News and Views

Bishop Easterling names Rev. Dawn M. Hand new superintendent in Central Maryland

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One thing people don’t know about the Rev. Dawn M. Hand?

She’s a certified steward for the National Park Service, caring for the Billy Goat Trail on the C&O Canal that hikers scramble over. The tendencies that guide her as she cares for people along their paths will serve her well as she begins a new journey of her own as the superintendent of the Central Maryland District.

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling named Hand to serve this district as its superintendent, beginning July 1.

“As the denomination is navigating the deep waters of theological difference, racial equity, and potential separation, we need leaders who can build bridges and shepherd conversation across diverse perspectives,” the bishop said. “Rev. Hand has demonstrated that gift throughout her ministry. Her strong communication skills also enable her to the tell the old, old story in new, innovative ways. 

Hand’s journey has taken her from being “a cradle United Methodist” in North Carolina to serving as a religious communicator, a pastor, (including seven years as executive pastor at Foundry UMC in Washington) and into her current ministry as a superintendent in the Pittsburgh District in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference.

When Bishop Easterling invited her to serve on the Cabinet of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, Hand went into deep prayer. Prayer, she says, is vital to her life and she lives in awe of its power.

“Prayer is part of my DNA. It connects me more powerfully to God,” she said. “I’ve been stunned and stopped by prayer. … I pray, and God reveals God’s self through situations, through people, and through signs and wonders.”

Bishop Easterling knows the Cabinet will be blessed by her presence.

“She is creative, energetic and has a wonderful sense of joy,” the bishop said. “Rev. Hand is first and foremost a deep disciple of Jesus Christ and committed to the mission of transformation. Her love of God leads her to embrace all of God’s creation, and her inclusive spirit inspires others to serve, work and love inclusively as well.”

Hand has been active in the church her whole life and was serving as a communicator in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference when she experienced a call to ordained ministry. She was named the denomination’s Communicator of the Year in 2004 by the United Methodist Association of Communicators.

But when she talked to a colleague about the stirrings of her heart, the colleague told her, “Listen, open up your heart for the voice of God, the action of God, the stirring of God. Then, you have to decide if you’re going to be obedient to that call.”

Hand wanted to be obedient, but she also believes in God as a partner and a miracle worker. She had just preached a sermon on Elijah and Elisha, which contained the words “double portion of blessing,” and was headed off to lead an Igniting Ministry training.

She prayed, telling God that if she heard the words “double portion,” she would enter the ordained ministry. Hand admits she often has conversations like this with God.

The weekend passed, the training was a success, and she had not heard the words. Then when the woman who dropped her off at the airport to go home prayed for Hand, she asked God to pour out a “double portion” of God’s Holy Spirit upon her.

“That had to be God,” Hand said. She didn’t look back.

In her ministry, Hand is a person who feels called to, and stands on, the side of justice.

“I’m not going to be silent,” she said. “I’m going to agitate, I’m going to help convict, I’m going to inspire and I’m going to encourage people to be their best God-given selves.”

She is proud to be a leader in a church she knows and deeply loves. But it is also a church that breaks her heart, she said. The denomination’s ordination prohibition against LGBTQIA people causes her to lift her voice against those who would be complicit in “picking and choosing who we want to be and serve in the church.” She is even more adamant about anti-racism and helping congregations – and not just leaders – speak out and act for change.

“My life’s trajectory has followed the call to justice,” she said. “This is who I am, and this is who I believe God called me to be.”

But Hand is also called to be connectional. In a way, she is the epitome of the connectional system, serving in many different ministries, and in many different areas in the Western North Carolina Conference.

United Methodism, she believes, is one of the world’s best hopes for connectionalism. It provides opportunities for people who are different and might disagree with one another to come together to work for a shared cause. Hand seeks out and delights in discovering the things people have in common that allow them to connect and move forward in ministry.

She learned about creating loving relationships from her parents and grandparents, and the congregation of St. Marks UMC in Charlotte, North Carolina, a place that “sutures her soul” when it feels like it may be torn. She is also deeply grateful for her professional coach and a close network of friends. Hand said what brings her sheer joy is being an aunt to her nieces and nephew whom she calls her “three heartbeats.”

She’s also excited about getting back on the trails at Great Falls and along the C&O Canal outside of D.C. Hand loves being in nature, and even takes regular injections to allow her to overcome allergies and hike and ride her bike.

She also loves shooting hoops. She received a basketball scholarship to Winston-Salem State University. Her love of sports and cheering for the Carolina Panthers brings her happiness.

Hand is excited about coming to the Central Maryland District to begin to form new relationships in this suburban region. She knows the potential for the churches in the district to make a stronger difference in their communities and the world is significant. She’s enthusiastic about building on the work of the current superintendent, the Rev. JW Park, and putting the shared prayers of the district into action.

As a people of faith, she said, “we pray, and then we act, we communicate, and then we act; we worship and then we act. Action follows everything we say. We read the Bible and then we act. We dream, and then, we act.”

Lisa Marshall Jan 25, 2021 12:01pm

Amen and Welcome to Rev. Hand! I am so excited that she will be our new superintendent. Thank you and Godspeed Rev. JW Park for your years of service to our district.

