Ronald Waterman shares new vision as conference chancellor

Ronald Waterman shares new vision as conference chancellor

Ronald Waterman shares new vision as conference chancellor

Story by Charmaine Robledo, Director of Communications, Mountain Sky Area

A few months after being introduced as the new chancellor at the 2015 Yellowstone Annual Conference, Ronald Waterman has already been tackling several projects, ranging from policy guidelines on reporting abuse to handling church property.

Marking more than 40 years in his legal career, Waterman has been an associate at Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman in Helena, Montana, since 1970. His areas of expertise are business and general litigation and family law. He is retiring from the firm, but will continue to be involved in some capacity.

Waterman said he is "looking to slow things down" so he can devote more time in his new role as chancellor. He has been a member of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Helena since July 1970, serving as a member of the board of trustees and the administrative board. It was a nomination by St. Paul's pastor, Marianne Niesen, and retired pastor, Deb Schmidt, that Waterman came to be the conference's chancellor.

Although nominated "without his knowledge," Waterman nonetheless is flattered by their endorsement and hopes to bring a comprehensive vision to the office of chancellor.

"I'd like to move forward progressively," he said, adding that he hopes to "play a part" in how Yellowstone Conference will continue to minister to the world.

Waterman attests his past experience working in business litigation in helping him prepare for his new role.

"There is a business component of what the church does," he said. "And it has to comply. It has employees and we have to be aware of how we treat them. There is a lawful perspective that we act fairly and appropriately, and consistently."

In his practice, Waterman said he has done a fair amount of pro bono work, helping families receive fair treatment in the justice system.

"It's what our faith calls us to do," he said. "We need to be treated with equality and fairness, and not based on the amount of money we have." Waterman added he has done extensive work in the Montana prison system and has been a strong opponent of the death penalty.

According to the Book of Discipline, Section IX, ¶603.8.: "The annual conference shall designate, a chancellor, and may designate one or more associate chancellors. The chancellor and any associate chancellors must be members in good standing of a local church or an annual conference in the episcopal area, and be licensed to practice law in the episcopal area. ... The chancellor, assisted by the associate chancellors, if any, shall serve as legal advister(s) to the bishop and annual conference."

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