Mrs. Phyllis Ware, groundbreaking Chief Financial Officer who served as the only African-American female President of a conference in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and has served as Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer for the Office of Regional Ministries (ORCM) and the Regional Conference Retirement Plan(RCRP) has announced her intention to retire as of September 1, 2021.
Mrs. Lee has served the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the past 38 years She is a native of Kansas City, Missouri and has an undergraduate degree from Notre Dame University and a Masters in Business Administration from DeVry University.
She began her ministry in the Central States Conference on June 1, 1983, as an Accountant in the Administration of Dr. Sherman Cox, who was then the President of Central States. She moved up through the financial hierarchy of Central States until she began the Secretary/Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer of Central States in December, 1988, when she succeeded Elder Leroy B. Hampton upon his acceptance of the call to serve as the Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer of the Northeastern.
The position placed her as the second officer of the conference, making her the first African-American female in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in that position.
When the President of Central States, Elder J. Paul Monk, tragically succumbed to cancer in 1994, Mrs. Lee became the Interim President, making her the first and only African-American female to ever serve in the office of Conference President.
In October of 2008, Mrs. Lee added another first to her distinguished resume-the first full-time Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer for both the ORCM/RCRP-a position that she has held for the past 13 years. In that role, she has helped those organizations to find the resources for groundbreaking initiatives such as the outreach to Africa, the ORCM summer internships and the building of the two-story, 32,000 ORCM/RCRP/BOL (Breath of Life) Office Complex, which will house the major ministry entities of the Regional Conferences.
She led the way to the complex being built without requiring any additional monies from Regional Conferences and which will be completed in January, 2022 , without any external debt-a unique process Mrs. Lee worked on for more than two years.
Approximately seven years ago, Mrs. Lee and her husband, took on another first-the raising of their first child. They adopted their granddaughter, A’zyah, who is currently nine years old. It has been an interesting experience for Mrs. Lee to become a first time parent at the time in life when most people have completed their child rearing days and am enjoying am empty nest. But Mrs. Lee has shown the same dedication to the ministry of parenting that she has demonstrated in the ministry of finance. She has dived right into things such as parent-teacher conferences, remote schooling and Pathfinders. Her co-workers frequently receive emails and texts in the very early hours of the morning as Mrs. Lee tries to juggle all of her responsibilities.
She recently came to the conclusion that her time would be best spent in devotion to her most important ministry-that of a wife and mother. She will spent the time between her formal retirement on September 1 and December 31 of this year providing orientations to her successors (the ORCM and RCRP Boards voted to divide her responsibilities by each entity having their own CFO) and serving as a consultant on various projects prior to going into complete retirement on January 1, 2022.
Though small of stature (she is 5 feet, 1 inch), Mrs. Lee has made a big difference in her groundbreaking ministry these past 38 years. She will be missed.