President-Emeritus, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Cara appreciates the power and durability, of servant leadership – a leadership that seeks the gifts of others along the pathway as opportunities for witness and new initiatives to unfold. From her interest in Methodist history and polity, which she teaches at the seminary level, to her work in peace/mediation understandings, to her experience and evolving work in the areas of community organizing, Cara brings an open mind and spirit.
She knows our denominational need to welcome all of God’s people into full participation in our work. She seeks to “see things whole” and knows the dangers of top down, “let me give the answer” approaches to ministry.
Cindy Wilcox, Ph.D.
Member of North Canton Faith United Methodist Church, North Canton, Ohio
Because she is clearly so authentically open, loving and accepting, I was able to conﬁde in her about my painful personal crisis, as well as my deeply painful experiences within the church, because of my sexual orientation. Her presence and deep compassion was a healing balm. I felt held in loving arms, as I have ever since in her presence.
As a spiritual leader, she led small group opportunities for authentic conversation about the division within the church over inclusion of LGBTQ people. She was able to create a safe space for people of deeply held, diverse views to come together, where all could speak, be listened to, and promote greater mutual understanding.
Rev. V. Yvonne Conner, EdD
Retired UM Church Elder, East Ohio
Cara cares about living out ministry in such a way where our rhetoric matches our actions. The manifestation of God’s call on Cara’s life to live and serve gives her a calmness that helps her to be heard and a tenacity that allows her to reach her goals.
When one is called by God to serve, for some, this manifestation comes like the breath of God hovering over and moving them along as a gentle breeze. A breeze that causes them to move about with purpose and distinction. This is the imagery that comes to mind for me when I think of my interactions with Cara Stultz Costello and her leadership style.
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
I first met DS Costello while marching/walking the streets of downtown Canton, Ohio 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.
Rev. Dr. C. M. Kempton Hewitt, Ph.D
Emeritus Professor of Biblical Interpretation, The Methodist Theological School in Ohio
Her spiritual core is cultivated by her close attention to the Voice heard in mindful study of Scripture, by artful expressions that allow the soul to breathe, and by prayerful encounters within and without the confines of her heart.
We yearn for leaders like her.
I enter the next phase of the life of the United Methodist Church with fresh hope when I envision Cara as one of the new class of bishops. Her sound character, values, and spiritual center make her the single candidate I am willing to endorse in this critical round of selections for the office of bishop.
Previous member of North Canton Faith UMC with Cara as one of her pastors
I have witnessed Cara tame a room of fiery opinions to enable rational discussion and reasonable debate. And I’ve also seen her inspire a crowd with the energy to ignite action.
Cara is consumed by the Holy Spirit and it pours out of her in equal parts passion and compassion making she, herself, a spirit that people are compelled to follow.
Cara has been called to be a candidate for the episcopacy at precisely this time because, I believe, we as a church need her brand of leadership right now. There is no one I want illuminating our path forward more than Cara.
Rev. Luigi Perez Perez
Full Elder in The United Methodist Church
Cara has been displaying and perfecting her empathic and thoughtful availability for all people for many years… Such a gift will help The United Methodist Church heal and create a wider space to serve and fully embrace the whole of God’s creation.
As a creative and visionary leader, Cara will re-appropriate our Wesleyan heritage with passion and integrity, resulting in new constructive approaches to address present and future challenges and opportunities.
With her more than 30 years of servant leadership, both as lay and clergy, Cara brings unique perspectives and talents to the Episcopacy. She brings the gifts of courageous leadership, a trained mind, and a perceptive and caring heart.
Lydia and Russell Aldridge
Previous young adult members of North Canton Faith UMC
Cara’s way of creating safety, holding space for curiosity, and extending compassion was something we had never seen in a local church. We were drawn to Cara’s ability to call folks into the pursuit of justice and acceptance of all people, and to do it in a way that exuded humility and patience, knowing that shame had no place in her ministry. – Lydia Aldridge
Cara is the embodiment of what it means to reflect the ministry of Jesus in both her work and her relationships. I see Cara as a bridge builder in her ministry and leadership, and I believe she creates psychological and social safety in the ways she interacts with those around her, including those within and outside of the church as well as those who have been historically marginalized and oppressed. – Russell Aldridge
Rev. Beth Ortiz
Director of Strategic Ministries, East Ohio Conference of UMC
She had an innate way to both calm my storm and fear of the unknown, while lovingly encouraging me to trust God and to walk into the unknown.
Through Cara’s leadership the culture of the Board of Ministry changed. Within the new and growing culture, candidates continued to be accountable to the Board to engage in the process, but the Board also became accountable to the candidates to offer equal and compassionate interactions. This atmosphere continues now even as Cara has moved on from this position. This indicates not only her ability to lead change but to change culture in a way that it is not always reliant on her and can be passed from generation to generation.
I have seen her be compassionate and gentle with clergy when they are struggling, and I have seen her lovingly guide them to keep focused on God’s will when they have become stuck.
Felix Ortiz Cruzado
Son of a Disciples of Christ Missionary
Cara stopped in the midst of what she was doing to truly meet me. As I was new to this place, to be seen was truly a gift. We didn’t talk long, but in that moment, she made space for me.
Cara embodies the belief that we were created for goodness, she can see that goodness in others, and responds to that over any human qualifications of who is worth our time, our presence, and our grace.
As a son of a Disciples of Christ missionary and as an Afro-Caribbean person often in white spaces, I have met many faith leaders around the world and had both wonderful and negative experiences. I can honestly say that Cara possesses what I consider to be some of the most important qualities of a faith leader- she makes space at the table for you and it feels as if her love comes without qualification or a needing to be ‘right’ in some way, whether that is the ‘right’ skin tone, ‘right’ denomination, or any other marker of this world.
Pastor Marc Tibbs
Licensed Local Pastor, East Ohio Conference of the UMC serving Centenary United Methodist Church, Akron
She showed us… through praise dancing, how to offer one’s whole self to the Lord. JOY is her modus operandi… She is always such a joy to be around.
Rev. Carrie Antczak
Deacon, East Ohio
Let not her tenderness lead you to believe she is soft though. She is a woman of deep strength, conviction, and calling. Her strength in moving the church towards meaningful change has led to fruitful ministry. She brings hope and optimism to even the most contentious environments.
Founder and Director Emerita
The Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion
Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC
The capacity to bring imagination and an understanding of applied creativity are essential attributes for new leaders called to shape signiﬁcantly fresh directions and implement them in original ways.
Finding such a leader who also comes with a solid history of ecclesial engagement is a gift. This candidate, Reverend Cara Stultz Costello, meets these criteria.