As Glenn Burris Jr. wraps up two terms as president of The Foursquare Church, he leaves with appreciation for the opportunity to serve the church that has always been part of his life.
The outgoing president credits God’s presence, the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace that comes with the mantle of the office for enabling him to fulfill his responsibilities.
“With that mantle comes extraordinary grace, anointing, insight and discernment,” says Glenn, who guided the church through the significant realignment known as Reimagine Foursquare. “The first thing I’ve observed is God’s help. Secondly, I have been surrounded by some gifted and committed people. I tried to lead so that, at the end of the day, nothing depended on me.”
Incoming President Randy Remington says his predecessor has led with a steady hand and a vision for the future. Randy notes that leadership includes enduring a lot of “silent deaths,” isolation and unjust criticisms, yet Glenn modeled how to face such challenges with integrity.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but Glenn was paving the way for the next leader in operating from a foundation of restored trust,” says Randy, who takes office Sept. 1. “That has become a gift to me that I not only treasure with gratitude, but that I will humbly steward into the future.”
Glenn says he and his wife, Debbie, feel incredibly blessed for the prayer and other support they received during his tenure, which began in 2009 with a year as interim president. As they retire in Georgia, the Burrises plan to spend more time with their four grandchildren. Glenn plans to also write, read, golf and serve Jesus wherever He leads.
“The first thing I’ve observed is God’s help. Secondly, I have been surrounded by some gifted and committed people. I tried to lead so that, at the end of the day, nothing depended on me.”
—Glenn Burris Jr.
In addition to Reimagine Foursquare, which focused more attention on the Great Commission, Glenn helped strengthen the church’s financial condition. Early in his presidency, many pastors and leaders expressed concerns about finances in the aftermath of the 2008 Great Recession. Glenn committed to fixing the problem by requiring the church to live within its means. Today, Foursquare’s investment portfolio has increased by $100 million the past decade, even as the church gave away $100 million.
“That’s pretty remarkable,” Glenn reflects. “That’s something I’m proudest of. We established discipline and guidelines and more accountability at the board level, and received commitments from the executive team to live within their budgets.”
A longtime pastor, district supervisor and the general supervisor prior to accepting the nod for president, Glenn jokes that since he came to a parsonage right after his birth, he’s been Foursquare longer than he has been a Christian. The son of the late Glenn C. Burris Sr. and Garnette Burris, he was born in Columbus, Ga., and accepted Jesus as Savior at age 6 at the church his father pastored in Rock Hill, S.C. Four years later, Glenn Jr. was baptized with the Holy Spirit.
After high school, he enrolled at Foursquare’s Mt. Vernon Bible College. During his time there, he met and married Debbie; after graduation they returned to his home church in Concord, N.C. Following one year as youth pastor, they moved to Macon, Ga., for Glenn’s first pastorate.
Three years later, Glenn accepted a call from a Foursquare church in Cornelius, N.C. During his 12 years as pastor, attendance increased from 70 to more than 500. He also served as divisional superintendent and was elected to the Foursquare cabinet.
In 1992, Glenn accepted the position of district supervisor for the Southeast District. After a decade, he relocated to California to become general supervisor of The Foursquare Church and a member of the board of directors. In 2006, the church bestowed an honorary doctorate on Glenn.
Another landmark accomplishment came when the Global Council came together for the Global Summit in 2012 for the first time in 25 years. That meeting resulted in six Global Distinctives that offer core doctrines and principles for leaders of 85,000 churches in more than 150 nations. In 2017, Glenn turned over leadership of the Global Council to Leslie Keegel, Foursquare’s national leader in Sri Lanka. It marked the first time the council has been led by someone outside the U.S.
As he departs, Glenn offers a word to Foursquare pastors and members—minister in the spirit of Micah 6:8.
“When you look over history, oppression is the tool of the enemy,” Glenn says. “But when justice reigns, the favor and grace of God move in. Love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly before God. If you do that, God will be honored and pleased.”
Foursquare officers and district supervisors offer these words of appreciation for Glenn:
Tammy Dunahoo, V.P. of U.S. operations: “We experienced many wonderful days and faced some really difficult days in our lives and leadership. He was always invested in my family’s care and my personal growth, and related to me as brother to sister. He believed in me and was a constant encourager. His leadership is marked by humility and grace.”
Ted Vail, V.P. of global operations and director of FMI: “Glenn made leadership personable. He is genuine, generous and inviting. We traveled together and ministered on every continent. Glenn’s as adventurous as the moment requires, especially if there are kids around. He’s truly a happy person who loves people of all nations.”
