Q&A with Conference Lay Leader Mathew Pinson
By GLENN HANNIGAN
After many years of serving in various volunteer roles with the United Methodist church, Mathew Pinson is ready to take on bigger challenges.
Pinson, assistant dean of development and alumni relations at Candler School of Theology, has served on the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Episcopacy Committee, the Simpsonwood Task Force and as past member of Conference Council on Finance and Administration. And he has served as an elected delegate to the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Now, at age 30, Pinson steps into the critical role of North Georgia Conference Lay Leader. He fills the role previously held by Jane Finley, whose term ended in June. As conference Lay Leader, Pinson sits on the bishop’s extended cabinet.
Pinson, who is married to the Rev. Susan Moore Pinson of Glenn Memorial UMC, is the youngest conference Lay Leader in the U.S.
He is a graduate of Reinhardt College where he served two-terms at student body president. Prior to coming to Candler School of Theology, Mathew served as Director of Annual Giving at Tennessee Wesleyan College. He received the Eagle Scout award in 1997.
The North Georgia Advocate recently asked Pinson to answer a few questions about himself and his new role.
Q: What do you see your primary role as Conference Lay Leader?
A: I am interested in representing well the more than 350,000 lay members of the North Georgia Conference. I want to develop key relationships with laity across the Conference so that together we can enhance programs of lay training and ministry.
Q: How would you describe the current ministerial relationship between clergy and laity in The United Methodist Church?
A: From the beginning of the Methodist movement in America, clergy and laity have worked together in ministry. This tradition continues, and it is evidenced by the good relationships that exist between laity and clergy in the North Georgia Conference. Programs like Leadership UMC, Lay Revitalization, and Lay Speaking would not be possible without laity and clergy working together. The same lay/clergy partnerships make possible the ministry that takes place through church agencies like Action Ministries, the United Methodist Children’s Home, and Conference and General Church agencies.
Q: In recent history, the major denominations in the U.S. have been experiencing a steady erosion in membership while the non-denominational churches have been growing. What do you think the reasons are?
A: While it is true that many of the historic mainline denominations are experiencing decline, I think it is important to remember that many United Methodist congregations, districts, and annual conferences are growing. The key to church growth is linked to the mission of an individual congregation. Congregations that are internally focused seem to be declining in membership and worship attendance, while congregations that are externally focused seem to be recording growth in membership and worship attendance. I believe that it is essential for all congregations to focus attention on community engagement, vibrant worship, missions, and meaningful programs of Christian education.
Q: Apart from the Bible, what book do you think has most influenced your faith?
A: “Reaching Out” by Henri J. M. Nouwen.
Q: What is your favorite Christian hymn or praise song?
A: This changes often… right now it is: “God of Grace and God of Glory”