Jun 05, 2024 | John W. Coleman

Jo Fielding, the Eastern PA Conference’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer since March 2023, as well as Executive Director of Benefits and Director of the EPA&GNJ Mission Data Team, will retire September 1, 2024. Fielding, who has worked for the conference in different roles for 26 years, informed EPA staff of her decision in a letter June 3, and then informed conference members June 4.

“It is with a mix of emotions that I make this decision,” she wrote, “but after much prayer and discernment, I believe it is the right path for me at this time.”

The conference honored Fielding for 25 years of service at its special, adjourned legislative session in September 2023. At that session and leading up to it, she led the Finance Team in preparing and presenting a comprehensive budget—more thorough and transparent than in past years—and new policies for funds management and monitoring. It marked a timely and historic change in the conference’s challenging fiscal outlook.

Fielding also helped prepare and present a new memorandum of understanding that formalizes an ongoing collaborative partnership between the Eastern PA and Greater New Jersey annual conferences. That partnership is already benefitting both conferences’ finances, staffing, programs and services to churches. The unprecedented MOU, forged from 18 months of experimental collaboration and development, was adopted by both conferences in May.

Fielding affirms actions by EPA&GNJ, General Conference

“I want you to know that my decision to retire has nothing to do with the conference approval of the Memorandum of Understanding—a model I wholeheartedly affirm,” wrote Fielding in her letter. “In fact, I would support taking that MOU further into collaboration with the jurisdiction and the denomination. We have the best opportunity to move our mission and ministry forward when we work together!”

Fielding also affirmed her support for decisions made by the recent United Methodist General Conference that removed decades of restrictions preventing LGBTQ members from serving as pastors and being married in United Methodist churches.

“I have not made this decision because of United Methodist polity or the Holy-Spirit-moved decisions of the General Conference” she wrote. “I am excited about the path forward for United Methodists and the space for inclusion we have created and affirmed.”

‘You have helped me grow in my faith’

Jo Fielding (right) with Leah Zuckerman, EPA’s Hospitality Services Administrator

A longtime member of EPA’s Extended Cabinet, Fielding described her service to the conference as “a truly transformative experience.” She led the creation of EPA’s monthly staff worship services this year, inspiring colleagues several times with her own intimately profound meditations.

“You have helped me grow in my faith,” she wrote in her letter, expressing thanks for conference members’ “love and support” and for “the opportunity to serve alongside dedicated and gifted staff and volunteer leaders.”

Fielding said she would work with teams to ensure a successful transition to Eastern PA’s next bishop, who should be identified at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, July 8-12 in Pittsburgh. Afterward, she plans to enjoy “living into a new adventure” with her husband, “including our first grandchild, mission projects, and bucket-list travel plans.” 

Fielding closed her letter with a hopeful benediction to all: “I pray the Holy Spirit continues to move through the Eastern PA and Greater NJ conferences!”  

Praise for Jo Fielding from Bishop’s Office

Bishop John Schol and his Episcopal Office praise Jo Fielding for her “unparalleled dedication, particularly during periods of significant change and challenge, including an episcopal transition. Her commitment, professionalism, and grace have been pivotal in navigating these times, ensuring stability and progress for our organization.”

Read their full statement regarding Fielding’s contributions in her three key roles of leadership:

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of our esteemed colleague, who has served as our CFO/Treasurer, Executive Director to the Board of Benefits, and Director of the Mission Data Team. She will be stepping down from her roles on September 1, 2024.

Throughout her tenure, she has demonstrated unparalleled dedication, particularly during periods of significant change and challenge, including an episcopal transition. Her commitment, professionalism, and grace have been pivotal in navigating these times, ensuring stability and progress for our organization.

As EPA’s CFO/Treasurer:

As our CFO/Treasurer, she has managed our financial resources with exceptional skill and integrity. Her stewardship has not only maintained but strengthened our financial health, allowing us to continue our mission effectively. During the episcopal transition, she stepped up to ensure that our financial strategies aligned seamlessly with our evolving goals. Her meticulous attention to detail and strategic foresight have been invaluable assets.

As EPA’s Executive Director to the Board of Benefits:

In her role as Executive Director to the Board of Benefits, she has tirelessly worked to enhance the well-being of our members. Her compassionate approach and deep understanding of benefits administration have made a tangible difference in the lives of many. During times of change, her leadership was a beacon of stability and reassurance, guiding us through complex transitions with a steady hand.

As Director of the EPA&GNJ Mission Data Team:

Leading the Mission Data Team, she has transformed our approach to data and analytics. Her innovative vision and commitment to excellence have significantly enhanced our data capabilities, empowering us with better insights and informed decision-making. Her ability to tackle challenging projects with care and grace has set a high standard for our team, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to her for her exceptional service and leadership. Her contributions have left an indelible mark on our organization, and her legacy will continue to inspire us. Please join us in celebrating her remarkable career and wishing her all the best in her well-deserved retirement.