Restructuring FAQ


In brief, what is the new BWC restructuring plan?
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. 
  • The hubs and districts are organized into two administrative regions.

Why is the overall plan being presented if the conference will just be voting on the number of districts? What if I have an idea to share about an aspect of the plan?
The overall plan has been built on deep listening and input from members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. The plan recasts a vision of how we might better work together to develop disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Members from the Discipleship Council and Connectional Table–which are composed of an equal number of lay and clergy from across the conference–selected a plan to be brought before the Annual Conference after much lively discussion. Since the plan is a departure from our current district structure, the full plan is needed to understand how moving from 8 districts to 6 districts with Connectional Hubs and Resource Coordinators provides more connection and support, not less. 

While the Book of Discipline requires a vote when an Annual Conference changes the number of districts, we will keep listening and collaborating as the plan is being implemented. This is one reason why it will take at least a year to implement.

Vitality and Measurement

How do you define church vitality in this context?
Church vitality is not about the number of members nor worshippers but the intensity of a church’s love for God and neighbor. 12 people can change the world! Vital churches see and value all people, deepen discipleship, live and love like Jesus, and multiply their missional impact. Churches who deepen discipleship mature people in five practices: inclusive witness, compassionate service, persistent justice, wholehearted worship, and mindful devotion. Maturity in faith has nothing to do with age but with behavior. Mature disciples intentionally seek to build relationships with people inside and outside their culture and faith tradition. They join Jesus in mission among the most vulnerable, using their God-given gifts, talents and passions and help others discover where they may be called to serve. They join Jesus and others to repair broken systems and structures that oppress, marginalize and devalue God's people and God's creation, and they engage in this sacred work as a means of grace. They honor God in the ways they work, plan and engage others in relationships. They tithe and consciously reorder their life to free up more resources to honor God and bless others. They take responsibility for their own growth through the daily practice of spiritual disciplines and partnering with God to help others grow in openness and obedience to Christ. Read more about church vitality. 

Is the vitality management system related to the old "vital signs" dashboard from 15 years ago? How will the conference measure 100% vitality and the transformation of lives? What definitions of vitality will be used to measure our progress toward our 2028 goals? 
Vitality will not be measured or defined by the previous dashboard. In fact, Bishop Easterling has stressed that vitality is not tied to counting numbers of dollars or members. We need time to develop new metrics that measure transformation—how far we have come from infancy in Christ to maturity in Christ. How well we are progressing in each of the aspects in BWC’s definition of vitality named above.

Hubs & Districts

How will the hubs be put together?  Will they be assigned?  Should local churches reach out to each other now to become a hub? What criteria or information will be used in the decision-making?
In June, churches will be asked to provide input, through a survey, that will provide insights into the best formation of the collaborative hubs along with information from the Discipleship Ministry form that churches complete annually. In addition to sharing similar affinities and missional priorities, the hubs will connect churches that are close to one another geographically.  However, pastors should not start forming these hubs now. A process to develop the hubs is being designed. The list of collaborative hubs is expected to be released in January 2025. 

Will the hubs replace the districts? Are the hubs in districts? 
Districts will be made up of several hubs that are located in areas that share similar population densities.

I think I heard the hubs will pool financial resources. How is this envisioned? 
Pooling resources is one of the potential benefits of connecting with one another at the local and district levels. While this sharing of resources may include money, (like hiring a staff person who works with all churches in the hub or raising funds for a missional need) it could also include the sharing of time, talent, and other resources.

How can a non-geographic hub work effectively on issues in the communities of the local churches? Even a geographic hub will likely have diverse community needs. 
There are no non-geographic hubs. Collaborative Hubs, which consist of five to 12 churches, are geographically based so that they can better address the area’s needs together. They will be designed to address ministry in specific contexts.

How tightly will the hubs be enforced -- i.e., will there be opportunities to collaborate outside your hub if the need arises? 
The BWC values collaboration, connection, and permission-giving. Your ability to collaborate is not limited by your hub.

