Bishop names Smothers Congregational Development Resource Specialist

May 9, 2017

The Rev. Rodney T. SmothersThe Rev. Rodney T. Smothers has been appointed by Bishop LaTrelle Easterling to serve on the staff of the Baltimore-Washington Conference in the newly created positon of Congregational Development Resource Specialist.

In this new position, he will work to help build capacity and effectiveness in leadership, revitalize existing congregations, identity areas ready for new church starts, and coach pastors.

During his 36 years of ordained ministry as a leader throughout the denomination, Smothers has been involved with almost every aspect of church starts, revitalization and leadership development as a practitioner, coach, and teacher. 

The breadth and depth of his knowledge and leadership will serve the churches of the Baltimore-Washington Conference well, Bishop Easterling said.

“I am excited to work with Rev. Dr. Smothers as he is enthusiastic and committed to moving leaders, congregations, and communities forward as agents of transformation and renewal,” said the bishop. “As God continues to provide the vision for the Baltimore-Washington Conference in this new season, I will work to bring excellent, Christ-centered, disciple-making leaders to the staff.”

Good Books

The Rev. Rodney Smothers is a voracious reader.

What are some of his recommendations?

  • "The Coaching Habit" by Michael Bungay Stanier
  • "Essentialism: The Discipled Pursuit of Less" by Greg Mckeown,
  • "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek
  • "Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One" by Jenny Blake
  • “Not Safe for Church: Ten Commandments for Reaching New Generations” by F. Douglas Powe and Jasmine Rose Smothers

Smothers is also writing a book, with the Rev. Candace Lewis, titled “Resurgence.” Due out in the fall of 2017, it shares models of congregational vitality and suggests some proven strategies and systems that will result in congregational vitality.

As the Congregational Development Resource Specialist, Smothers said he prays that “in this season, we will model a new approach to congregational development and redevelopment that is anchored by healthy examples of partnership, community development, economic justice, racial diversity, and radical innovation.”

While Smothers’ ministry has taken place on a national stage, he is a child of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. He accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior at the age of 14 at the historic A.P. Shaw UMC in Washington, D.C.

He has pastored churches in the North Georgia and the Baltimore-Washington Conference, including, most recently, Liberty Grove UMC in Burtonsville. He has been the pastor of two new church starts and led three multi-cultural congregations. He also served as the director of Evangelism and Revitalization for the General Board of Discipleship, and director of Congregational Development and a Guide for the BWC. He currently serves as a leadership coach and consultant for the denomination’s Path 1 New Church Development.

At his first full-time appointment, Smothers was called to plant Hoosier Memorial UMC in Atlanta. He started with 18 members and grew it, in four years, to 600. Another highlight of his ministry was at Central UMC in Atlanta, where more than 600 students completed Disciple Bible Study.

If there is one value that guides his ministry, it is an enthusiasm for learning.

“I am most joy-filled when I am learning,” he said. A serial reader, he devours books that reinforce his passion and love of God’s church. He believes in the power and potential of collaborative learning.

“My passion,” he said, “is developing leaders to bring spiritual focus, innovation and missional engagement to their communities.”

He also has a deep and abiding passion for his family – his wife, Dr. Lynn Thomas Smothers, and their three children, who are all now “experts in the ritual and sacraments of the church.” He delights in remembering that moment when he stood with his oldest daughter Jasmine and placed the stole around her neck as she was ordained an Elder in the North Georgia Conference.

As he begins his new position, Smothers is aware that many churches are facing declining memberships and ministries. Too many are “facing a lack of spiritual maturity, the inability to live as Centrists and find common ground and share points of view,” he said. “They have a scarcity mentality that prevents us from realizing the abundance of God’s provision for our lives.”

One tool that Smothers uses to awaken leaders and congregations to this abundance, in workshops and seminars across the country, is coaching, which he sees as “an essential ministry tool because it cultivates a culture of shared learning and execution of powerful innovation.”

When he begins his new position July 1, Smothers intends to dive in, creating “a culture for coaching, congregational vitality and collaborative learning.” He’ll be leaning on a passage from the Message, Ephesians 4:11-14, which illuminates, in part, Smothers’ shared desire to train Christ’s followers to “be fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.”

Darlene Washington May 9, 2017 10:35am

We are so blessed in the Baltimore-Washington Conference to have Rev. Rodney Smothers appointed to this newly created position. Thank you Bishop Easterling and your cabinet for your discernment and insight to recognize the spiritual gifts of Rev. Smothers and to see the need for this position and the need to fill it with Rev. Smothers. I am a member of a congregation in the Annapolis District that benefited immensely when Rev. Smothers was my late husband's (Rev. Johnnie Washington) Southern Region Coach. His enthusiasm and encouragement was vital to the pastor, officers and members of our congregation.

