In support of District Superintendent Cara Stultz Costello. Candidate for the Office of the Episcopacy of the United Methodist Church.
Saturday, October 1, 2022
From Rev. Dr. Angela Cowser
Associate Professor of Black Church Studies and Doctor of Ministry Programs and Associate Dean of Doctor of Ministry Programs at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
This letter is in full support and the glad endorsement of the candidacy of District Superintendent Cara Stultz Costello for the Office of the Episcopacy of the United Methodist Church [Fall 2022].
My name is Rev. Dr. Angela Cowser, and I serve as Associate Professor of Black Church Studies and Doctor of Ministry Programs, and Associate Dean of Doctor of Ministry Programs at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary [Louisville, Kentucky]. I am also the Principal Investigator of a Thriving Congregations research project with the Canal, Tuscarawas and Mahoning Valley districts.
I first met DS Costello in Summer-Fall 2021, while marching/walking the streets of downtown Canton, Ohio and other Canton, OH neighborhoods with community leaders and members of Crossroads United Methodist Church in support of the building of affordable housing in Canton. It was hot, people were thirsty and probably hungry, passersby were honking their horns in either support or bewilderment, and yet, we marched forward, a happy, thirsty, hungry, merry band of people – glad for the opportunity to stand up and build up. And there, in the midst, was District Superintendent Cara, laughing and joyful, playful and glad to be on the streets, counted among the saints, building up the Kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven.
Personally, I was astonished that a District Superintendent would be marching on the streets with us, and yet, there DS Cara was. I knew then that there was something different about this DS, not above, neither below, but with us.
And then, there is the Thriving Congregations [TC] initiative among 3 Districts in NE Ohio, of which DS Cara’s Tuscarawas District is one. And this is where I’ve gotten to know DS Cara as a leader of leaders, a joyful disciple of Jesus, a colleague, and a friend. For the TC initiative, DS Cara selected three of her strongest congregations and 3 of her most gifted clergy leaders to participate in this research project. DS Cara has been an enthusiastic participant in this work from its earliest days and, she continues to provide joyful, visionary leadership to this work now by providing support of every kind needed, consistent participation in the research, and leadership of the highest order.
DS Cara shows up. She shows up in her blue Subaru station wagon to trainings, plenary sessions, regular Zoom meetings, etc. In showing up to lowly things, she demonstrates character of the highest order. By fully engaging and participating enthusiastically as a thought leader in every level and phase of our work and research, she demonstrates commitment of the highest order. And in her joy and delight in ministering with and to those striving towards discipleship, she demonstrates fidelity to the gospel and to Jesus. It is for these reasons that I endorse DS Cara’s candidacy to the Office of Bishop in the United Methodist Church. Thank you very much.