As Ken prepares to end his service as presiding elder, we caught up with him for a short interview.
We know you have been the presiding elder of the brotherhood for eight years now, but what does a presiding elder do?
The presiding elder is the chief governor and pastor of the brotherhood. He makes sure the necessary governmental decisions are made and implemented. He also ensures that all pastoral needs are met and steps in where needed. Disciplinary actions also fall under my purview.
Having said this, we are quite regionalized as a brotherhood, so most of these tasks are delegated the regional elders and their teams. So they make decisions regarding the housing, service and work of all the brothers, about the training and formation of newer men, and they administrate the regional finances. But I lead the International Planning Group which is where accountability happens.
How much travel does your job entail?
Our statutes require me to visit every house at least every other year, but de facto I am in most houses annually. This allows me to meet with all the brothers individually, sit in on regional planning meetings, and touch base with the recruitment teams. Given that we have houses in Europe, Asia, Latin and North America, that makes for plenty of travel.
Are there other offices and responsibilities that come with being the brotherhood’s presiding elder?
The main one is being part of the International Executive Council of the Sword of the Spirit. This body, which meets twice a year, governs the life of the wider movement we are part of. I participate in those meetings, represent the brotherhood, and handle projects and assignments which I pick up in those meetings.
As you look back, what were some of the highpoints of your time as presiding elder?
I am always called on when I see brothers living our life well. I have also been encouraged by the growth in mission in each of our regions, and by the united effort that our brothers are displaying. While recruitment is slow, there is a steady stream of men being attracted to our life, and that is cause for rejoicing.
We of course spend a lot of time and effort on formation, and when you then see individuals responding and showing the fruit of their training, that makes me happy.
Finally I live in a house of older brothers, and it has been very encouraging to see the way these men care for each other in their challenging circumstances, most notably during health crises. Their selflessness, which has often reached beyond the confines of the house, has inspired many.
What were some key projects you accomplished during your tenure?
We had to rearrange our internal administration, both centrally and regionally. This included, among others, the establishment of a communication and development office. We also codified some of our formation practices and took some important decisions on how to bring men into our lives.
We have also begun to consider ways to help our brothers in their three stages of life: formation, middle years and older years. For the last phase, we also established an infirmary at our brotherhood center. And we have begun looking at our recruitment, as society and young people change.
2021 will be mark the 50th anniversary of the brotherhood – any thoughts on that?
Well it is certainly no small thing to reach that age. We should rejoice in the strong foundation that God has laid. We have two generations in the brotherhood, with a third one on the way. I pray that the next 50 years will see future generations take our call to the next level and God accomplishing more through them than he has through us. That will include advancing the mission God has given us.
So I expect our 50th to be a celebration of God’s faithfulness and a time to look toward the future.
What Comes Next for You?
On August 29th I pass the baton on to Dave Quintana, and I am delighted to have such a competent successor. Then I get a three-month sabbatical, and we are still working out what exactly that will entail. After that I will move to the UK, where I will be based and where I will step into Dave Quintana’s current role of Regional Elder for Middle East and Africa. But I will be back in the US for at least two months each year, since I will be leading the Community Building Team of the Sword of the Spirit’s North American Region.