Q & A with... Rev. Dr. Tina Patterson, Director of Connectional and African American Ministries

June 06, 2023
Rev. Dr. Tina Patterson has been in ministry for more than 20 years, starting in the Baptist Church and becoming United Methodist in 2009. Patterson was commissioned in 2012 and became a full elder in 2014. She has served at Sycamore Chapel, as the Wesley Foundation executive director/campus pastor at Kentucky State University, at Mosaic in Louisville, and for the past two years as district superintendent of the Bluegrass District. Ministry work is a second career; she spent about 20 years in the insurance business. She has an adult daughter and two grandchildren. Her answers below have been lightly edited for clarity.

Talk a little about the new African American Ministries position. How do you see that taking shape, and how does it fit in with your other new role as director of Connectional Ministries?
Right now, a lot of it is still in my  head. I have a job description that was given to me. But what I can say is, I think it will take shape as I have conversations with pastoral and church leadership around vision, mission, and needs. Part of the DCM role includes multicultural ministries, and very specific to the African American church is SBC21 (Strengthening the Black Church in the 21st Century). One of my roles is to help strengthen the Black church, focusing on developing and strengthening African American ministries. One of the things  that is going well is that new leadership is being raised up, including three African American males who are seminary-trained, energetic young men who are passionate about the work they have been called to do.

The biggest challenge right now is that we are moving into a new season in the life of the church that will look different. As we move into that new season, our biggest challenge is to look beyond the here and now and toward the future to see what God is doing, and pivot. If it affected the conference, it affects all of us, including the African American congregations. As a result, we will need to be creative in ways that we do ministry, staying in line with our mission to make passionate spiritual disciples of Jesus Christ.

One of the things I’m excited about is that I am going to be full time and will be able to fully engage with the Connectional Ministries role and also develop the new African American Ministries position. Part of the role of DCM is giving oversight to all the multicultural ministries. We already have a lot of great work going on, and now is the time to take it to the next level.

As a follow-up, what are two or three of your key goals? How are we going to get from “here” to “there”?
I am making a list of all the persons of color who are serving in pastoral roles across the conference, and also the type  of ministries at different churches. We have at least nine people serving in cross-cultural appointments, plus at least three others who are serving in multicultural roles. I’m probably forgetting a few, but that comes immediately to mind.

I would like to see all multicultural ministries be strengthened and engaged, and that starts with conversations to see what the actual needs are. I haven’t worked out time frames, but I would say for the next several months, that is my goal – not only with all the multicultural ministries, but also the teams that fall under Connectional Ministries. Speaking with the multicultural ministries allows me to hear their individual concerns that are relevant to their culture. Ultimately, the collective needs and concerns will be addressed by the ELCC (Ethnic Local Church Concerns) team. There will be a lot of collaborating going forward.

Is there anything else you would like to touch on and share with the rest of the Kentucky Annual Conference?
Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, president of the Council of Bishops, called members to “be the architects of a renewed, revived and reclaimed United Methodist Church.” KAC Bishop Leonard Fairley says, “In Kentucky, we are ready to pivot to a Hopeful Future.” There is much work to do with many challenges, but I am not afraid of challenges! I am both honored and excited about serving in this new role as we pivot to that hopeful future.