Q&A With Kathryn H. Dennis, Board Chair, and Mathew A. Pinson, President
The Georgia United Methodist Foundation is pleased to introduce Kathryn H. Dennis, chair of the board of trustees, and Mathew A. Pinson, president and chief executive officer. They began their new roles on July 1, 2021.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.
Mathew: I’m a lifelong Georgia United Methodist and was raised in the parsonage in the North Georgia Conference. We developed strong relationships through my dad (the Rev. John Pinson, North West district superintendent) with clergy and lay people throughout both conferences. I served as the lay leader of the North Georgia Conference and as chair of the delegation for North Georgia. I also like to share that I’m an Eagle Scout. I’m married to the Rev. Susan Pinson, an ordained deacon in the North Georgia Conference. We have two children, Elizabeth and Henry.
Kathryn: I was born and raised in Atlanta but have lived in Macon for 34 years. My husband, Brown, and I have three adult children and two grandchildren. I am a University of Georgia graduate. I was a banker for 18 years, and I have served as president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia for 19 years. We are the third generation at Vineville UMC, and our children are the fourth generation.
Q: What makes you excited about coming to the Foundation?
Mathew: First, the Foundation’s mission as it relates to the North and South Georgia Conferences provides a unique opportunity to partner with Georgia Methodists. Second, it is the people. I was very impressed by the professional staff and the excellent volunteer leadership of the Foundation.
Kathryn: Like Mathew, it’s the mission and the uniting nature of the Foundation. I felt deep in my soul that this is what God was calling me to do. I’m also excited about working with Mathew and the team to define what the next decade looks like for the Foundation and being able to share that good news with Methodists in our state. I respect the Rev. Keith Lawder (retired GUMF president/CEO) for what he and the leadership have done. You’re only as strong as the foundation of the people who came before you. I believe we’re poised for growth and positive opportunities where the Foundation can support our churches and members.
Q: What is your vision for the Foundation’s future?
Mathew: I believe what’s most important is to lean into our mission and the spaces where the Foundation excels with excellence. As we cast a vision for the next decade that Kathryn talked about, we will work together with our staff and volunteer leaders to amplify and elevate our mission and the mission of the United Methodist Church through the churches and agencies we serve.
Kathryn: I share Mathew’s vision for the future. How can the Foundation support the Methodist churches in Georgia with what they want to accomplish, whether it’s making disciples of Jesus Christ, helping churches grow their endowments, or providing loans for churches to offer a place where members want to come?
Q: What are your goals and aspirations for the Foundation?
Mathew: As we emerge from the pandemic, there’s going to be an opportunity for the church to be the church in a stronger, more vibrant way. It would be great if the Foundation, as one of its principal goals, steps forward and says, “We’re here to be your partner in ministry. We want to offer ourselves as a resource in the spaces we excel so that we can contribute to and support the mission of congregations and agencies here in Georgia.”
Kathryn: I look forward to working with Mathew and the staff to define what the board sees as the Foundation’s future and goals. After Mathew gets settled, I believe it’s time for a strategic plan.
Q: How do your gifts and experiences fit in with these goals?
Mathew: From my perspective, the strength that I bring is in relationships and an ability to help organize and lead, where appropriate, a team of staff and volunteers to help chart a path for the future.
Kathryn: Both Mathew and I are very relationship-driven. We appreciate knowing many different people and hearing other ideas. We are conveners and bridge builders. I believe my experience leading the Community Foundation of Central Georgia will help our Foundation crystalize what we do, what value we can provide, and how we can help our Methodist partners reach their goals.
Q: We often say the Foundation is one of the best-kept secrets in Georgia. How do you plan on letting the secret out?
Mathew: I believe the best-kept secret is the Foundation’s people and resources. It’s a matter of deploying current and former staff and volunteer leaders strategically across the state so that we can elevate our mission for the congregations and agencies that advance Christ’s mission through the Methodist movement in Georgia.
Kathryn: I believe storytelling is essential where we give concrete examples of how the Foundation has provided solutions in the past. It’s on us to make sure that the bishops and district superintendents understand where the Foundation can step in and help and serve as a solution.
Q: What would you like people to know about the Foundation?
Mathew: I would like people to know that the Foundation’s professional staff and strong volunteer network have some of the finest thought leaders and partners in the space of faith-based financial solutions known in Georgia Methodism. And, if you need a financial resource, a partner in any number of areas, the Foundation has experts who can help you confront a challenge, solve a problem, seize an opportunity, and expand, grow, and elevate the mission and ministry of your church or organization.
Kathryn: We offer faith-based philanthropic and financial solutions. We’re not knocking on your door asking for money. We’re knocking on your door, saying, “How can we help you?” The strength of our organization is its people, particularly our new president, Mathew Pinson. We have strong people of faith who care and have the skills needed to help bring solutions to challenges.
Q: What would you say are the top three challenges facing the Foundation in the days ahead?
Mathew: The first challenge is how do we cast a vision for ourselves that allows us to be a leader as we emerge from this global pandemic that’s impacted ministries of the church here in Georgia and all over the world? Second, how do we set ourselves apart and distinguish our mission from other organizations that do similar work but don’t do it in the faith-based space on behalf of Methodists across Georgia? Third, how do we reassure people that regardless of changes in the denomination’s structure, we intend to continue providing the kind of leadership and support of church ministries that we have always offered?