The Rev. Dr. Richard Vance
Delaware pastor named director of men’s ministry
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––Gilbert C. Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, has named the Rev. Dr. Richard (Rick) Vance, pastor of Ebenezer UMC in Newark, Del., as director of men’s ministry. He will assume that position September 1.
Vance assumes a position left vacant after Larry Malone left the post in December, 2010. Since that time, Mark Lubbock, Mark Dehority, Greg Arnold, and Jim Boesch have served as regionally-deployed part-time leaders of men’s ministry. They will continue in that ministry under the direction of Hanke and in cooperation with Vance.
A 1987 graduate of Salisbury (Md.) University (Bachelor of Science in adult education) and Wesley Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity in 1995 and a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2006), Vance is an ordained elder in the Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conference and a leader of UM Men conference workshops.
“We had a list of outstanding candidates,” said Hanke, “but Dr. Vance brings a history of work in men’s ministry and in participation with several other agencies of the church. He has attended General Conference as a communicator for his conference, and Bishop Johnson and Allan Loomis (conference president of UM Men) both joyfully describe him as ‘a really great guy’ and ‘a great choice for this position’.”
Looking beyond the local church
“For some time, I have felt that God has been calling me to expand my ministry beyond the local church,” says Vance. “I see this as an opportunity to encourage, equip and empower men––led by God and the Holy Spirt––to work cooperatively to transform their communities and the world.“
In 1996, Vance co-founded “My Friend’s Place,” a church-based youth drop-in center in Berlin, Md., and he served as chief executive officer for two years prior to leaving the area to serve as a pastor.
Since 1998, he has led mission trips in the United States and other nations. “Shortly after 9-11, I served with UMCOR (UM Committee on Relief) as a volunteer logistics person, working to develop prayer centers through New York and staffing the centers with volunteers I had trained,” he says.
He has also served as a chaplain for fire fighters, police officers and EMS personnel.
In describing his faith journey, Vance says he was raised in a Jewish and Pentecostal home, but he attended a non-denominational church as a teenager. “Within that congregation, I committed my life to Christ and later felt called to be in ministry as a pastor,” he says. “At the age of 19, my father died very suddenly of cancer. Out of anger and hurt, I left the church and distanced my relationship with God.”
Vance says he remained out of the church for two years until he accepted an invitation to attend a UM church. “I began to see how God had directed my path even in my seemingly disobedient period and had brought me to a place where I could be nurtured and hear God’s call on my life again. In 1991, I answered God’s call on my life to become a pastor, began seminary and have now been serving UM churches for 24 years.”
When asked “What disciplines do you practice to keep you on track?” Vance says he has a training partner and a trainer who holds him accountable and “several years ago I began a journey toward wholeness that has enabled me to lose more than 150 pounds and become emotionally, spiritually and physically whole.” Vance worked with two friends, a nurse and a trainer to develop “Temple Keeper,” a ministry that helps people “move toward wholeness.”
The future of men’s ministry
“Gone are the days where men’s ministry is just about fellowship,” says Vance. “We need to offer men opportunities to connect with the world, God, and each other.” He also notes, “Men’s ministry needs to become culturally relevant. What works in one church or community will not work in another community. The church must develop transferable ‘best practices’ that can be use in local communities throughout the world.”
“Dr. Vance will help expand our men's ministry specialist program, and our work in the areas of domestic violence, prison ministries, and several other projects in the planning stage,” said Hanke.