General Secretary, Global Ministries and UMCOR
Roland Fernandes became the General Secretary (chief executive) of Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) on September 1, 2020, having filled key leadership roles in the organizations since 1995. He was both chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Global Ministries/UMCOR from 2003 and has several times served as interim general secretary. As general secretary, he oversees programs, projects and partners in 120 countries, including 350 missionaries in 70 countries. UMCOR is the church’s relief and development organization.
A layman who grew up in Kolkata, India, Fernandes understands mission as “the heart of the church’s work” and sees Global Ministries “as uniquely prepared to further God’s mission on behalf of the whole world…”
His leadership style is marked by a spirit of operational collaboration. He has been deeply engaged in identifying ways the church can best use its resources through combined administrative and programming efforts. This has involved close work with the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), WesPath Benefits and Investments (formerly the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits), United Methodist Communications and the Texas Methodist Foundation.
In 2016, he oversaw the move of Global Ministries to Atlanta from New York City as part of an agencywide review that led to decreased operating costs, more effective service delivery models and the establishment of regional offices around the world.
Among his personally rewarding involvements has been the creation of the UMCOR Armenia Foundation that flourishes today in service to a very vulnerable population from income generated through AREGAK, a microcredit organization founded by UMCOR. Fernandes was also a founding trustee of “Prayatna” (meaning “Endeavor”), a society in Mumbai, India, that works with poor and disadvantaged women and children. He is a board member and treasurer of Church World Service, the U.S. ecumenical relief agency, and is active in Illuman, a nonprofit agency committed to supporting men who seek to transform their lives, founded by Father Richard Rohr, the Franciscan spiritual writer.
Fernandes attended St. Xavier’s College and School in Kolkata and Calcutta University. Following graduation with a Master of Commerce degree, he became a Chartered Accountant (CPA equivalent) and served first as chief internal auditor of the Methodist Church in India (MCI). Fernandes and his wife, Liesl, are members of North Decatur United Methodist Church in suburban Atlanta, where he serves as finance chair