Rodriguez new IGRC Director of Congregational Development


Sam RodriguezBy Paul Black
SPRINGFIELD – Bishop Frank J. Beard has announced that Sam Rodriguez has been named IGRC Director of Congregational Development, effective Nov. 1.
Rodriguez succeeds the Rev. Mike Crawford as head of congregational development. Crawford, who has led congregational development efforts in the conference since 2006, was named Spoon River District Superintendent July 1.
Rodriguez comes from the West Ohio Conference where he has served as Director of Faith Formation and Community Engagement for the past 3 ½ years. A layperson, Rodriguez has more than 22 years of experience leading in local church community engagement, discipleship-making, church planting and development.
He was introduced to the IGRC as one of the keynote speakers at the April 2 Better Together celebration event at Belleville Union UMC.
“Sam’s experience with the general church and Discipleship Ministries as well as his experience in the West Ohio Conference, will enable him to hit the ground running,” Bishop Beard said in his announcement. “His addition to the IGRC staff increases the diversity of our leadership team and helps us to model the diversity that is within our congregations.
“Our hope is that Sam will help us to ensure that our pastors and laity are growing in their cross-cultural competencies. The end result will be our ability to reach new people with the good news of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Beard continued. “I am thrilled to have another gifted lay person join our staff. We welcome him and look forward to working together to strengthen the ministries of the IGRC.”
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, who serves the West Ohio Conference and previously was Bishop of the Illinois Area from 2008 to 2012 and again in an interim capacity from January to June 2022, echoed Bishop Beard’s assessment.
“Sam Rodriguez is a true servant leader who sold out to Jesus Christ and to the ministry of ‘equipping the saints for ministry.’ His experiences in ministry thus far have prepared him for this moment to partner with the IGRC in developing new faith communities and existing congregations to lean with new eyes and fresh wind into the future.”
IGRC Director of Connectional Ministries, the Rev. Dr. Curtis Brown, is familiar with Rodriguez’s work.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sam on starting new churches in various roles for the past 15 years,” Brown said. “Sam brings a wealth of experience and passion for helping churches reach new people and new kinds of people. As a layperson, he brings a different perspective that will enrich our approaches to growing vital congregations across the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. I hope you’ll join me in praying for his transition to our team and his work in our midst!”
Prior to his tenure in West Ohio, Rodriguez served in several positions within the General Church. He was Director of Conference Relations for the General Commission on Religion and Race where he built networks with individual annual conference to increase its capacity and networking for ministry.
He also spent eight years as Director of Hispanic/Latino and Multi-Ethnic New Church Starts with Discipleship Ministries where he trained potential church planters and launch teams to create new faith communities in Latinx and multi-ethnic contexts utilizing lay missionary planting, launch team training, foundational coaching, and Pentecost Journey: Planning Guide for non-Hispanic/Latino Congregations. Much of the training curriculum was authored by Rodriguez.
He has also seven years’ experience in the Central Texas Conference as Director of Hispanic/Latino Ministries, and four years as Director of Latino Ministries for the Bay Spring District, a network of 41 faith communities in West Texas.
He is a 1994 graduate of University of Texas at El Paso College of Liberal Arts and a 2006 graduate of Texas Christian University with a master’s degree in Practical Theology. Rodriguez is a Marine Corps veteran having served for six years.