Bruce Rhodes, Conference Superintendent

Bruce Rhodes, Conference Superintendent

Bruce is a graduate of Spring Arbor College where he met his sweetheart, Jerilynn. After graduation in 1982, they were married and moved to Wilmore Kentucky to enroll in Asbury Theological Seminary. After earning his M.Div. Bruce began serving in Southern Michigan Conference churches in 1985. He served on staff at Chelsea and in the lead role at Garden City/Warren Road Light and Life, Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti before being elected to the office of Conference Superintendent in 2014.

Bruce and Jerilynn have three children: Dan, married to Brianna; Rebecca, married to Jonathan; and Joshua, married to Maggie. They have two grandchildren, Wyatt and Olivia, who are the most wonderful children in the world! Together, the Rhodes also enjoy outdoor recreation including camping, fishing, and hunting.


Michael Forney, Assistant Superintendent of Leadership & Multiplication

Michael Forney, Assistant Superintendent of Leadership & Multiplication

Michael graduated in 1993 from Washington’s Northwest University with a degree in Pastoral Ministries. While in college, Michael married his childhood sweetheart, Nancy. Michael served in staff roles and as lead pastor in the Assemblies of God Northwest Ministry Network and in Colorado. He has worked as an executive in turnaround and early stage companies. Michael founded Gravitational Leadership, a company devoted to coaching and training pastors and churches.  He has been coaching pastors and consulting with churches for over 12 years around issues of turnaround, governance, succession, organizational development and mission. Michael joined the Conference team in 2016 and oversees the leadership development and multiplication initiatives.   

Michael and Nancy have four children: Loree, soon to be married to Cyril; Ashley, married to Dustin; Natalie, and Rachel. They have a grandson on the way! The Forneys enjoy reading, traveling, camping, hiking, and dark roast coffee.


Brian Kono, Conference Coordinator of Ministerial Credentialing and Development

Brian Kono, Conference Coordinator of Ministerial Credentialing and Development

Brian Kono is an Associate Professor of Ministry at Spring Arbor University and an ordained elder of the Free Methodist Church.  Beyond his teaching, he works with FM students to coach them through the ordination process, and recruits among the students who do not have a home denomination.  Before coming to SAU in 2004, Brian served the Southern Michigan Conference at Westland Free Methodist Church as Youth Pastor.  During the last 2 decades, he served at the Wilmore FMC, was the General Director of the International Youth Conference (now FMYC), represented the Free Methodist Church as consultant for curriculum at Word Action Press, and worked as the Assistant Director of the John Wesley Seminary Foundation at Asbury Theological Seminary.  He received his BA at Judson College, M.Div from Asbury Theological Seminary, and PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  

Brian and his wife, Angel, live in Spring Arbor and their four children live throughout Michigan:  Jared and wife, Katie, in Jackson; Benjamin with wife Kate and son Josiah in Dearborn; and two daughters, Abby and Rachel in Grand Rapids.


Mark Dowley, Conference Business Administrator

Mark DowleyConference Business Administrator

Mark graduated from Spring Arbor College with a business degree in 1982.  While in college he met his future bride, Diane and they were married in 1985.  They have two children, Alex and Hannah.  Mark worked in the family manufacturing business eventually purchasing it.  In 2001 the company was sold.  Mark then spent some years involved in real estate investing and development, web site and e-business development, volunteering at his local church and community as well as spending time with his family.  He was asked to join the Conference team in 2008, and enjoys working with pastors and lay leaders from the Conference churches.

Hobbies include, magic tricks (slight of hand), travel, sports, family time, and work.


Betty Walrath, Conference Administrative Assistant

Betty Walrath, Conference Administrative Assistant

Betty and her husband, Brian, both attended Aldersgate, the Free Methodist Bible College in their home province of Saskatchewan.  In 1972 as a newly married couple they came to Spring Arbor College where they both finished up their B.A. degrees in 1974. Shortly after their return to Canada, Betty became a full-time Mom, eventually welcoming four children into the Walrath family.  In 1992 the family moved back to the USA for Brian to teach at Spring Arbor College/University.  Betty had opportunity at that time to upgrade her clerical skills by taking several classes at SAU.  Betty began her work for the Conference in 2008. 

Brian & Betty enjoy trips to Minneapolis, Chicago and Ann Arbor to visit their grown children, and still get back regularly to the Canadian prairies to visit extended family.  While at home in Spring Arbor Betty enjoys attending concerts & recitals at SAU with her professor husband, as well as participating herself in the church choir.


Chris DeBacker, Plan Giving Rep

Chris DeBacker, Plan Giving Rep

Chris DeBacker serves the central region as Regional Vice President. He also assists Central Christian College of Kansas, Deaconess Home Pregnancy & Adoption Services, Greenville College, Life Line Homes, Olive Branch Mission, Spring Arbor University and Woodstock Christian Life Services.

Prior to his position with the Foundation, Chris was an investment specialist with a bank in southern Michigan where he provided comprehensive financial planning and investment services. He also worked as a field director specializing in insurance and investment planning for individuals and businesses, as well as managing and developing new agents. Chris has additional employment experience as a sales representative.

Chris is a graduate of Spring Arbor University. He has earned the designations of Certified Life Underwriter (CLU),  Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Certified Gift Planning Associate (CGPA).