Dr. Blake Bradford
Blake Bradford, an ordained Elder in the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, was appointed by Bishop Gary Mueller as the Chief Mission Strategist and Superintendent of the Central District of the Arkansas Conference of the UMC in July 2018. As an extension of the episcopal office, Blake leads the Central District congregations of the Arkansas Conference to take the next steps to become vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world.
Blake has recently co-authored two books with Kay Kotan. IMPACT! Reclaiming the Call of Lay Ministry was written to encourage and equip lay leaders take ownership of Christ's mission and vision of the congregation as it seeks to engage their neighborhood and community. Mission Possible: A Simple Structure for Missional Effectiveness is designed as a handbook for churches seeking to use the simplified accountable leadership structure often called the “one board model.”
Joining the church as a young adult, Blake was baptized at Highland Valley UMC in Little Rock as a college student. He grew up in Little Rock and attended Hendrix College in Conway (B.A., Religion, 1996). After graduation, Blake studied in England at Oxford University’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He read Medieval and Reformation theology for his first master’s degree at Vanderbilt University (M.A., History of Christian Thought, 1998), with a focus on sacramental theology. Blake then earned his Master of Divinity degree at Iliff School of Theology in Denver (M.Div., 2000). Blake holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in parish leadership from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas (D.Min., 2014), where his doctoral project, “Passing the Mantle,” studied the use of peer groups and continuing education in pastoral formation. After earning his doctorate, Blake continued training with Dr. Craig Gilliam, a nationally recognized expert in facilitating conflict transformation in congregations, communities, and organizations.
Blake has served in churches of different sizes and contexts in Denver, Texarkana, Russellville, and Little Rock. Blake came to the cabinet after serving three years as a coach and congregational consultant for the Arkansas Conference's Center for Vitality. His most recent parish appointment has been as executive pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, a 3500-member congregation where he worked with clergy, staff, and lay leadership to align and coordinate the church’s ministries. Dr. Bradford has served on the executive committee of the Arkansas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry for several years, organized and directed the Residency In Ministry Program for those seeking ordination, serves as the Annual Conference Parliamentarian, and teaches pastoral leadership and administration for the Arkansas Course of Study School. He also previously served on the board of Connected In Christ (a conference-wide congregational vitality ministry), the Arkansas Conference Committee on the Status and Role of Women, and on various District Boards of Ordained Ministry and Superintendency. Blake has been a keynote speaker at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry's Quadrennial Training for Boards of Ordained Ministry and led workshops at the Church of the Resurrection's Leadership Institute. He currently serves on GBHEM's Advisory Panel for Residency In Ministry.
A second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, Blake’s passions include family, the study of history, and martial arts. Blake and his high school sweetheart, Kerri, were married in 1997. An artist and museum educator, Kerri works at the Historic Arkansas Museum. She has also taught in the art departments of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkansas Tech, and Texas A&M Texarkana. They have two teenage children: Bailey and Micah.
Short Biography for Printing & Event Introductions
The Rev. Dr. Blake Bradford is the Chief Mission Strategist and Superintendent of the Central District of the Arkansas Conference, and co-author of the books, IMPACT! Reclaiming the Call of Lay Ministry and Mission Possible: A Simple Structure for Missional Effectiveness. A graduate of Hendrix College, he has masters degrees from Vanderbilt University and Iliff School of Theology, and a Doctor of Ministry from Perkins School of Theology at SMU. Blake has pastored churches of different sizes and contexts, and he has served the Arkansas Conference Center for Vitality as a congregational coach, consultant, and director of the ordination program. He and his wife Kerri, a staff member at the Historic Arkansas Museum, have two teenage children. Blake also holds a second-degree black belt, which he believes may have been his best training for ministry! Learn more and download resources at www.blakebradford.org.
Master of Arts, History of Christian Thought, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (M.A., 1998)
Graduate Student, Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Keble College and Wycliff Hall, Oxford, Great Britain (1998)
Bachelor of Arts, Religion, Hendrix College, Conway, Arkansas (B.A., 1996)
Doctor of Ministry, Parish Leadership, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas (D.Min., 2014).
Master of Divinity, Iliff School of Theology, Denver, Colorado (M.Div., 2000)
Arkansas Conference Cabinet
Chief Mission Strategist and District Superintendent
The Central District
2018 - current
The Center for Vitality
The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church
2015 - 2018
Resourcing vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities, and the world.
St James United Methodist Church
Little Rock, Arkansas
At St. James, a 3500-member congregation, Blake worked with clergy, staff, and lay leadership to align and coordinate the church’s ministries so that St. James could be a vibrant, growing church, changing lives and reshaping futures for Jesus Christ. During his tenure, he led a $5 million capital campaign that involved a new youth wing, remodeled children's area and other facilities, and debt reduction.
ST Paul UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Little Rock, Arkansas
Blake served as the centennial pastor at this multi-staff congregation nestled in the Kingwood neighborhood of Little Rock.
Wesley UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
During Blake's tenure, the congregation entered into a new season of visioning and missional planning, and the church doubled in small groups and worship attendance.
TEXARKANA FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Little Rock, Arkansas
His first appointment following seminary, Blake served this congregation following a fire that destroyed the historic sanctuary. He assisting in leading the staff and lay leadership ministry planning team, and he was part of a building committee that funded and built a new sanctuary.
UNiversity Park UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Student Associate Pastor