News and Views

Conference approves new structure for discipleship

Posted by Melissa Lauber on

“Transformed lives transform lives,” is the new vision statement that will guide the Baltimore-Washington Conference into this next season of equipping and inspiring churches to make disciples for the transformation of the world.

As the body that ensures that conference resources align with the BWC’s vision, mission and critical issues, the Discipleship Council introduced a restructuring of ministry that was adopted by conference members at their annual session May 31.

The new structure sets up five areas of ministry: developing leaders, launching new faith expressions, entrusting young people, engaging in advocacy and action, and cultivating wellness and missions.

The re-structuring and realignment of people and resources was implemented on a trial basis last year, while feedback was gathered from more than 630 people in a variety of settings.

The new structure, said Discipleship Council Chair, the Rev. Jessica Hayden, “enabled the BWC to invest more in local faith communities through missional innovation grants for Young People’s Ministry, Advocacy and Action and Wellness and Mission.”

It also resulted in stronger collaborations and enabled ministries to have “more flexibility, nimbleness and visibility,” Hayden said. “More boards are functional and engaged in ministry that is focused on grassroots engagement.”

One of the most significant changes comes in the arena of Advocacy and Action. The restructure creates eight social action teams: climate and environmental justice, gender equity, gun violence prevention, immigration reform, racial justice, wealth equity, and LGBTQIA+ concerns. It also creates three annual forums, which will gather leaders from across the conference to discuss and act on matters related to small member churches, ethnic local church concerns, and Christian unity and interreligious relationships. Six committees also fall under the Advocacy and Action umbrella. These committees are in ministry with people with disabilities, the Deaf, Asian-Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans and African Americans.

Hayden is hopeful that these changes will significantly affect local churches by creating mission alignment, deepening discipleship growth, and providing networking opportunities and money for innovation.

Local church members can learn more about these ministry areas at

In other action, the Discipleship Council announced a new partnership between the BWC and Project Transformation D.C.

In this innovation ministry, explained director Rachel Luna, college students invest in the lives of underserved children while living in community, exploring their calling, and developing as servant leaders. Children from low-income neighborhoods improve their literacy, social-emotional, and spiritual development through participating in high-quality, out-of-school time programs led by college-age young adults. And, churches in underserved communities host out-of-school programs, reconnecting and building relationships with their neighbors.

Last summer, 98 children participated in Project Transformation at Hughes Memorial UMC and Brighter Day Ministries. Volunteers clocked in 49,210 minutes of reading with the children and 96 percent of participants improved or maintained their reading level.

Volunteers are currently being sought to work at this summer’s sessions. Learn more at

David-HR UMC Jun 10, 2019 2:15pm

At this point it appears the Conference it taking it's cues from the Democrat National Committee.

Norris Jun 13, 2019 3:04pm

Thank you David - I totally agree with you. The UMC is completely infested with identity politics and political correctness unfortunately. I doubt John Wesley could comprehend what it has morphed into.