areas where I can really focus my attention and participate in the work of the United Methodist Church in ways that can make a difference in peoples’ lives,” he said. “I see myself either leading some efforts or initiatives or a strong proponent of an issue like that, not just internationally and throughout the U.S., but here in our annual conference.

“Our annual conference people are very committed to missions. This is something that is our strength and our passion,” the bishop continued. “Being linked with the General Board of Global Ministries is going to be a natural fit in many ways, because I’ll be able to further connect our churches with the worldwide mission of the United Methodist Church. I’m looking forward to seeing what shape that will take.”

Contact David Burke, communications content specialist, at

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