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Lackore announces her retirement as finance chief

Sandra Lackore discusses the financial state of The United Methodist Church during its 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh. Lackore has served as the top executive of the denomination's Council on Finance and Administration for 12 years and will retire effective June 30, 2008. A UMNS file photo by John C. Goodwin.

By Marta W. Aldrich*
Sept. 17, 2007 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)

Sandra Lackore will retire next June after serving 12 years as chief executive of the agency that administers finances for The United Methodist Church and safeguards its legal rights and interests.

She shared the news with her staff at the General Council on Finance and Administration on Sept. 17. Her retirement also was announced churchwide by Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, president of the governing board for the agency.

Lackore, 63, will take a three-month family leave beginning Oct. 1 to care for her husband, the Rev. Cecil Lackore, who is scheduled to undergo intensive treatments this fall for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her retirement is effective June 30.

The council's executive committee is developing an interim leadership plan, which will be announced later this month, according to a statement from the agency. Lackore will be available for consultation during that time.

Lackore's tenure at the council includes consolidating the agency from three geographically separate offices to one central location in Nashville, establishing a foundation to endow denominational ministries and establishing a denominational insurance company.

"Sandra has dedicated much of her professional life to The United Methodist Church with over 30 years of service …," Swenson said. "Sandra's leadership and vision have resulted in the recent consolidation of council operations along with the gathering of a highly skilled staff."

Swenson said Lackore has guided the council's members and staff "in demonstrating to the denomination an operational culture encompassed in its mission focus: serving the church through the ministry of administration. She has embodied and reflected our vision of servant ministry," the bishop said.

'A new beginning'

Lackore said her retirement next June after General Conference meets in Fort Worth, Texas, will allow for new leadership for both her agency and the Connectional Table for the next four-year budgeting period, which begins in 2009. The Connectional Table works with the GCFA to coordinate the denomination's ministries and finances for making disciples of Jesus Christ.

"It's critical there be a sense of trust throughout our connection, and I am inspired by the way Sandra values every dollar that comes to the general church. She honors that trust."
-The Rev. Steven R. Jones

Lackore noted that, in November, Mary Brook Casad will become the first chief executive of the Connectional Table.

"It is a new beginning," Lackore said in a statement. "I have great hope for the leadership of the (Connectional Table) under Mary Brooke Casad. I will leave GCFA knowing that it is in capable and faithful hands also."

Raised in Boston, Lackore was an administrator and treasurer for the New England Annual Conference (formerly Southern New England) when the council’s governing board chose her in 1995 as the first woman to head the agency. She began her career as a church administrator for a congregation in Brockton, Mass., and later was director of a church camp. A former president of the United Methodist Association of Conference Treasurers, she also has been a delegate to multiple General Conferences and Northeastern Jurisdictional Conferences.

Integrity and trust

Lackore's retirement announcement elicited praise for her leadership during the last 12 years.

"One of the things I highly respect Sandra for is the integrity she brings to how our apportionment dollars are spent," said the Rev. Steven R. Jones, a member of the council's executive committee and senior pastor of Williamsburg (Va.) United Methodist Church.

"It's critical there be a sense of trust throughout our connection, and I am inspired by the way Sandra values every dollar that comes to the general church. She honors that trust," Jones told United Methodist News Service.

Jones said Lackore has ensured integrity in the process through a system of audits and its efforts to honor the intentions of General Conference actions. He called her a "visionary person."

"She has an impressive ability to command an understanding of very specific details and yet also to look at the big picture. … She loves our church. It's part of who she is, and she has tried to serve it with every ounce of her being."

The Lackores have three children and three grandchildren. Their daughter, Jennifer Lee Kelley, died unexpectedly in February.

Aldrich is news editor of United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Marta Aldrich, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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