4:30 P.M. EST April 13, 2010 | STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS)
Cynthia Harvey, center, joins in reciting a prayer at a 2008 dedication
service for a mosquito net distribution in Dabou, Côte d'Ivoire. A UMNS
file photo by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery
A Texas clergywoman who has helped coordinate the distribution of
mosquito nets in Côte d’Ivoire, plan disaster response to Hurricanes
Katrina and Ike, and develop a leadership program for pastors is the
new chief executive of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
The Rev. Cynthia Harvey, 50, was elected as deputy general secretary
of UMCOR and its parent agency, the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, on April 13 during the board’s spring meeting.
West Ohio Bishop Bruce Ough, the board’s president, called Harvey
“an exceptional leader” who brings all the qualities needed to the job.
For the past two months, she has been serving as a temporary liaison
between UMCOR and the conferences, churches and individuals responding
to the Haiti earthquake.
“It’s an awesome privilege to be able to serve the church in this
capacity,” Harvey said.
Since February 2008, Harvey has been director of missional
excellence for the denomination’s Texas Annual (regional) Conference,
helping local congregations engage in ministries in the areas of peace
with justice, immigration, restorative justice and other issues related
to the church’s social principles.
She oversees two fully staffed disaster response offices, as well as
staff members who coordinate volunteer mission teams. She worked with
Texas Bishop Janice Riggle Huie and a small team to develop a program
called Advancing Pastoral Leadership, which received a $2 million grant
from the Lilly Endowment.
‘A heart for mission’
Huie, who also serves as chairperson of the Health and Relief unit
for the Board of Global Ministries, said Harvey “has a heart for
mission in the local community and the world.”
Harvey helped create a partnership with The United Methodist Church
in Côte d’Ivoire – through both the Texas Conference and her position as
a member of the Commission for United Methodist Communications – that
led to the net distribution, establishment of a radio station,
development of Dabou Hospital and improvement of schools.
Rev. Cynthia Harvey provides one-on-one computer instruction to Gift
Mudambo, a member of the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference. A UMNS file
photo by Linda Green.
The Texas Conference alone raised more
than $1 million for the distribution of 855,000 insecticide-treated bed
nets in November 2008.
Harvey’s tenure with the conference -- including 12 years as an
executive associate at the 6,900-member Memorial Drive United Methodist
Church in Houston – has “given her experience in both resourcing
congregations to act locally and connecting the church in mission
globally,” Huie added.
A pew perspective
Harvey said she hopes to bring stability and steadiness to the
United Methodist Committee on Relief. The agency lost its former chief
executive, the Rev. Sam Dixon, when he died after being trapped under
rubble when an earthquake struck Haiti in January.
But she also recognizes the relief agency’s need for “nimbleness” as
it responds to disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.
Harvey pointed to the board’s new staff leader as inspiration for a
dynamic new direction. “I think Thomas Kemper is a gift,” she
explained. “He brings renewed energy and spirit.”
Kemper said he is counting on Harvey to help UMCOR and the Board of
Global Ministries combine mission with development and relief. “She
brings a perspective from the pew, from the annual conference, which we
also need at the agency,” he added.
Vehicles from the United Methodist Committee on Relief join a line
heading into Haiti from Jiman’, Dominican Republic.
A UMNS file photo
by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery
Harvey – who graduated with a bachelor’s
degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1980 –
had a career in marketing and property management before assuming
pastoral duties in 1992. She earned a master of divinity degree from
Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in 1999 and
was ordained an elder in 2001.
She grew up in a household where both Spanish and English were
spoken, considers Spanish her “second first language,” and is somewhat
conversant in French and Portuguese. Married to Dean Alan Harvey, she
has a 19-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who is a freshman at Baylor
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or