Adam Davidson, COO and corporate secretary: “As I reflect on Glenn’s presidency, I am reminded of his exceptional leadership. Glenn has poured his life into me and countless others, depositing nuggets of wisdom concerning God, the power of the Holy Spirit, family, ministry and what it means to be a leader.”
Ron Thigpenn, CFO: “I want to thank Glenn for always being sensitive to the needs of those of us serving with him. He places a high value on family and personal self-care. That has been incredibly important to me as I have dealt with numerous personal issues over the years. Glenn has always been supportive and given me the time and flexibility I have needed.”
Gabe Barreiro, supervisor, North Pacific District: “Glenn was a synergistic and servant-leader, humble and approachable. He was deeply committed to seeing The Foursquare Church prepared and positioned for future engagement with the world. He challenged us to innovate for the sake of the harvest. He led by example by enfranchising the next generations, women and minority leaders.”
Peter Bonanno, supervisor, Northeast Atlantic District: “Glenn made us feel safe and brought about the kind of change that secured our future while believing in every individual, trusting decisions to local pastors, and pushing forth a spirit of collaboration and connection. The thing I’ll most value is the friendship that Glenn showed to me. He is leaving a legacy as he helped forge a future of faith for us all.”
Fernando Castillo, supervisor, Pacific Southwest District: “Glenn had the ability to prioritize unity within our movement. He demonstrated patience, graciousness to deal with difficult issues and a commitment to empower the local church. I will remember his humility to address his own shortcomings and unintended mistakes. Privately and publicly, he taught me how to humble myself.”
Bill Chaney, supervisor, Central Pacific District: “Glenn is the most collaborative leader I have known. He always seeks the best way forward. I will most remember the constant encouragement Glenn offered me. I thank him for being open to change, initiating change, and inviting others to help bring about healthy change.”
Dennis Easter, supervisor, Southern California District: “If you look up the word ‘encourager’ in the dictionary, you will find Glenn’s picture. He has an unyielding belief in the goodness and potential of the person in front of him. I thank him for believing the best about others, to always be present for the one, and being not just a servant-leader, but a sacrificial leader.”
Bill Gross, supervisor, Southeast District: “Glenn and I started at the same time in the Southeast District, him as the new supervisor and me as a church planter. Though new to the South, he made me feel like family—inviting me into discussions, trainings, prayer times and fellowship. Twenty-eight years later, the imprint of his leadership is still felt.”
Dan Mundt, supervisor, Heartland District: “Glenn had such a high level of integrity toward the mission. And, care and compassion for the people. He keeps his word, does what he says, and makes each person feel valued and important. I thank him for leading with his heart, working hard, and for elevating the local church to an empowered position in Foursquare.”
Wendy Nolasco, supervisor, MidSouth District: “Glenn led with integrity of heart and skillfulness of hand. He saw a future that had not been created and pioneered a pathway forward while building a culture of trust. He removed barriers for mission and kingdom expansion to continue forward. He is a courageous leader and thoughtful pastor.” (Wendy will become general supervisor of The Foursquare Church on Sept. 1.)
Sam Rockwell, supervisor, Gateway District: “Glenn created an atmosphere of ‘us.’ This collective spirit of communion and mutual respect permeated The Foursquare Church. Glenn didn’t need to be the hero, fixer or expert. He usually knew the right direction to go, but he patiently waited until everyone was ready to go before he set sail. And then he did that with full confidence.”
Juan Vallejo, supervisor, Southwestern Hispanic District: “I thank Pastor Glenn for being an exemplary leader worthy of following. Graciela and I recall meeting him at an FMI training in Jamaica in 1993. From that moment until now, he served as a role model. God has used him and Debbie to shape areas of our lives, for which we will forever be grateful.”
Dave Veach, supervisor, Northwest District: “What I’ll remember about Glenn as a person is how he treated others—he treated the ‘big people’ and the ‘little people’ the same. I’ve learned so much about leadership by just watching his humility, ability to listen, to hear people out, and then at the end of the process be decisive.”
Huey Hudson, board chairperson (senior pastor of Restoration Church in Madison, Ala.): “The thing I will remember most about Glenn’s time as president is that he was not afraid to tackle difficult issues, lead us to places most would not have gone to on their own, and lead us to places we may not have gone to as a movement. I will also remember him as someone who knew when it was time to pastor, when to lead, and when to be a friend.”
Aly Salz, board co-chair: “Glenn models intentional listening. His ability to synthesize and reflect back what he has heard is extraordinary. It shows that he really cares more about learning and growing in his understanding than in forwarding unilaterally his own ideas. I also love how Glenn has cared both for individuals and the larger Foursquare family.”