Cedrick Bridgeforth

Ethnic Background: African American

Conference: California Pacific

Probationary Date: 06/15/2002

Full Membership Date: 06/24/2006

Number of Eligible Quadrenniums: 4


Education:
Doctor of Education, Organizational Leadership (Pepperdine University) Malibu, CA
Master of Divinity (Claremont School of Theology) Claremont, CA
Bachelor of Arts, Religion (Samford University) Birmingham, AL

Ministry Experience:
Director of Innovation & Communication (California-Pacific) Pasadena, CA; 2021 – Present
Principal Consultant/Coach (20/20 Leadership Lessons) Los Angeles, CA; 2017 – Present
Lead Pastor (Grace United Methodist Church) Los Angeles, CA; 2018 – 2021
Director of Academic Programs & Outreach (Univ. of LaVerne, Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies) Irvine, CA; 2016 – 2020
Lead Pastor (Santa Ana United Methodist Church) Santa Ana, CA; 2015 – 2017
District Superintendent (California-Pacific) Pasadena, CA; 2008 – 2015
Pastor (Crenshaw United Methodist Church) Los Angeles, CA; 2003 – 2008
Director of Alumni & Church Relations (Claremont School of Theology) Claremont, CA; 2001 – 2003
Pastor (Bowen Memorial United Methodist Church) Los Angeles, CA; 1999 – 2003

Community and Ecumenical Involvement:
Participant (Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative) 2015 – Present
Board Member (Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development) 2016 – 2019
Chairperson (Black Methodists for Church Renewal) 2013 – 2016
Board Member (Black Methodists for Church Renewal) 2010 – 2013
Volunteer (Big Brothers/Big Sisters) 2011 – 2014
Participant (Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders) 2008 – 2012

Other Relevant Experience:
Advisory Board Member, Design Thinking Program (Univ. of California, Riverside) 2021 – Present
Member (International Federation of Coaches) 2020 – Present
Co-Chair, Conference Nominating Committee (California-Pacific) 2019 – Present
Member, Connectional Table (California-Pacific) 2016 – Present
Co-Chair, District Re-Alignment Team (California-Pacific) 2015 – 2017
General Conference Delegate (California-Pacific) 2012 – Present
Member, Nominating Committee (Western Jurisdiction, UMC) 2013 – 2016
Board Member (Wespath/Gen. Board of Pensions & Health Benefits) 2012 – 2016
Leadership Coordinator (Western Jurisdiction, UMC) 2012 – 2016
Cabinet Dean (California-Pacific) 2011 – 2015
Member, Board of Congregational Development (California-Pacific) 2004 – 2010
Jurisdictional Conference Delegate (California-Pacific) 2008


Why are you being called to the episcopacy at this time? What is it that you especially bring to the role of bishop with the current challenges facing our denomination and the Western Jurisdiction right now?
The current challenges of division, disconnection, and decline require leadership that exhibits and relies on strategic coalitions, proactive collaboration, and community-centered innovations. I am open to this calling and office because my years in ministry have afforded me a variety of appointments and assignments that brought me into service with diverse ideologies, groups, and communities around the world. Whenever my orientations or opinions differ, I excel in collaborative experiences by centering myself spiritually, listening deeply, and challenging myself to prioritize doing what is right vs. being right.

There’s an awareness that division is often painful, but it is not inherently wrong. Sometimes, families, communities, nations, and churches must separate before they can find new life and purpose. As a superintendent, I led several churches through discontinuance and merger processes. That was painful but necessary. When we re-aligned our districts, that required focus on equity vs. equality when it came to the re-distribution of assets. Hard truths, patience, and a vision was and still are what is needed to accept and adapt to change. Also, determining and claiming our true identities is key to liberating structures and forming vital faith communities.

The disconnections we see require more than soup, study, or petitions. Jurisdictional leaders must develop strategic coalitions with elected officials and nonprofits as a way of leveraging our assets to transform our congregations and contexts. The exponential decline in worship attendance, volunteerism, and giving through apportionments, tithes, and offerings, requires the courage for innovations in appointment making, policies for repurposing properties, and entities for developing multiple streams of income for local churches and annual conferences.

The adventures and learnings of pastoral ministry, superintendency, development officer, program director, leadership coach, educator, and congregational consultant inform how I lead. My quest for excellence and transformation creates opportunities for a team to ideate, challenge systems, and bring others together while championing their gifts and ideas. Hallmarks of my ministry include relevant messaging, practical solutions, and accountable structures, and none will dissipate in any future assignment.

The road ahead is long and leads to our preferred future. I believe my diverse experiences, longstanding relationships, and intersecting identities are assets that help us unify, ideate, innovate, and evangelize into a church that thrives.

Describe how the last two years have affected your ministry.
My ministry has been affected as a local church pastor and conference staff in the last two years. In the local church, I pivoted from a Sunday worship-centered ministry to a 24/7 digital hub for spiritual care, financial sustainability, racial reckoning, and food security. There was an exponential change in the time and pace required to move a system through a change process. Clarity of vision, roles, and expectations increased along with amplified shortcomings and resources in our policies, structures, and behaviors. I witnessed drastic changes in individual attendance, family engagement, and congregational giving within the local church. All were positive shifts, and although an avid learner, I had to learn how to learn the things I must implement while understanding the implications and applications.

The events and transitions in the last two years have helped me approach ministry with greater intentionality and focus. As director of innovation & communication for the conference, I see the immense weight the pace undertaken during the pandemic has on clergy and laity in local churches and conference structures. The distance increased between the breakneck speed of ministry and any notion of a sabbath. The need to retool staff and redirect the church to be present and engaged with in-person opportunities and form online communities are significant challenges that grew during the pandemic.

My work involves getting us to move beyond our ideological strongholds and encouraging us to see how what we offer daily impacts climate change, consideration of unborn children, rights of the poor, and access to liberties that affirm one’s humanity matters. The past two years have confirmed that being loud, connected, and clever is not synonymous with being prophetic or a good leader. Addressing problems in a vacuum or rehashing decades-old answers in response to today’s issues is tantamount to malpractice.

Serving in a conference role affords me opportunities to lift the need for brave spaces and seek out courageous leaders. I was positively affected as I engaged those who long to work collaboratively and accept the realities of ministry without quick or easy answers. I am clear that the sacrificial giving of time and talent made it possible for some churches to slow down and others to catch up, whether in ministry relevance, technology, or racial reconciliation. We need diverse perspectives and various gifts to achieve our highest ideals and garner support for a vision of our preferred future. I am committed to resisting the urge to seek ways to return to the familiar without exploring new possibilities.


 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This