When considering how to restructure the Baltimore-Washington Conference for more vitality, more than a thousand clergy and laity made it clear. They were seeking a configuration that created increased relationships, collaboration, innovation, discipleship, and connection.

The new plan is intended to offer just that. 

While the details of the plan are nuanced, in a nutshell:

  • Five to 12 local churches are grouped in a Collaborative Hub in a shared, geographically-based mission field. Each hub will have a designated Connecting Church, to facilitate collaborative work and vitality.
  • A group of hubs are organized in one of six non-geographic districts, based on population density. This creates opportunities to network across perceived boundaries and learn from one another in diverse, and yet similar, contexts.
  • The hubs and districts are organized into two administrative regions.

On March 19, members fo the conference participated in a town hall about the restructuring. A video of the presentation portion is below. Questions asked at the online meeting are answered in an FAQ.

The plan was formed with the following list of requirements (which emerged from the survey and reinforced by listening sessions) in mind:

  • Keep making world-transforming disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world the main thing and minimize the rest.
  • More collaboration and connection; smaller groups of churches and leaders working together as one. “A cluster of congregations in a shared mission field” was the most commonly selected answer (41%) when people were asked what they thought was the best way to make and grow world-transforming disciples.
  • Explore new ways for DSs and others to support/guide/encourage local churches and honor our connectionalism to advance the mission and ministry of Jesus.
  • While smaller districts were the clear preference of respondents (77%), there was acknowledgement that we’d need to get creative about how we supported churches and met the other aspects of district superintending.
  • Reclaim our zeal for bold, community-focused ministry – both evangelism and social justice were named as key focal points.
  • A more nimble and responsive structure and more porous boundaries so local churches feel the support and permission to collaborate across district lines.
  • Clear and frequent communication with feedback loops so that all understand expectations, opportunities, roles and the benefits of being a United Methodist.
  • Diversity is a value. Many want the restructuring to help us live into the gifts of our diversity.
  • A reasonable span of care for DSs and other staff who resource churches. Potentially separating administrative aspects of the DS role from mission strategy work.

The full plan for restructuring will be available in late April.