News from AllianceQ: November 2018

Dr. Johnston Announces Retirement Plans

Robin Knauerhase, Moderator of the AllianceQ Council, regrets to announce that she, the council, and Mark Johnston have been working closely together to create a transition plan as Mark plans to retire from full time ministry shortly after the 2019 Des Moines General Assembly.

Robin shares that “Mark told the council of his desire to retire from full time ministry several months ago, and we have been crafting plans for the transition ever since. We are grateful for the work he has done for the Alliance and especially appreciative of his desire to plan a smooth transition.”

Rev. Dr. Johnston has been the Executive Director of AllianceQ’s Open & Affirming Ministry Program since July of 2013, the first full time staff person employed by AllianceQ. He tells us that “Actually, I’ve been working with the Alliance, not just as a staff person, but in various volunteer capacities for almost 30 years. I don’t plan to completely vanish quite yet. The plan is that, after a new Executive Director begins next fall, I will take on the title ‘Open & Affirming Trainer’ and continue, on a part time basis, to offer Building an Inclusive Church Toolkit Trainings, as well as train new trainers and be available to the new Executive Director as needed.”

Mark also notes that there is an end date in sight for his ministry with the Alliance: “My husband and I are blessed to be able to plan on retiring fully in about 2 or 3 years. By then, I expect that new leadership will be taking the Alliance further than I have.”

In early 2013, Mark and Karen Barr, then Moderator of the Alliance Council, began dreaming of how to expand the ministry of the Alliance. Mark spent several months fundraising, and on July 1, 2013, began working for the Alliance.

“Actually,” Mark tells us, “I spent the first day of my employment with the Alliance in a dentist chair getting a root canal! – true story… Fortunately, that wasn’t an omen of things to come.”

Then came the General Assembly in Orlando where GA-1327 “Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All” was passed. Since then, more than 80 ministries have been added to the Alliance’s O&A Ministry Program, including most of the Disciples related seminaries, the Disciples Seminary Foundation, and Chalice Press, as well as churches across the denomination from California to Ontario.

Robin reports that “we plan to build on the foundation that Mark has built for us. As Executive Director of the Open & Affirming Ministry Program, he has put the important work of the Open & Affirming Ministry Program on a firm foundation, building up Regional Open & Affirming Ministry Teams, and enabling congregations via the Building an Inclusive Church Toolkit. We believe we can expand that work, and our next hire will be an Executive Director of the Alliance. Of course, we will be seeking a new staff person who can expand Mark’s work and in addition focus more of AllianceQ’s resources on the important intersectional justice work that we have been increasingly able to attend to.”

The Alliance plans to post a job description as soon as possible and will publish a time-line for the search process after the annual Council retreat in November.