Thomasina Brock Jan 25, 2021 12:15pm

You have an incredible journey. Congratulations on your appointment and may God, creatir of us all, continue to guide and direct your path. To God be the Glory for all He has done in your life!

Pam Walls Ervin Jan 25, 2021 12:26pm

A laborer for the Lord. May your light continue to shine.

Earl Coggins Jan 25, 2021 1:13pm

Well deserved. You are such a dedicated servant and an honor to be your Friend

David Rhew Jan 25, 2021 1:34pm



Congrats on landing in fertile soil. Time to plant and grow.

Karen Gould Jan 25, 2021 1:58pm

I'm retired from the BW Conference, now living in Charlotte. Before my call to be a pastor, my husband Frank and I raised our family in Rockville and used to hike on the canal and Billy Goat Trail.
We're now members at University City UMC in Charlotte. You may know our pastor Rev. John Boggs. He will retire in June.
In my first year of seminary, I spent a semester working with Rev. Don Stewart, who was then executive pastor, with Ed Baumann as teaching pastor.
Best wishes and blessings in your new ministry.

Reatha Andrew Jan 25, 2021 2:05pm

Oh, Dawn... what absolutely wonderful news!!! Adding my prayers of support.

Kimberly Scott Jan 25, 2021 3:01pm

Amen and congratulations to you and the Baltimore Washington Conference!

Cvc ....Carl V. Coleman Jan 25, 2021 4:05pm

Congratulations, Pastor, Sister Dawn!!! Welcome Home!!!! I KNOW your sleeves will be rolled up!!! Are the AKA’s taking over???? I’m not worried!! It’s ALL good! In God I trust!! JESUS is our FRAT BRO....Congratulations, Prayers and Blessings! Bless You! Blessed us!!! 2GBTG!!! Cvc

Elaine Kiker Jan 25, 2021 4:20pm

Thrilled your ministry is being recognized for the need it provides in different places. Hopefully you retire back here in Matthews!!!!

Lillian Stubbs Jan 25, 2021 4:55pm

Congratulations, I am sure you will be an awesome leader. God bless!

Anonymous Jan 25, 2021 7:28pm

Congratulations Dawn! Praise God beautiful!

Victoria Parker Jan 25, 2021 9:00pm

Well deserved! She’s played a vital role in shaping who I am. I’m sure she’ll continue to touch many lives as she serves God and love people. Congratulations Ms. Dawn!

Chan Truesdell Jan 25, 2021 9:08pm

Congratulations Dawn Great Woman of GOD, I'm so very proud of you and the powerful differences you're making❤

Rev. Leo Yates Jan 25, 2021 9:12pm

Rev. Dawn will be a blessing to our bishop and our conference.

Edward A. Pone Jan 25, 2021 9:52pm

Congratulations Dawn. Your Aunt Beverly and will be praying for you as God leads you in this new and exciting chapter of your Christian journey.

Geraldine McClellan Jan 25, 2021 10:14pm

Congratulations!! May you continue to walk in God’s will and way! Blessed by your ministry and commitment!!

Neill Caldwell Jan 25, 2021 10:52pm

Best laugh in the denomination, too.

Amelia Tucker-Shaw Jan 26, 2021 12:12pm

Congratulations my dear sister friend and blessings for you and your ministry! Love and lead the people with God’s guidance!
Keep it real and make it plain! ❤️

Marty Folsom Jan 26, 2021 1:16pm

Congratulations, Dawn! You are a blessing to us, wherever the Lord lands you.

Vivian Miller Bryson Jan 26, 2021 10:27pm

Congratulations Dawn!! I am so Happy for you! I am very proud of you!! The example you set is Awesome!! Your Christianity shines and I am humbled to be your Friend!! Much Love.

Josefa Bethea Wall Jan 27, 2021 12:22am

Excited to watch this chapter in your life unfold!

Malcolm Frazier Jan 27, 2021 3:54pm

This is great news, Dawn. I am excited to have you as my D.S. I have been on that trail many times! I will be praying for you as you make your transition.

Dianne Glave Jan 28, 2021 7:46am

God continues to lead you. You will be missed in Western Pa.

Robin Dease Jan 28, 2021 10:42am

The BWC -Central Maryland District will be in very capable hands. Congratulations!

Garrett Grim Feb 1, 2021 9:48am

Hello DS Hand. I serve on the trustees and as treasurer of Clarksburg UMC, in the Hyattstown / Clarksburg Parish. I am sure I speak for Pastor Dave Hodsdon and all the others in our parish when I say we look forward to meeting you and working with you as we continue the long tradition of serving our communities.

E. Lynwood Browning Feb 1, 2021 12:07pm

Hello Rev. Dawn. I am a member of Providence U. M. Church, Monrovia, MD. You certainly do come to our District highly recommended. We welcome you as our District Superintendent. May the Lord continue to bless you.

Pam Shoffner Feb 8, 2021 11:29pm

So grateful for how God continues to call you into different areas of ministry for His Glory as you continue to be obedient to His beckoning call on your life. Prayerful for you dear sister. Homerun Bishop Easterling.