Kevin Smalls May 9, 2017 11:52am

Love it!!! I can't wait to see how marvelous things will continue to unfold! SUPERB move!

Olu Brown-Impact Church May 9, 2017 2:33pm

Dr. Smothers has been one of my primary new church plant coaches since we started Impact Church in 2007. Impact Church is one of the fastest-growing churches in the country because of Dr. Smothers' support. I am truly grateful for his friendship, coaching skill, and leadership ability. Olu Brown-Lead Pastor @ Impact Church

Nate Howard, Brighter Day Ministries May 9, 2017 3:25pm

What a great Appointment for someone who is so dedicated, commitment and passionate about making disciples, teaching and making a Visible Difference in the life of all he comes in contact with. Our prayers are with Reverend Smothers as he takes on this important and challenging assignment. Through his experience, professionalism and creative and innovative approaches to coaching and training, even greater strives should be made throughout the BWC to ensure each of us are indeed fully developed within and without. I am thankful for the times I have been in one of his training sessions.

F. Ferdinand, LUMC May 9, 2017 4:27pm

Thank you Bishop Easterling! Congratulations Rev. Smothers - this has been a long time coming and I cannot wait to work with you in your new role.We in the BWC are blessed. God's richest continued blessing for much success!

Reverend Dr. Mae E. Harrison, retired elder May 9, 2017 4:39pm

As a retired elder in full connection, over the years I have had the privilege of observing Reverend Smothers' gifts and graces of ministry in ministry. He is highly respected and regarded as a giant in wisdom and knowledge of church life.
I know he will continue to be a blessing to the Baltimore-Washington Conference again and again, giving witness to God's unwavering spirit of what it means to be a servant.

Wilberta Smith-Bynum May 9, 2017 7:35pm

Congratulations Dr. Smothers! I'm in awe of this great move of God, and I look forward to how He will use you in this capacity. Many blessings!!

Dr. Helen Fleming May 9, 2017 8:09pm

I believe that Dr. Smothers has been placed in the perfect position that will utilized all of his gifts and continue to bring excellence whethe

Paul W. Johnson May 9, 2017 8:57pm

This is exciting! Dr. Smothers is one of the jewels of our denomination. I am looking forward to the impact he will make across our annual conference.

Diane Dixon-Proctor May 9, 2017 10:44pm

Awesome, exciting, life changing. God is about to move in a new and mighty way through you Pastor Smothers. I wait to see how the Holy Spirit will bless your vision for our conference.Thank you Bishop.

Brenda Henderson May 10, 2017 12:39pm

Congratulations on your new appointment! This sounds like an excellent opportunity for you and the congregations you will assist. Thanks to the Bishop and to God.

Gwendolyn Terrell May 10,2017 May 10, 2017 6:42pm

This is exciting and wonderful news! It is my prayer that God will continue to bless you ,as you forge ahead working in the vineyard. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

James L. V. Yeargins May 11, 2017 1:09am

Congratulations to my Brother in Christ on your appointment, I know Dr. E. W. Stevenson, Sr. and Mother Stevenson and all saints from A. P Shaw that have gone on to glory are looking down and smiling on you. Thanks to God and the Bishop.

Rev Patricia Buck Rudolph May 11, 2017 8:58am

Congratulations!!!!, praise God for an anointed man of God appointed to a position that was pre-ordained for such a time as this. I am so proud of you continue to stay in the face of God I'm here anytime you need me, to God be the glory. Thank you Bishop from hearing from God

LaReesa Smith-Horn May 11, 2017 9:34am

I thank God for your patience & for your Faithfulness.

Gwendolyn Yeargins May 11, 2017 3:17pm

To God be the Glory! Congratulation Mighty Man of God! I am so proud of you!

Mary Kay Totty May 15, 2017 12:07pm

Thanks Be! What a gift this appointment will be to our conference. All the best to you, Rev. Smothers!

Rudy Bropleh--Asbury Church May 17, 2017 1:29pm

Dr. Rodney Smothers is an exciting and engaging leader! This is a great fit! At a time when there's so much talk about other stuff, Dr. Smothers' work will help us focus on the main thing: getting healthy, making disciples, and expanding the Kingdom influence of Christ. Congrats to my good friend and Mentor!

Henri E. Hill May 25, 2017 3:06pm

Congratulations on your new position!! May our gracious God continue to bless you richly.

Rev. Robert Ward Sr. Aug 5, 2017 9:40pm

Congratulations on your new appointment. Your gifts and graces have impacted so many in and outside the Body of Christ. Thank you for the guidance, wisdom and preparation throughout my ministry. I am eternally grateful.