(Indianapolis, Ind. – DNS – Nov. 19, 2009) – A Disciples pastor whose church has demonstrated outstanding stewardship has been called to serve as the new Minister of Faith and Giving. Bruce Barkhauer, senior minister of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Jeffersonville, Ind., will assume his new position beginning on Feb. 1.
“I am excited about Bruce’s call to lead the church in this important and vital ministry,” said Todd Adams, Associate General Minister and Vice President. “I first met Bruce at a stewardship training event where I was one of the leaders. As we engaged in conversation, I remember thinking, ‘He could be up here teaching this as well!’ I look forward to the many ways in which his ministry will bless and lead the wider church.”
Barkhauer has been pastor of First Christian in Jeffersonville since 1996. His congregation of 400 members contributes about three quarters of a million dollars a year to the church’s ministries.
“I’m thrilled to become a part of this process for the Church. I am very humbled by it,” said Barkhauer. “I am asking for people’s prayers, not only for myself and my ministry but for the Church in general as we undertake this endeavor.”
John Mobley, chair of the Center for Faith and Giving, and regional minister of Alabama/Northwest Florida, said Barkhauer has been an effective pastor, has a background in business and communication, and has been active in community service and organization. “Rev. Barkhauer will give leadership to the development of a five-year plan during his first six months,” said Mobley.
Mobley said the Church will benefit from a ministry that is dedicated to helping Disciples understand stewardship as a life-response to the love and generosity of God. Although many ministries of the church already emphasize the importance of stewardship, stewardship has not become a church-wide priority.
Barkhauer graduated from Ohio University in Athens in 1979. He attended Lexington Theological Seminary and earned a M.Div. degree from Christian Theological Seminary in 1985. He also did significant doctor of ministry work at Ashland Theological Seminary. During his undergraduate studies he was an intern with the Phil Donahue Show in Chicago, and later served as the general manager of WJMM-FM, a Christian radio station in Lexington, Ky.
R. Glen Miles, chair of the search committee, said the new minister of Faith and Giving is a tremendously gifted communicator. “Bruce is passionate about stewardship,” said Miles, senior minister of Country Club Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kansas City.
Marilyn S. Fiddmont, also a member of the search committee, believes that Barkhauer has a clear, uncompromising theological understanding of stewardship – not only as a financial impetus but as a spiritual discipline. Barkhauer is focused, visionary, articulate, and yet practical in his understanding of faith and giving, she noted. Fiddmont is assistant vice president of the Christian Church Foundation in the South Central Zone. “This was demonstrated not only in abstract terms but in a tangible proven record both personally and in the congregation he has served,” she said. “He has been instrumental in creating a culture of generosity in that community.”
First Christian Church, Jeffersonville, where Barkhauer is pastor, contributes about $750,000 a year to its debt retirement, mission, and operating budget, “which is amazing, considering its size,” he said.
“The first thing I will do is a lot of listening,” said Barkhauer. “I will listen to the General Ministries, I will listen to the Regional Ministries, and I will listen to the congregational pastors. From that, my advisory committee and I will get a sense of the resources that are needed to help cultivate a culture of generosity across the life of the Church.
“It was tough recently to announce that we were leaving the church and the ministry that we’ve had for 14 years,” said Barkhauer. “Folks were very kind and very sad. We received a standing ovation at the end of the meeting – a little awkward, but touching and well intended.” He and his wife, Laura, have three grown children.