By Paul Black
SPRINGFIELD – In consultation with the IGRC Camping Commission and the Cabinet, Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton has announced the appointment of the Rev. Ed Hoke to a newly-created Minister of Mission Expansion, effective Jan. 1.
Hoke, pastor of the Goreville and Creal Springs UMC’s in the Cache River District and chair of the IGRC Commission on Camping and Retreat Ministries for the past three years, will be leaving both assignments to accept the new, full-time position within camping.
Based at Little Grassy Camp, the Minister of Mission Expansion was created in response to the Camping Commission’s commitment to greater intentionality in its role as a conference ministry, which is to equip local churches for ministry and to provide a connection for ministry beyond the local church.
Hoke emerged from a field of candidates for the ordained position, which is likened to the role of a lead pastor in a local church. Hoke’s responsibility will be to hold the Camping and Retreat Ministries’ vision and assure that all parts of the camp’s operation are aligned with that vision. He will give oversight to the health of the whole ministry, provide resources and supervise year-round camp staff.
The position is not a traditional site manager who is involved chiefly in the daily operations of the property and facility. At Little Grassy, a facilities manager, kitchen manager and office manager will undertake these tasks. Rather, Hoke will join a larger team of site and program leaders that are part of the Camping makeover that includes reallocation of financial assets, property and staff time and energy to address the needs for modernization and new models for ministry at the two IGRC-owned sites. The makeover also includes the establishment of a fund to provide program grants to local churches and their leaders for retreats initiated by the local church.
The Minister of Mission Expansion will position the ministry to be missionally relevant. He will be in constant conversation with local churches, individual leaders, and community non-profit organizations to identify needs and help meet those needs through hospitality and programs designed to meet those needs. The MME will be a constant pastoral presence on site, available to administer sacraments and preach.
The Camping Commission hopes to place a second Minister of Mission Expansion at East Bay Camp as soon as possible.
Hoke is a veteran of camping ministry with more than 30 years of experience in pastoring local churches. From January 1991 to June 1998, Hoke served as manager and director of Little Grassy Camp in the more traditional site manager role. He has also been active individual camps and provided program leadership.