Last October, a team from GCFA’s Shared Services and IT departments traveled to Africa University (AU) for a week to perform an IT assessment and look for ways to strengthen the Church’s global ministries. This was all in response to contacts and conversations during the 2016 General Conference. The power of connection! AU wanted us to work together on their technology and see how we might be able to collaborate to improve the work done at AU.
Working with AU is an opportunity to bring cost savings and efficiencies to others throughout the connection, regardless of their location. We are continually looking for solutions that will serve our church wherever we are or are planning to be. For example, this year, GCFA will employ a Shared Services Manager to focus on the Central Conferences. The position will be based on the African continent. We are listening to the desires of our church and delegates from the central conferences and are implementing an out-of-the-box approach to seek global solutions.
Competing on a Global Stage
AU is looking to modernize its technology in ways that will help students succeed and show that AU can compete with other schools on the global stage. For GCFA, this is an opportunity to focus on the work within our connection in the central conferences. We are focusing our efforts in the 2016 quadrennium on ensuring that our work and actions are serving the global church.
During the visit, we met with many wonderful people at the university. We interacted with the faculty, the students, the Vice Chancellor, and all of his staff. We spent the most time with Richard Fotsin, the Director of Information Communications Technology and his team. We learned a lot about how things work in Africa and much about the culture and plans for the future.
In addition to the Africa University staff, the GCFA staff included Michael Dunn, Network Engineer, and Stephen Pace, Data Center Engineer, Dale Owens, Application Development Manager, Derek Preston, Director of IT Infrastructure, and Shannon Lavrin, Senior Shared Services Manager.
The thing we love most about Africa, and Zimbabwe and AU specifically, are the people. John Calipari, University of Kentucky’s basketball coach, was recently stated that all of his success comes down to one thing – relationships. For him, he said, nothing is more important. We believe that the relationships we have and will continue to build through this partnership, speak to the power of the UMC’s connection.