Rev. Dr. Blake Bradford

Bishop Gary Mueller has announced the appointment of Dr. Blake Bradford, assistant director for the Center for Vitality, as the new Superintendent and Chief Mission Strategist of the Central District beginning July 1, 2018. Dr. Bradford follows Rev. Richard Lancaster, who is retiring after having served for the last four years.

“I feel honored and humbled by Bishop Muller’s invitation to serve as a member of his cabinet, an amazing group of spiritual leaders,” said Dr. Bradford. “It is especially exciting to be welcomed to the team when Arkansas is leading the way in reimagining the ministry of the district superintendent as chief missional strategist.  I look forward with joy to serving alongside the clergy and laity of the Central District as we, together, create vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world.”

Bishop Mueller said of Bradford, “Blake has a passion for vital congregations and the gift of being able to think strategically with churches so they are better able to live out our trajectory of creating vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world. He has a pastor’s heart, a heart on fire and the desire to touch lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am excited that Blake will be part of the leadership of the Arkansas Annual Conference.”

Blake and his high school sweetheart, Kerri, have two teenage children: Bailey and Micah.  An artist and museum educator, Kerri is an adjunct instructor in the art department of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Bradford has served in churches of different sizes and contexts in Denver, Texarkana, Russellville, and Little Rock, as an associate, solo, and senior pastor. His most recent parish appointment has been as executive pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, a 3500-member congregation, where he worked alongside lay leadership, staff, and fellow clergy to align and coordinate the church’s ministries.

Joining the church as a young adult, Blake was baptized at Highland Valley UMC in Little Rock as a college student. He grew up in Little Rock and attended Hendrix College in Conway (B.A., Religion, 1996). After graduation, Blake studied in England at Oxford University’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He read Medieval and Reformation theology for his first master’s degree at Vanderbilt University (M.A., History of Christian Thought, 1998), with a focus on sacramental theology.  Blake then earned his Master of Divinity degree at Iliff School of Theology in Denver (M.Div., 2000). Blake holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in parish leadership from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas (D.Min., 2014), where his doctoral project, “Passing the Mantle,” studied the use of peer groups and continuing education in pastoral formation. 

Dr. Bradford has served on the executive committee of the Arkansas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for several years, organized and directs the Residency in Ministry Program for those seeking ordination, serves the bishop as the Annual Conference Parliamentarian, and teaches pastoral leadership and administration for the Arkansas Course of Study School. He also has served on the board of Connected in Christ, the Arkansas Conference Committee on the Status and Role of Women, and on various District Boards of Ordained Ministry and Superintendency. Blake has been a keynote speaker at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Quadrennial Training for Boards of Ordained Ministry and presented at the Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Institute.  He currently serves on GBHEM’s Advisory Panel for Residency in Ministry. Blake also holds a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, which he believes has been his best training for ministry!