RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … “What I will miss is the people,” Ed Barnett said.
The conference office staff was stunned and is still absorbing the news of the announcement made by Ed Barnett, RMC president. On April 6, at the end of their first in-person staff meeting of 2021 Barnett told his staff he is planning to retire on August 31.
Barnett met his partner in ministry, Shirley, while at Pioneer Valley Academy, but their ministry together didn’t begin until February 1979 when they graduated from Atlantic Union College. “She was an RN and I had a theology degree,” he reminisced. After 42 years, Shirley still looks forward to traveling to do ministry together. The Barnetts plan to move to Florida in September to spend more time with their children and grandchildren and when possible, continue his pastoral ministry.
Barnett has served in several conferences in many ministerial positions, including the Minnesota Conference as president. His introduction to the Rocky Mountain Conference began when he served as the senior pastor of Denver South church in the early 2000s, and as RMC president since 2014.
Barnett says he feels comfortable retiring knowing the Rocky Mountain Conference is strong and will continue to advance God’s Kingdom. He often points out to being blessed by God with “generosity of our members as they continue to build the mission of the church.”
“I would like to think that our members know they have been loved and we have tried to do everything we could to help our schools and churches care for people.” Barnett would like his legacy to be the knowledge he encouraged on how to grow healthy churches and have open conversations in the church about the quality of Christian life, “where Jesus is at the center of all we do.” Barnett said what is the most important for our churches is bring back our missing members.
Gary Thurber, Mid-America Union Conference president and former RMC president, commented on Barnett’s decision to retire:
“Ed Barnett is one of those rare people who, no matter what task he has to do, excels. People of RMC have first-hand experience in watching him as a pastor as he skillfully and lovingly led the Denver South church for many years,” Thurber said.
“Ed also has a gift as an administrator. Everyone who worked for Ed both in Minnesota and RMC when he served as president, loved him because of his wisdom, kindness, and passion for mission,” Thurber added. “He will be missed greatly by our Mid-America Union team here in Lincoln and I know [he will be missed] even more by the friends he has made in RMC. We wish Ed and Shirley much joy in this next step of their journey.”
For lifelong friend and ministry partner, Brighton church pastor Wayne Morrison, Barnett’s passion for leadership will be missed. “I have had the privilege of working with Ed in two conferences and he truly is a godly leader. Ed is able to be both a friend and a leader, always encouraging, and a steady example of leaning into Jesus. Some may think of golf as his passion, but more than golf [his passion is] evangelism, Christian education, and sharing the love of Jesus in all aspects of church and social interactions! Ed, congratulations, my friend, you will be missed!”
For Diane Harris, newly appointed RMC director of education, she is having a hard time adjusting to the news, “every time I think about it I start crying.”
“Harris adds, “I have known Ed for many years. As my pastor, he dedicated my oldest daughter, then baptized her many years later. As my conference president, he has been an incredible supporter of Adventist education and his leadership and ministry will be greatly missed.”
Barnett’s leadership and friendship are valued by many, including Rajmund Dabrowski, RMC communication director, who Barnett asked to serve in RMC in 2015 after his retirement from ministry and move to the Rocky Mountain Conference.
“What will stay with me after Ed retires, is his honesty, openness, and total commitment to the Good News of Jesus Christ. He inspired me by his reaction to every issue of the RMC quarterly magazine Mountain Views and often said, ‘Keep the conversation going. There is no topic off limits in this church.’”
The authentic love and kindness he displayed will be remembered by many co-workers. Following the announcement, many left the meeting stunned and trying to understand what will come next. Jessyka Dooley, assistant youth director, is refusing to accept the news. For them [the youth department], Barnett’s legacy means support in bringing youth to the leadership positions in the conference and in the churches.
“Ed is going to be deeply missed! Our youth ministry team has been lucky to serve in a conference where the president is so incredibly supportive of relevant ministry,” Jessyka Dooley, expressed. “Ed goes above and beyond as a leader because he truly cares for the people he serves in the Rocky Mountain Conference. I’m truly thankful to have worked with, and even gotten to play a round of golf with, the one and only Ed Barnett!”
One of Barnett’s final messages to RMC members is a message that has been at the foundation of his life ministry. “Jesus is coming soon! Make Jesus the center of who you are and how you fulfill His mission,” Barnett said.
The RMC Executive Committee will be meeting with Thurber over the next several months to pray and begin the search for Barnett’s replacement.
–RMCNews; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski