Wilson-Fey to retire as Oregon-Idaho Treasurer/Benefits officer
For the last six years of a 30-plus year career as an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, Rev. Dan Wilson-Fey has been ministering to the people of the Oregon-Idaho Conference as a steward of their financial resources.
On June 30, 2022, Wilson-Fey will retire as the Oregon-Idaho Conference Treasurer and Benefits Officer – a slight turn in the path he started on 40 years ago toward a career in medicine.
“I feel like I’m called to turn my attention to my family and projects around the house,” said Wilson-Fey, 66.
Rick Beadnell, former chair of the Conference’s Council on Finance and Administration, was part of the committee that hired Wilson-Fey for this position – moving him from Lake Oswego United Methodist Church to the Conference offices in Portland.
Beadnell has marveled at the way Wilson-Fey has approached his job as Conference Treasurer and Benefits Officer, joking that he has taken the line on the job description “other duties as assigned” well.
“There’s hundreds of miscellaneous things we forgot to tell him about in the job description,” Beadnell said. “I think he’s been a really good fit for the kind of things that come up.”
In just six years the kind of things that have come up – to name a few – include a potential split in the denomination and the fiscal implications of such a change, a global pandemic that has re-shaped local church ministries, budget reductions, church closures as well as other conflicts.
“Your plate is totally full and something else comes up,” said Beadnell.
Through it all, though, Wilson-Fey said he’s found joy and purpose in his work for the Conference. He said he likes investigating things and finding answers. Doing behind the scenes work to keep the wheels of ministry running has been fulfilling. He is proud of the nearly error-free audits the Conference has received and appreciates what he learns when there have been corrections to policy and procedure because of such audits.
But he is quick to not take much of the credit.
“I get to work with really excellent staff,” he said. “They’re just really compassionate and experienced and it’s made my job easy.”
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky said she’s grateful for the years Wilson-Fey has spent as the Conference Treasurer and Benefits Officer.
“He has a deep love of the church, that is both visionary and deeply practical. He has managed and stewarded the gifts of generations of faithful United Methodist so that God’s promises can become reality in the lives of people and communities today and into the future,” she said. “But Dan is not all business! He regularly shares tender (and tearful) reports of his newest grand baby, as well as sightings and songs of birds to cabinet gatherings, whether in person, or lately via Zoom. His knowledge, kindness and expertise will be so deeply missed, as we send him into retirement with prayers of gratitude and best wishes for what comes in the next chapter of his life.”
A little more than 40 years ago, Wilson-Fey was a graduate of Willamette University with a degree in biology and environmental science. He wasn’t a “church person” as some might put it.
“I was going to go to medical school,” he said. “I’ve always been curious and liked asking questions.”
However, he took a detour and spent two years in the Peace Corps, where he was drawn to the idea of spiritual and mental healing, not just the physical aspects of medicine. He met missionaries in Honduras who were doing good work and thought “maybe there was something to this church stuff.”
He was working as a surveyor in Corvallis after finishing in the Peace Corps and was determined to check out all the churches in town. His first and only stop was at Corvallis UMC where he joined the choir and a Bible study that allowed his curiosity and call to ministry to flourish.
With a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion, he headed first to Drain and Yoncalla UMCs in southern Oregon with his wife Kathy. It is where their first child was born.
From there they headed to Southside Blvd. UMC in Nampa, Idaho, and in 2001 – while their children were still in elementary school - they headed back to Honduras for what was supposed to be a quick mission trip. Four years later the family returned after both Dan and Kathy spent time as General Board of Global Ministries missionaries in a variety of roles.
He then spent time with Forest Grove, Yamhill and Lake Oswego UMCs before coming to the Conference office. He described the transition to being Conference Treasurer/Benefits Officer as being a steep learning curve or being dropped into the deep end of the pool, but he credits Conference staff with keeping him afloat.
Paul Cosgrove, Oregon-Idaho Conference Chancellor and new chair of CF&A, said he has appreciated working with Wilson-Fey on a number of behind-the-scenes issues that could often go overlooked by others, but have been important.
“Dan has a wonderful combination of attributes and skills: highly organized and detail-oriented, but also caring and empathetic,” Cosgrove said. “He has given great service to the Conference in ways often not seen by many.”
As he sets his sights on retirement, Wilson-Fey acknowledges that the work has become increasingly difficult not just for him, but for everyone working in ministry these days.
“My heart goes out to all of the local churches,” he said. “This is a really, really hard time to be a local church pastor.”
Wilson-Fey is eager to spend time with his grandson, to go bird watching, travel more (when safe) and spend more time working on projects around the home. He knows the Conference, and the Greater Northwest Area, has a lot of work in front of it right now.
“It’s a hard job and I think six years is long enough, though there’s never a right time to leave,” he said.