I started my professional life as a software engineer. I initially worked for a start-up specializing in web-based Human Resources and eLearning products for large cap companies. I then moved to a more established company developing web-based public health applications for states, specifically disease surveillance and vaccination tracking. At both companies I demonstrated talent for not only the technical side of the work but also an ability to build relationships with our clients and fellow engineers. I quickly began managing mission critical projects with multi-million-dollar budgets.
As part of this work, I became a first responder to Hurricane Katrina working with the Louisiana Department of Health, our client at the time. I led a team supporting vaccination clinics in multiple evacuation shelters immediately after the storm. This gave me a taste of professional working life outside a traditional office and set in motion the next chapter of my life.
In 2006, I enrolled at Methodist Theological School in Ohio to pursue my Masters of Divinity (MDiv) and ordination in the United Methodist Church. While there, I helped co-found a local chapter of the Beatitudes Society. I was also mentored as a student pastor by Rev. John Edgar of Church for All People. At graduation I was honored to receive the Everett Tilson Award for Social Justice.
In 2010, I became the pastor at Evangelical United Methodist, a struggling church near downtown Billings, MT. I led an effort to revitalize the church centered on being in ministry with our local neighborhood. The most obvious product of this work was the creation of a Free Store where volunteers are encouraged to become clients and clients to become volunteers.
In 2014, I was invited by the bishop to become the Vital Congregations Developer for the Mountain Sky Area. I led the development of an intentional local church revitalization process called Whole Church Initiative (WCI). Over forty churches participated in the WCI process, and it received near universal praise for its helpfulness. I also was responsible for cultivating and nurturing new church starts. During my tenure, the new church start process was formalized with a focus on providing multiple vectors of support to entrepreneurial pastors and groups. Highlights of that work include the founding of Belong Church Denver, Free Spiritual Community, and Prairie Campus of First UMC Colorado Springs.
“We were setting out to do a new thing. We didn’t know exactly what we were holding or where to start. Jeremy came along and said: ‘Do it! The world needs this. And you’re further ahead on this project than you think.’ He provided support, guidance, and he helped us take some big first steps. That was four years ago. Today this is a thriving Spiritual Community for Addicts, Loved Ones of Addicts, and Spiritual Refugees. Our mission is the Break the Silence of Addiction.”
-Ryan Canaday, Pastor & Executive Director of FREE Spiritual Community
As part of my work at this time, in 2016, I became the leader for the team tasked with architecting a new Mountain Sky Annual Conference out of the existing Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conferences. In 2018, the vote to approve the merger passed with over 85% support in each conference.
In 2018, I became the senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of Johnstown in Colorado. Together we navigated the Covid-19 pandemic and came out of it a stronger church with a better focus on disciple-making. Our pandemic experience was a challenge met and overcome that led to growth both numerically and spiritually. Today we are endeavoring to figure out how we use the lessons learned during that time, and our proficiency with digital ministry, to reach new people with the Good News.
In November 2019, I was elected by my community to serve on the Weld RE-5J School board, who then selected me to be Treasurer for the district. Shortly thereafter, the Covid-19 pandemic radically changed the reality of education. We found ourselves in the middle of not only a pedological crisis but, also, a cultural firestorm. I’m proud of the way we conducted ourselves and avoided falling into the trap of the hyperbolic rhetoric of the time. Instead, we kept a laser focus on our students and staff. We kept their safety and holistic health at the center of our work. I was directly involved in defusing many highly emotional situations with parents and community members and led efforts to invite opposing sides into constructive dialogue. Despite all the challenges, in late 2020 we passed the first school bond in our district in almost 20 years and are in the process of completely rebuilding or updating all our buildings. In addition, we have also been able to give the largest pay increase ever to teachers in our district.
In addition to all the above, in 2013 I become a member of the board of trustees for the ailing Camp on the Boulder in south central Montana. Over the course of the next few years, we attempted many initiatives and consultations to find a path back to sustainability for the camp. Ultimately it became clear that we were undercapitalized to make the kinds of changes necessary to be a vital ministry again in that form. In 2018, we suspended normal operations and began looking for alternatives. Today, a large church in Billings owns and operates the camp, locating many of their successful camping ministries there. The proceeds from the sale of the property are being used to build the new Boulder Spirit Foundation, which invests in innovative approaches for disciple making among youth, young adults, and their families. I was the primary leader of the board throughout all these transitions and principal architect of the sale of property and creation of the foundation.