June / July 2017 - Vol. 92

Dave and Jane Hughes
Dave and Jane Hughes hiking in Zion National Park in Utah, USA.
Building Communities of Fraternal Care, Service, and Mission
An Interview with Dave Hughes
Sword of the Spirit North American Region President

Dave Hughes began serving as regional president in October 2016.
In this interview, Dave lays out his vision and priorities for the region.

For the benefit of those who don’t know you well, tell us a little bit about yourself.

First, let me tell you about my family. My wife Jane and I have been married for 35 years. Jane is a wonderful wife and support for me and whenever we can, we try to serve together. We have five children, four of whom are now married and have produced nine wonderful grandchildren. Family is a great joy for us and we look forward to spending time with all our family.

Both Jane and I got involved in the charismatic renewal and covenant community in the 1970’s and have been active ever since. I have been involved in leadership in various capacities since the 1990’s. Most recently I served as the Senior Coordinator for Word of Life in Ann Arbor. I have also filled various service roles in our region and internationally in the Sword of the Spirit for the past ten years or so.

Jane and I are members of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. We find a great fit between Reformed theology, the working of the Holy Spirit, and living out covenant commitments with believers from many traditions. We are confirmed ecumenists!

I am an engineer by training and recently retired from an executive level position at General Motors in order to serve the Lord in a more full-time, volunteer capacity. I also tend to accumulate hobbies—we have a large garden and orchard, I raise bees, love to sail, golf poorly, etc.

Question:What does a Regional President do?

Answer: That is a good question and on one level I’m still discovering the role. Simply stated, the role of regional president is to ensure that the region moves forward in unity, finding effective ways for the communities in the region to support one another as well as to support and further our common outreaches — things like our regional youth work, Kairos, and building new communities. We have a pretty collegial working structure in the Sword of the Spirit so most of the role involves leading a collegial, team approach to what we do. We have various councils and committees to get this all to work well, so a lot of what I do is to make sure this all works together peacefully and in unity. I get to work with some great brothers and sisters.

Question:What is your sense for what the Lord is doing among us and in our Region of the Sword of the Spirit?

To begin with we need to see that God is always doing a lot and we are always in the position of trying to discern what he is already doing. We need to then go do that too. We are meant to follow in mission, not lead.

Having said that, I think we live in interesting times. We live in a season of mission and open doors. Yes, times are dark but that is a good time to be a light. I see a lot of opportunity for mission and clearly that is something the Lord is always doing. The Lord is always on mission and we need to be as well.

At the same time, a core part of our call and charism is to find effective ways to love and support one another in our modern setting. We never outgrow our need to attend to the basics of loving one another. As a senior coordinator I learned that in any body of believers at any given time there will always be some who are hurting, who need special care, who are in a season of trial. We need always to be ready to walk alongside and pastor these brothers and sisters in our midst.

I often picture the scene from Nehemiah of the workers with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. They are doing two things at the same time. I picture that for us as well: we do mission (the sword) and we build our common life (the trowel). And there’s no inherent conflict in these two things — we can do both things well and in harmony.

Question: What priorities do you see for the region?

Answer: It’s dangerous to ask an engineer that question—I always have a long list of priorities. At our most recent council meeting last October we looked at a set of new initiatives and then did a prioritizing exercise to sort out what we collectively thought were the right next steps. A couple of things came out of that exercise. Generally they fit into 2 ‘buckets’—things we can do to improve our support for local communities and things we can do for mission.

In the first bucket, supporting local communities, we want to try some new ways to foster communication and sharing amongst leaders on critical topics facing all of us. We have some ideas on how to do this in a low resource way via video conferencing between leaders to avoid the cost and time of travel. We also are looking to strengthen and improve some of the existing ways we support one another — things like visitations and the outside coordinator role.

In the mission bucket, we have some exciting efforts underway to strengthen and expand our work by building new communities in places where we have university outreaches.There are some promising efforts already well underway—places like Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Columbus, Tallahassee—and we think the Lord has much more labor for us in these fields. So we have a team working on this. We are also looking at some new ideas for developing and distributing our worship music as a form of mission. I’m personally pretty excited about this opportunity and we are gathering ideas and interest from many young people around the region on how best to do it.

Of course, these are just some of the new initiatives. There is also all the excellent work being done by our existing outreaches and teams—for example the community building team in our region involves dozens of men and women leaders, working with 21 communities in various cities.

Kairos continues to do a great job of serving our youth. University Christian Outreach (UCO), St.Paul’s Outreach (SPO) and the Brotherhood of Hope (BOH) are all doing great work on college campuses and expanding their impact.

I am optimistic that the Lord has much for us to do—to do more of what we are already doing and add some new things. All of it of course needs to be discerned and submitted to the Lord’s direction.

So, a lot of priorities…

Question: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer: I ask for our communities to please pray for the leaders in the region. They all work very hard and we need to appreciate their service. Pray for the brothers and sisters who serve us in the regional office. Pray for wisdom for me as well. Finally, let’s pray that the Lord would send us all out into the harvest. Let us go do mission and may God be with us.

[This article was first published in the Sword of the Spirit North American Region (NAR) Newsletter, April Issue, 2017. See NAR website and Newsletter archive.]
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