Much of the work of the Mid-America Union ministerial director is done out of the public eye, yet this person is highly visible to the ministerial directors of the six conferences. 

Much energy, support, and encouragement pours directly into the team of six conference ministerial directors in Mid- America: Merlin Knowles, Dakota; Joseph Ikner, Central States; Lee Rochholz, Iowa-Missouri; Virgil Covel, Kansas-Nebraska; Karen Lewis, Minnesota, (who is one of only two women in a ministerial director position in North America); and Mickey Mallory, Rocky Mountain.

Building a cohesive team spirit has been among the highest priorities, since high-trust relationships foster an easy flow of resources, ideas and support, all of which better enable conference ministerial directors to support and care for local pastors.

For most of the past quinquennium, Mic Thurber filled this role. In August 2021, he  accepted the invitation of the Rocky Mountain Conference Executive Committee to serve as RMC’s president. Following is a report he prepared before accepting his new position.


Though most of my work supports ministerial directors, there is much I do to directly support our pastors. For example, I speak frequently to our pastors for training or devotionals, and I provide leadership coaching for pastors who request it.

We plan and host our union-wide pastors convention, like the one held in Omaha in July of 2017. Focusing especially on strengthening the home and family of the pastor, we brought in Mark Gungor, who is famous for his “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” seminars. Laughter often unlocks our defenses so that important things can be learned, which is especially Mark’s gift. 

One of the most memorable and moving times in our convention was during our opening meeting when I invited all the pastors and spouses to come to the platform to affix their family’s picture to the cross. Bringing our families to the cross right from the start set a tone that lasted throughout our time together. 

Our bi-annual union-wide pastoral intern retreats bring together new-in-ministry workers from around our territory to become acquainted with their peers, learn about the wider church, and gain insights and support as they navigate ministry that often turns out to be quite different from what they expected. We have held three such retreats now.

The MAUC Ministerial Department helps coordinate the annual theology student interviews with the Religion Department of Union College. Before COVID, we hosted a nice dinner for the students, faculty, and conference leaders to enable them to become personally acquainted with each other before the more formal interviews took place. 


Of course, some works does come into public view, such as preaching in local churches throughout our union when invited, as well as for camp meetings, special weekends, and training sessions for local church leaders and members. And duties occasionally reach outside our union’s territory. During this last quinquennium I was asked by the NAD Ministerial Department to take the lead in creating a new manual for ministerial directors across North America. I chaired its development committee and served as its editor and principal writer. The project was completed as an on-line resource that can be easily updated as new practices emerge. In addition to writing the new manual, I have served as both a formal and informal coach for ministerial directors in various parts of the NAD.


My last words are about the group of people for whom my heart beats most—pastors. I love my

work because I love our pastors, and I love the work of pastoral ministry. Though rarely easy, it is truly rewarding. Because humanity’s needs are vast and growing wider every day, the work of ministry is constantly changing, and that requires an unbroken connection with the Source of power.

And that was before the pandemic hit.

When COVID started, our pastors could well have just given up, but instead, they said, “Yes, Lord!” and

worked even harder in the face of significant difficulty.  I’ve been amazed at how adeptly pastors adapted to ministry under a whole new reality that no one saw coming. So I want to thank and affirm them for the extra hours they have worked to stay connected with you, provide on-line services,and for remaining faithful in their service for Jesus.

Finally, I hope each of us will say, “Yes, Lord!”, and commit to faithfully gather as the body of Christ whenever we are able. I know the pastors have missed you! Just as my heart beats for pastors, I know their hearts beat for you.

And if you haven’t done so lately, please speak a word of love and support to your pastor. I know that will mean a lot to them as they continue to do their best to serve you and the risen Christ.


Mic Thurber is outgoing ministerial director for the Mid-America Union Conference. He begins his new role as president of the Rocky Mountain Conference on Sep 1, 2021.