About the Director of Connectional Ministries

Reverend Dr. Denise Smartt Sears

Reverend Dr. Denise Smartt SearsReverend Dr. Denise Smartt Sears was appointed to serve as Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) for the New York Annual Conference (NYAC) of the United Methodist Church, effective July 1, 2021. 

Rev. Dr. Searsthe first Black woman to be named DCM in the Conference’s historyis uniquely qualified for the road ahead as a leader who comes to the position with a wealth of understanding of the NYAC across all levels.

In her previous appointment, as Superintendent of the Metropolitan District, she provided forward-thinking leadership, strategic direction and spiritual formation for the 54 diverse churches located in Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Westchester County.

As the missional strategist for one of the most culturally, racially and economically diverse districts within the Conference, Rev. Dr. Sears fulfilled her calling by building bridges with clergy and laity.

Among other things, Rev. Dr. Sears:

  • Functioned as an extension of the Office of the Bishop by overseeing the ministries of clergy and laity in the Metropolitan District.
  • Engaged with and regularly visited local churches to foster relationships with clergy for pastoral guidance, personnel, administrative, and identification of leadership needs.
  • Established and grew ministries that connected the church to the community.
  • Offered creative insight on best use of resources to areas where the Holy Spirit is active, vibrant, and driving innovation to challenge the status quo.
  • Served as a missional strategist, partnering with clergy to cast a vision for the Metropolitan District churches that encourages discipleship, community-focused engagement, strategically impactful outreach, and bridge-building.

Rev. Dr. Sears also serves as a Chaplain for the New Rochelle Police Department; was elected to sit on the Board of Trustees of the New York- Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital; and is Chairperson of the NYAC Pathway to Anti-Racism team, which is furthering the goal of building intentional approaches to dismantle systems, structures and behaviors that foster systemic racism within our local churches. 

Rev. Dr. Sears’ longstanding missional pursuit seeks to unite people from divergent racial, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds to lead them into spirit-led, thoughtful, open, inclusive, and faith-filled relationships with Jesus Christ.  In pursuit of this mission, she has:

  • Served as a Lead Pastor for more than two decades and spearheaded the effort that successfully united two congregations to the New Rochelle United Methodist Church.
  • Led various initiatives as a clergy coach, and a congregational growth facilitator.
  • Launched the pilot for the New York Annual Conference’s “Eight-Year Assessment Tool” that was rolled out to some 300 clergy within the Conference.
  • Sought and received Commission on Race and Religion grants that address cultural inclusion within the United Methodist Church.
  • Authored the 2019 United Methodist Women Spiritual Growth Leader’s and Participant’s Guide.

Rev. Dr. Sears is a graduate of Dillard University in  New Orleans, Louisiana where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science. She earned a Master of Science degree from New York’s Bank Street College of Education, and was awarded a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Congregational Growth and Development from Drew University.

Rev. Dr. Sears and her husband, Wendell T. Sears are the proud parents of two sons, Daniel and William. In her "spare" time, she enjoys family focused activities, community outreach within Westchester County, local politics, and travel.