The Florida United Methodist Foundation has had lawyers, bankers, accountants and pastors leading its volunteer board of directors. Now, a Navy veteran is assuming that role.
Ron Coleman Jr., a longtime member at Calvary United Methodist Church in Orange Park, was elected in June to serve as chairperson of the board, which includes clergy and lay leadership from across the Florida Conference.
Coleman, who says he’s been involved in every possible aspect of service at Calvary since joining the church in the 1970s, draws from a broad background of leadership and organizational expertise.
“Ron has an immense passion for service to communities far and wide — faithful service to our country, local church membership, faithful to the gospel,” said the Rev. Ed New, the foundation’s president. “Plus, he’s involved in several philanthropic organizations. He’s committed to serving and making them stronger.”
Coleman also has professional experience in human resources consulting.
“He understands the heartbeat of an organization and how to make that heart beat more strongly,” New said.
Lifetime of service
For 23 years, Coleman served as a Naval aviator. He deployed for training in San Diego, flew out of the former Naval Air Station Cecil Field near Jacksonville, worked as a flight instructor in Pensacola and finished his military career in Puerto Rico.
“My primary aircraft was the Lockheed S-3 Viking,” Coleman said. “The mission was carrier-based anti-submarine warfare.”
After retiring at the rank of commander, Coleman worked with a local four-year college, volunteering in public relations, before launching a human resources consulting firm in 2000 called Baronco Management Consultants.
“I noticed a lot of consultants were getting good pay, so I opened my own business,” Coleman said.
His instincts and extensive leadership experience led to a busy and successful venture. Today, Coleman is invested primarily in volunteer initiatives.
“My passion is serving as director of Lay Servant Ministries in the North East District (of the Florida Conference), as well as working with the Penney Retirement Community, where I serve on the board as development chair,” Coleman said.
And he has a clear view of his role with the foundation. “The role of the board is to ensure the future existence of the foundation,” he said. “My role as chairperson is to help lead these efforts.”
Coleman said he intends to shepherd the foundation toward a firm strategic vision.
“When we faithfully serve our partners, both inside and outside,” he said, “the stronger the church as a whole will become.”
Coleman initially became a fan of the foundation around 15 years ago when his home church received a loan from the foundation’s Development Fund.
“They were a great group to work with,” he said. “I loved the way the board and the staff worked, and I never lost interest in that community.”
“When we faithfully serve our partners, both inside and outside, the stronger the church as a whole will become.” — Ron Coleman, foundation board chairperson
Since joining the board and serving on the finance committee in 2019, Coleman’s goal has been “to learn all I could about every aspect. Finance was the perfect spot for me, learning how the foundation functions. It has been a great experience.”
One priority, Coleman says, is continuing to develop partnerships with The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. Its outreach agency received a grant from the foundation to provide counseling and therapy to pastors and residents struggling emotionally in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September 2019 and the earthquakes that rocked the island in January 2020.
But first on the agenda is leading the staff and board to develop a micro-strategic plan for the next several years. A five-year strategic plan will follow that work.
“I want the foundation to continue in the same direction because, obviously, it’s a successful way of doing business,” he said. “We exist to serve our clients. The board prioritizes our focus, determines our goals, and strategizes our future goals, locked in and focused.”