Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey has announced the appointment of Rev. Melissa Maher as the inaugural director of the Center for Leadership Vitality, effective July 1.

This Center marks a pivotal initiative aimed at bolstering clergy and lay leadership development within The Texas Annual Conference, particularly as it navigates a new chapter in its journey.

Rev. Maher will combine her existing responsibilities of New Ministry Strategies with the portfolio of Rev. Deborah Hawboldt, who is retiring June 30 from the Center for Leadership Formation. This new Center will align all discipleship ministries under one umbrella. It will bring together ministries focused on identifying, equipping, and deploying clergy and laity, New Faith Communities, and co-hort based programs funded by the Lilly Endowment with those under Higher Education and Campus Ministry, the Board of Ordained Ministry, and Hispanic Ministries. The Center for Leadership Vitality will serve as a dynamic hub for growth and innovation.

Drawing upon her extensive experience and collaborative spirit, Rev. Maher will spearhead this transformative endeavor, rallying support from clergy and laity within the Texas Conference and beyond. The conference is actively seeking expertise from diverse ministry and community development backgrounds to enrich this initiative believing that creating healthy communities is the work of the church.

"Blessed with Rev. Maher's exceptional ability to unify and empower clergy and laity alike, she embodies the ideal leader for the Center of Leadership Vitality," remarked Bishop Harvey. "As we embark on this journey, I am filled with anticipation for the ways in which God will work through this vital ministry, forging deeper connections between lay and clergy leadership," she added.

In her response, Rev. Maher expressed her enthusiasm for the journey ahead, emphasizing the importance of collaborative and interdisciplinary efforts in fostering vibrant leadership within the Church. “The clergy and laity of the Texas Annual Conference stand ready to embrace this next stage of ministry in the life of our conference and the Church,” Maher noted. “We are all ‘learning in public’ meaning the leadership skills of curiosity and innovation guide our prayers and actions. There are no experts, only disciples of the Resurrected Jesus ready to go!”