Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and the Cabinet have announced that the Rev. Dr. Anne Kiome Gatobu will be the next Kansas City District superintendent.
Gatobu, currently serving in extension ministry with Flourishing Springs, a ministry of pastoral self-care, creativity and coaching, will assume her new position when the appointive year begins July 1. She will succeed the Rev. Dr. Bruce Emmert, who has been appointed to serve effective July 1 as senior pastor of St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Omaha.
Bishop Saenz said Gatobu – who also serves as affiliate professor of pastoral care and counseling at Asbury Theological Seminary and has volunteered since 2000 as a translator during General Conference – is a gifted and highly respected leader in the Great Plains Conference.
“She has a discerning spirit and a deep love for God and for the people in our congregations and in the mission field,” Bishop Saenz said. “The Kansas City District is a unique context for ministry. The district is powerful in clergy and lay leadership, the number of active participants in the life of the church, in its conference and denominational connection and in its missional generosity. At the same time, congregations and the people in the KC District are socially, economically and theologically diverse.”
The bishop said Gatobu’s experience in the local church and in coaching pastors has prepared her for this new role as superintendent of one of the conference’s most highly populated districts.
“Anne is a transcendent leader,” Bishop Saenz said. “She functions out of a broad cultural bandwidth, a seasoned pastoral experience and an educational preparation that makes her a highly competent, confident and effective shepherd leader in any setting. Anne’s background in pastoral care, counseling and mediation will be vital to the Cabinet, the people of the Kansas City District and the conference as we move into 2019 and beyond.”
Gatobu said upon receiving the call to this new role, she thought of John Wesley stating, “the world is my parish.” She said saying “yes” to serving in the Kansas City area is a tangible example of how her parish has grown from lay ministry in Kenya to local pastor in western Nebraska to an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference.
“I am grateful to Bishop Saenz and the Cabinet for their confidence in my leadership skills,” Gatobu said. “I am also very grateful for God’s faithfulness through my vocational journey. I remember when the bishop made the invitation, it was so unexpected that it instantly reminded me of a sermon I have preached in the past about God coming and shaking our ‘comfortable nests’ and challenging us to move from our comfort zones.”
Gatobu said her cross-cultural experience from growing up in Africa and living most of her adult life in the United States has expanded her world view and, in doing so, has helped her develop sensitivities to diverse cultures and socio-economic circumstances.
The anchor throughout her ministry, however, has been Christ.
“My dad is a retired Methodist minister who came to faith through his work of translating for one of the first missionaries in Kenya. My mother has served as a lay leader in the church for as long as I can remember,” Gatobu said. “Knowing that Christ’s Holy Spirit is within me has helped me face life challenges with confidence and assurance that ‘He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.’” (1 John 4:4).
Gatobu said she believes God has been faithful in continuing to renew her call. She said she will strive to remember Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that God is God” – as she considers the opportunities and challenges the role of DS will bring.
“First, I cannot ignore the challenges that are facing the church and which I believe will be on the forefront in every district, including Kansas City,” Gatobu said. “I hope to see churches in the district building a resiliency that is grounded on their love for God and genuine teachings of Christ. I hope to see Love prevail in a time of conflict because Love always triumphs. One of my roles as DS will be to help both clergy and laity by exemplifying a non-anxious presence in the face of high anxiety brought about by fear of the unknown.
“Second, the more urgent role of the church is to spread the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Gatobu continued. “I think that is basic and calls us all – laity, clergy and church leadership – to be missional in all that we do.”
Gatobu said she is grateful for the support of her husband, the Rev. Haron Gatobu, and her children as she assumes this new responsibility.
Bishop Saenz said he believes Gatobu and the Kansas City District churches will be good partners in the mission field.
“I have high hopes and expectations for the amazing, innovative and collaborative kingdom work the Kansas City District clergy, laity and congregations will engage in because of Anne’s leadership, guidance and support,” the bishop said.
Contact Todd Seifert, communications director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.