At the 2018 Annual Conference Session, more than 80% of delegates affirmed experimenting with refocusing and realigning our collective ministry for greater impact. If this is the first time you are hearing about it please watch the video, read the infographic and then click anywhere on the infographic to read all about it (PDF). Or learn just a little bit more.
Since the 2018 Annual Conference Session, leaders have continued having conversations with a wide variety of stakeholders to discern what our next steps should be. As of December 2018, more than 450 people have been involved in providing feedback and engaging in conversations regarding one or more aspects of the realignment in the Discipleship Agency areas. The interim boards will be bringing forth recommendations at the 2019 Annual Conference Session.
- The Connectional Table (September 2018) and Discipleship Council (November 2018) have provided input and feedback on the overall structure, demonstrated the lack of clarity about our existing structure and raised some excellent questions. See FAQs.
- The interim Discipleship Boards (Leader Development, New Faith Expressions, Young People's Ministry, Advocacy & Action and Abundant Health) have met twice and have made progress in creating a short-range strategic plan and working on first things first. Almost all five have verified that significant work needs to be done to repair and strengthen our connective tissue which, at the heart of it includes improving communication between local faith communities and the Annual Conference (including staff, agencies, other UMC organizations and congregations, local interfaith and ecumenical partners, etc.). In response to this we will be:
- Launching a Connectional Survey in January 2019;
- Developing a clearer organizational chart of Conference bodies and their lines of authority before doing any more streamlining; and
- Providing opportunities for conversation at Leadership Days across the conference.
- The Young People's Ministry area has made progress on its 2-3 year strategic planning process which started with an initial listening session with 45 people in January of 2018. In May of 2018, a Young People’s Ministry survey was sent to all conference churches, with 157 people participating. In September, 110 people were engaged in six focus groups across our Annual Conference. The results of this process will be shared at Annual Conference Session 2019.
- The realignment and refocusing has enabled us to invest more in local faith community efforts through the first round of Missional Innovation Grants for Young People's Ministry, Advocacy & Action and Abundant Health.
- The realignment and refocusing has resulted in stronger collaborative staff-agency relationships which means that Annual Conference leaders are at the center, not the periphery of critical decision making.
- The realignment and refocusing has allowed us to have more flexibility, nimbleness and visibility with regards to urgent advocacy needs. The United to Love rally is an outstanding example of this.