The Rev. Chris Roseland named acting senior director of Mission Engagement and Support

Seasoned church professional joined the Presbyterian Mission Agency in 2009

by Emily Enders Odom, Mission Engagement and Support | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Chris Roseland

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Chris Roseland has been named acting senior director of Mission Engagement and Support in the Presbyterian Mission Agency effective June 30. He succeeds the Rev. Rosemary C. Mitchell, who recently announced her retirement after nearly 10 years with the PMA.

Roseland, who is known for his buoyant enthusiasm, warm hospitality and for developing and leading MES’s team of mission engagement advisors, joined the PMA in 2009. He was appointed lead mission engagement advisor in 2016.

When invited to serve in his new role, the ordinarily gregarious Roseland had few words. “I’m here to help,” he simply said.

Roseland came to the PMA after having served two and a half years as director of Church Relations for the Presbyterian-related Hanover College in Indiana. With over 30 years of experience in fundraising, pastoral ministry and social work, Roseland enjoys — and excels at — building relationships.

“Chris brings just the right blend of wisdom from experience, pastoral compassion, and ‘let’s do this’ hopefulness for this season of ministry in MES and PMA,” notes Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall, the PMA’s Deputy Executive for Vision, Innovation and Rebuilding. “We welcome his leadership.”

Perhaps because he is a pastor himself, Roseland said that what has energized him most about his work in MES has been interacting with other pastors, mid council leaders, committees, networks and groups to talk about mission.

“Whenever I call on a pastor to connect, we always laugh,” he said, “because I’ve been where they are. I really enjoy getting out there and networking with different people across the PC(USA), finding out what their story is and how we can work together to further God’s mission.”

For Roseland, mission is the key to cultivating the support of churches, mid councils, and their individual members at the denominational level. “We are trying to get back on the radar screen for many of our PC(USA) constituencies,” he said. “Many do not look to the Mission Agency when they want to expand their mission portfolios, and yet we do mission at the directive of the General Assembly.”

Having served as a teaching elder commissioner to the 217th General Assembly (2006) and attended countless regional and national gatherings, Roseland is a believer in the unifying power of the connectional church.

“Mission unites us,” he said. “Mission is common ground especially during this time of a pandemic, protests, polarization and politics. Generally, when we come together in mission, we set aside political, philosophical, economic, racial and theological differences to focus on immediate needs.”

In recent years, Roseland has also been a champion in leading MES’s efforts to raise awareness and engagement with Matthew 25, which he sees as uniting Presbyterians in a common identity. “It’s a vision for us as a church to get back to our missional roots together,” he said.

A minister member of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley who earned degrees in social work and religious education in addition to an M.Div. from the Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, Roseland also holds a certificate in Fund Raising Management from the IUPUI Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

A longtime resident of Lexington, Kentucky, Roseland has also actively volunteered with several area nonprofits, including the Hope Center Recovery Program for Men and Habitat for Humanity of the Bluegrass, whose philosophy he finds consonant with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

“Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity, spoke about ‘the theology of the hammer,’” he explained. “In other words, when you pick up a hammer and start building a Habitat house, you put aside all your differences because it’s all about working together to build a house. Mission matters.”

That’s just how Roseland articulates his new call as MES’s acting senior director.

“We’re trying to build God’s house,” he said. “We are the church together, working to build the kin-dom of God. We must set aside our differences in order to go forward.”

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