Martha Davis scheduled to fully retire in February
Martha Davis, chief operating officer of the General Commission on UM Men, retired January 1 and will stay on staff in an advisory role until mid-February.
Martha began working with the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) on December 12, 1979, as an order entry clerk in the Upper Room Customer Service. She transitioned over time to other roles, including a supervisory role in The Upper Room Customer Service Department. When that department reorganized in 1991, she applied for a newly established position of charter system administrator in the GBOD UM Men Division.
The UM Men Division had purchased a personal computer and contracted with someone to design a customized chartering system. At that time there wasn’t a way to export the information from the GBOD mainframe computer to the new system, so Martha spent the first month entering the names and information about 30,000 men’s groups, secretaries, presidents, and EMS members into the new system.
Transferred to the commission
When the commission was created by the 1996 General Conference, she transferred from GBOD to the new commission and soon became the executive assistant to the general secretary. Since then, the role has changed many times and she will leave the agency as the chief operating officer.
Over the years, Martha was able to learn many different computer programs to help streamline the work of UM Men so the constituents could get the information and materials they needed in a timely manner. She earned many certifications in different areas.
Martha designed customized applications for the financial system, donation systems, awards system, inventory, assets, registration system and helped in the design of the charter system to move it from a MSDOS based system to a Windows-based database.
She represented the commission on the Committee on Personnel and Police and Practices for the general agencies. She also served as the financial representative of the agency and met with the agency treasurers.
The energetic executive also represented the commission on UM Information Technology Association, the UM IT Association, and the Religious Conference Management Association where she became a certified faith-based meeting professional.
Beginning in 1998, Martha planned all the meetings of the National Association of Conference Presidents, UM Men retreats, national gatherings, and board meetings. She also planned activities for wives of the men and special activities for staff and board, including a 1999 trip to Israel.
Martha attended six General Conferences and served three general secretaries and one interim executive.
In the 42 years of working with the church, Martha lived 27 miles away from the offices and put more than 550,000 miles on her vehicles in commuting and going to meetings.
Martha has been married to David, a retired Free Will Baptist pastor, for 43 years. When she began with GBOD, her daughter Charity was seven months old and within the next two years, she gave birth to Brian and Kevin. She is blessed with five grandchildren: Jessica (20), Jonathan (18), Madalynn (17), Garrett (14) and Aleksander (3).
For many years she has enjoyed reading, sewing, crafting, camping and activities with her church and extended family. In the recent years, she has enjoyed many trips and cruises. She is active in her local church and has taught Sunday school, played the piano and is the clerk.
In the last year, she and her brother and sister have been more involved as caregivers for her mom (90) and dad (91).
“I have been working with the UM agencies for 42 years, that’s two thirds of my life, so this staff and previous staff have become a part of my family,” said Martha. “The ministry of UM Men has been impactful and a blessing to me and my family and I will miss it. The men and women I have met through UM Men over the years have become very dear to me and I will miss them. So many of the faithful men have gone on to be with the Lord, but their ministry will not be forgotten. It will be hard to leave after so many years.”
Martha will be missed by all
UM Men across the nation will miss Martha’s steady guidance, detailed planning, and personal care.
Gil Hanke, former chief executive officer of the commission, says he met Martha long before the 1996 creation of the commission when he attended meetings of the National Association of Conference Presidents as the president of the Texas Conference UM Men. “When the commission began to take shape, she was in the middle of this vital work; and today, that is still the case.”
Gil says he asked her hundreds of questions over the years. “She has either known the answer immediately, or she knew where or who had the answer. She has been the quiet leader and guide for all of us who have served as staff or volunteer positions in men’s and/or scouting ministry. She is a person of great faith and of many skills.”