Reverend Dr. Phil Stevenson sensed a pending change and announced at his July 2022 district conference that the next year would be his last. Dr. Stevenson firmly believed the Pacific Southwest District (PSW) needed someone younger to build upon what he had established during his eight-year district superintendency.
Across those eight years, Dr. Stevenson accomplished much for the kingdom. When he initially accepted the PSW call, he did not feel called to administrate a district but to lead a movement. Under Dr. Stevenson’s leadership, PSW embraced the idea. His target congregation has been the lead pastors, who in turn poured into their staff. He also created the Emerging Leaders Network — a district leadership pipeline —which is a year-long leadership development process. Learning nine core competencies that Dr. Stevenson developed, many young leaders that completed the process are serving as church planters, lead pastors or on District Boards of Administration. All are leading strongly and are a living testament to Dr. Stevenson’s legacy of leadership development.
Dr. Stevenson has held many roles throughout his ministry career. He started as an intern at Skyline Wesleyan Church, La Mesa, California, progressed to become a youth pastor, district youth president, assistant pastor, district director over evangelism and growth, general director of evangelism and growth, assistant district superintendent and district superintendent. Regardless of the role, the common threads of leadership development and church multiplication have always been woven into whatever task was at hand.
With Dr. Stevenson’s announcement, a search for PSW’s next district superintendent began. Dr. Stevenson stepped aside to give the district freedom to find their next leader.
The search narrowed to Reverend Mike Skor, who when first approached, immediately called Dr. Stevenson for advice. Rev. Skor recognized the value of Dr. Stevenson’s experience and wisdom: “The last eight years have been some of the most challenging, especially the last three years, and Phil has led so well through it.”
Though he did not seek the role, Rev. Skor believes this is the most strategic decision for the local church. “I’m a local church pastor, that is where my heart is, and I have been blessed by some amazing district superintendents over the years.” Not totally knowing what to expect during this new season and new ministry, his goal is to come alongside the local church and help it as much as possible as he answers God’s call to the district.
Being the district superintendent elect, Rev. Skor acknowledged the strangeness of the process, having to resign his position without knowing how the vote would go at district conference. Rev. Skor was grateful for Dr. Stevenson’s effort to set him up for success. “Phil has been so gracious and has worked so hard to hand off the baton well.” They embarked on a tour across the district so Dr. Stevenson could introduce him to as many pastors and churches as possible.
Dr. Stevenson believes the absolute best of Rev. Skor: “Mike is going to take this movement to another level. He has strengths that I do not have that are needed … It is nice to know that when you are done, the right person at the right time comes along.”
By the time district conference came, Rev. Skor noted that “We walked into the district conference excited for the future.” Both he and Dr. Stevenson had great assurance that this transition was the right step, and the vote affirmed it, 195 to 2. Reflecting, Rev. Skor described the transition as being the easiest one of his 32-year career and gave God credit for clearing every obstacle.
Discerning what role Rev. Skor’s wife, Kiley, an ordained pastor and a high-capacity leader, would fill led to the decision that she will be diving into leadership development, investing in rising leaders. They are excited to partner together to serve PSW.
Despite the leadership change, Rev. Skor desires people to keep their focus on the goal — the 33 million people within the Pacific Southwest District who do not yet know Jesus. Rev. Skor’s prayer is that the number would “break our hearts and push us to think about what we are willing to do and who we are willing to talk to in order to share Jesus.”
Jacob Gibson is the senior pastor at LifeSpring Wesleyan Church, Richmond, Indiana, and graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and Wesley Seminary, Marion, Indiana.