The Ohio Conference Leadership Team has hired Dick Barrett of West Liberty to serve as conference minister of the Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA.
Dick comes to the conference minister position after serving Oak Grove Mennonite Church in West Liberty, Ohio, for 16 years, the first four as associate pastor and the last 12 as lead pastor.
After being raised Roman Catholic, Dick joined the New York State Police in 1981. As a young adult Dick strayed from the faith. After a failed marriage and the sudden death of his father, he asked for a Bible for a Christmas present. It was in reading the Word of God that he came to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ as both his Savior and Lord. He was baptized at Clarence Center – Akron Mennonite Church in Akron, New York. As he continued his journey of discipleship, especially being challenged by Jesus’ teaching on nonviolence and nonresistance found in the Sermon on the Mount, he sensed God’s calling on his life away from serving as a police officer and towards pastoral ministry.
Because of his own personal experience of having been received graciously by a Mennonite church, which accepted him where he was at in his Christian journey and yet challenged him to grow in his discipleship, he has a very deep appreciation for the Anabaptist/Mennonite faith.
Dick has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in criminal justice from the State University of New York at Albany and a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, New York, as well as graduate course work from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He has participated in the two-year LifeSpring School of Spiritual Formation supported by Ohio Conference and has completed spiritual direction training at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. Dick has also completed several different trainings through the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center in Lombard, Illinois, and a two-year Pastors of Excellence program at Ashland Theological Seminary. He is just finishing a two-year training program in Christian Transformational Leadership at The Transforming Center outside of Chicago.
In his 16 years at Oak Grove Dick has greatly appreciated the support given to both him and the congregation from Ohio Conference. This includes Conference’s assistance with his original calling and placement at Oak Grove, several pastoral transitions during his years serving at Oak Grove, support from regional pastors and pastor peer groups, and the “Gathered and Sent” initiative that Ohio Conference has been engaged in the past several years.
While the past five to seven years have been difficult on the Conference, especially with conflict in the bigger church, resulting in several churches leaving the Conference, Dick sees God’s hand at work in the Conference and is hopeful as we continue with the “Gathered and Sent” initiative and move into the future.
Dick will begin full time on Jan. 1, 2019, hopefully being able to give one to two days a week over the next four months as he transitions from his role as lead pastor of Oak Grove to conference minister.
His priorities in the beginning months include trying to visit all the congregations in the Conference, building relationships with the pastors and other leaders, and reexamining the Conference’s current vision and structure, trying to make it sustainable, both financially and in the workload of its staff. After meeting recently with both the Leadership Team and the Ministry Development Team, it appears that he will be bringing some leadership to the “Gathered” part of the “Gathered and Sent” initiative.
Dick and his wife, Mary, who just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, reside in West Liberty. They have two sons who live outside of Buffalo, New York, and two daughters and three grandchildren who live near West Liberty. Besides spending time with his family, Dick enjoys reading, golfing and serving on the West Liberty Fire Department.
You may contact Dick Barrett by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 937-935-2549.