The Religious Conference Management Association’s longtime leader, Dr. DeWayne Woodring, has announced his retirement as executive director. He will continue to serve as an advisor/consultant through Dec. 31, 2011. The RCMA board unanimously appointed the Rev. Harry Schmidt as the new executive director, effective immediately. Schmidt, who was the vice president of RCMA’s board at the time of his appointment, has served as president of Christian Life College, Mount Prospect, Ill., for nearly two decades.

Melvin Tennant, CAE, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, Official Convention + Visitors Association, replaces Schmidt as board vice president, marking the first time a supplier has held that position within the organization.

Starting with RCMA in 1982, Woodring, who turned 80 last week, has grown the association from a small group of clergy dedicated to enhancing professionalism within the field of religious meetings to an influential organization with a worldwide reach.

"DeWayne has been a loyal servant of the organization and of the meetings industry,” RCMA Board President Melvin Worthington commented. “He has nurtured the phenomenal growth the organization has achieved.” During Woodring’s service as executive director, the number of RCMA members has grown from nearly 100 to more than 2,000.

History of Achievement, Vision for the Future
Active in the wider world of meetings, Woodring was a delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism and chairman of the prestigious Convention Industry Council, composed of 31 key organizations in the hospitality, travel, and meetings industry. He was one of the original founders of its Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification program, which has become the industry’s accreditation standard. In 1994, Woodring received the highest honor in the meetings industry when he was inducted into the Convention Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders for his distinguished contributions to the field.

The Rev. Schmidt, 61, is a leader known and respected within RCMA, and he comes to his new position with a career of service in the ministry and community. An ordained minister since age 22, he serves as a member in the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and as first vice president for the Full Gospel Fellowship, Dallas, Texas.

Schmidt is the founder of Ascension Convention and chairman of the Mission Possible Foundation. He directed the formation of the International Education Fellowship, and he serves on the boards of Commonwealth Christian Ministries and WillGo Ministries.

“The foundation DeWayne built ensures this will be a smooth transition for RCMA,” said Schmidt. “My calling has always been unmistakably in organizational development, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to grow RCMA and nurture these leaders of excellence.”

Schmidt added that the RCMA board’s priorities will be:

  • reaching out to planner and supplier members who have not been active in RCMA,
  • creating more engagement opportunities through new committees and councils,
  • embracing technological advances that will allow RCMA to reach a broader audience, and
  • ensuring a culture of inclusion for all those involved in faith-based event management and sales.

The 2012 RCMA World Conference & Exposition will celebrate the organization’s 40th annual meeting, Woodring’s 30 years with RCMA, his 80th birthday and retirement, as well as the association’s new leadership under Schmidt. The conference will be in Kansas City, Mo., January 24–27.

“This felt like the right time to pass on the mantle of leadership,” said Woodring. “And I know RCMA will continue to thrive under Harry’s leadership for years to come. I look forward to the celebration with all the RCMA members in January.”

The Religious Conference Management Association is a professional, nonprofit, multifaith organization consisting of individuals who are responsible for planning and/or managing meetings, tutorials, conferences, conventions, and assemblies for their religious organizations. Representing more than 800 diverse religious organizations, RCMA members are responsible for planning 14,000 conventions, meetings, assemblies, retreats, and cruises that annually attract more than 11 million participants. For more, visit rcmaweb.org.