December 12, 2023
During its December 6, 2023 meeting, the Georgia United Methodist Foundation Board of Trustees unanimously approved the Search Committee’s recommendation to elect Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Coppedge-Henley as the Foundation’s next President and CEO, effective January 9, 2024. Coppedge-Henley succeeds Rev. Keith E. Lawder, who returned to his prior role as President and CEO on an interim basis following the departure of Mathew A. Pinson. She is also the first female to serve in this role in the Foundation’s 45-year history.
“Although we met several highly qualified candidates, the Search Committee agreed that Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Coppedge-Henley’s unique gifts and experiences make her the right leader for the Foundation,” said Ruth A. Knox, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Search Committee. “She is eager to strengthen the Foundation’s and her existing relationships, build new ones with clergy and laity in Georgia, and extend the Foundation’s ministries to those with whom we hold current or historically common bonds and connections.”
A native of Dalton, Georgia, Coppedge-Henley grew up at Dalton First UMC, where her parents are still members. She and Jonathan, her husband of 29 years, have two children: Owen and Lora. Educated at Presbyterian College, then Duke Divinity School, and later at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Coppedge-Henley has led local churches for 23 years. She also served for five years in two different positions at the United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina – first as Executive Director of the Reynolds Program in Church Leadership and then for three years as the Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer. Coppedge-Henley understands the local church and feels a deep commitment to the Foundation’s and the United Methodist Church’s missions.
Upon her appointment, Coppedge-Henley said, “I believe the Holy Spirit was at work in my acceptance of this position. As an Elder in the Western North Carolina Conference, I have long been committed to the mission of the local church to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
The current and future potential to help churches and other entities fulfill their missions inspires me. The Georgia United Methodist Foundation’s purpose statement, ‘Our Purpose is Your Mission,’ reminds me that a Methodist foundation critically supports and enables hundreds of churches and other conference ministries to fulfill their mission. Our Wesleyan tradition of evangelism and social action, combined with Spirit-led creativity, stands to help the Foundation further the mission of Methodists in Georgia. Indeed, it is a new day in the life of the church!
I am eager to return to Georgia, (re)meet the people, and visit churches to share the gospel and how the Foundation’s ministry can serve them now and in the future.”
Knox expressed her gratitude for Lawder’s numerous contributions during the December 6 board meeting, stating, “We are all grateful to Keith for answering the call to come out of retirement to lead us again in his calm, confident, competent, and compassionate manner through this interim period.”
The Georgia United Methodist Foundation is one of the largest Methodist foundations in the United States, with $236 million in assets. The Foundation partners with churches, nonprofits, individuals, and families to support the mission and ministry of the church by offering advanced faith-based financial solutions for the Methodist family of Georgia. The Foundation elevates and advances the mission of the church and church-related nonprofits by providing faith-based financial solutions for investing, lending, training, and planned giving. Learn more online at gumf.org.