“The mission of the Baltimore-Washington Conference is to inspire and equip local faith communities to develop disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world so that more transformed lives transform lives.”
The Discipleship Council, led by the Rev. Jessica Hayden, oversees the vision, mission, and strategic direction of the Baltimore-Washington Conference between Annual Conference Sessions.
This year, the Council’s work centered on creating and reviewing “essential metrics to assess the number of people who are engaged and maturing in Wesleyan Discipleship as well as the impact being made in communities in which our churches and ministries reside.”
All the metrics, Hayden said, were filtered through the lens of Wesleyan discipleship: focusing on acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion. During the pandemic, the ways local churches lived out their discipleship changed in many ways, but the focus on growing in our love of God and neighbor remained strong.
In her report, Hayden lifted-up statistics from the 2019 church conference forms. The council celebrated that “more than one-third of pastors reported concrete congregational engagement in the NEJ Call to Action for Racial Justice, and that 60 percent of the BWC’s congregations practice acts of justice — not just compassionate service — as a part of their communal spiritual disciplines,” she said.
In assessing how well churches are using an intentional discipleship process, Hayden noted that 47 churches are excelling in this area and could serve as teaching congregations, and that 395 of the BWC’s more than 600 churches have either already implemented or are implementing an intentional discipleship process.
At this year’s church conferences, a more extensive discipleship ministries form was used to collect in-depth data on how church members are engaged in Wesleyan discipleship and the congregation’s level of vitality. The information will be analyzed and used to resource congregations and their leaders as they make and nurture disciples.
One of the strategic goals of the BWC is to develop inclusive, diverse, equitable and anti-racist churches. Toward that end, the Discipleship Council developed the Commitment to Becoming an Anti-Racist Church invitation.
“More than 300 disciples and 144 churches and church-related institutions within the BWC have already indicated that they are on the pathway to becoming an anti-racist church,” Hayden said.
She invited those who haven’t decided to sign, to do so, either as individuals or as congregations.
“Your digital signature — along with your church’s name, city, and state — will become a part of this movement to make different choices about how you are participating in the dismantling of racism,” Hayden said. Additional resources to assist in ministries of anti-racism are available for those who sign the commitment.
“Making a commitment to become anti-racist is rooted in our Christian discipleship,” Hayden said. “As we commit to transform our lives, our churches, and our society, we acknowledge we each enter this work in different places. … A pathway toward becoming an anti-racist church is a contextual process that involves meeting people where there are and providing them the resources, grace, and accountability to take the next faithful step toward becoming an anti-racist, both individually and collectively.
See the complete Discipleship Council report, which includes the statistics on discipleship and anti-racism ministries.