What happens to churches that are in cooperative parishes? How will this hub culture affect them? 
Current cooperative parishes and other collaborations that are experiencing vitality will not be interrupted. After some assessment, vital cooperative parishes will remain intact, while others may be disbanded so that the churches can be connected with different churches in a new hub. The work of the cooperative parishes will be honored. 

We just entered into a two-charge cooperative parish. How would this be impacted?
Care will be taken to honor the work of existing partnerships.

Why are we suggesting increasing the number of districts with fewer churches in our conference?
We currently have eight districts; we are recommending a reduction to six.

To clarify, could a church be in the same hub as another church, but not be in the same district? 
No. One reason the hubs are being formed first is to ensure that the churches in each hub are in the same district. 

What is going to prevent certain hubs from being all one ethnicity? How do we not resegregate the conference? While certain hubs – from the nature of geography – may be one particular ethnicity, non-geographical districts will not. Additionally, as hubs are formed, we will seek to keep our value of diversity in mind – even if that means drawing the geographic circle a bit wider.


Is it expected that individual church administration such as trustees, administrative council, finance committee, etc. will be changed?There is no expectation of this unless a local church wishes to change it. A local church isn’t required to mirror the conference’s centralized administrative structure.

In this new configuration, will churches be able to maintain their autonomy regarding their internal and external processes and structures?
Yes, as long as they comply with the denomination’s Book of Discipline. And, we are encouraging churches to be connectional and collaborative instead of disconnective, insular and competitive.


How will co-vocational and bi-vocational clergy be supported in this new structure? Extra meetings with a superintendent every month could be a challenge for those serving in this capacity.
Serving bi- and co-vocationally is a reality for a significant and growing portion of our clergy. One way bi- and co-vocational clergy are envisioned to be supported is through offering clergy accountability groups with others who are serving in this way so that the schedule is convenient. Another support may be generated through the hubs that assist in building stronger connections between leaders and alleviate redundant demands on their time. The needs and the demands on the time of church leaders will be taken into effect as the new structure is further designed.

How does this change impact appointment selections for local pastors and Elders?
The bishop and Cabinet will begin to consider the dynamics and ministry needs of the hubs during their discernment. The general practice of longer appointments, provided that pastors are effective in their ministry settings, will continue. 

Will the clergy who share the same hub be in the same clergy accountability group, or are these two different groups? 
These are two different groups. Additionally, it should be noted that existing clergy accountability groups will be honored, even as the conference begins sharing curriculum for the clergy groups starting in the Fall of 2025.

How will existing groups like the Order of Elders and Deacons support this effort, particularly around clergy groups and support?
The Orders will continue their ministry of support and accountability. Their input and collective wisdom will prove helpful in the development of the curriculum for the clergy groups. 

How will this new system affect the health and pensions of pastors? 
It will not.

Other Questions

Has this form of redistricting been implemented or discussed in other conferences?
This restructuring effort has been informed by a comprehensive survey, 12  listening sessions, and meetings with the Discipleship Council and Connectional Table. The plan grows out of the feedback and insights that were shared.  While some annual conferences may be discussing or acting upon the spirit and intentions implicit in the BWC’s restructuring, we are not aware of any conferences that have implemented a similar plan. 

Was the forecast for potential church closures in 2025 factored into all of the operational/budget forecasting? 
Yes, it was. The Council on Finance and Administration is carefully assessing financial projections and realities. 

The presentation at the town hall indicated this restructuring will be budget neutral and not increase the headcount of conference staff. How can that occur when the number of our congregations (and thus, giving units) is being reduced because of disaffiliation? How many giving units have been lost? Is there an alternative to reduce the overall budget and headcount?  The local churches are confronting increased operational and maintenance costs as well.
While additional positions will not be added, some of the ministry and work of the conference staff may be adjusted to support the churches in this new configuration, particularly the position of Resource Coordinator. Twenty-three churches disaffiliated from the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Budget reductions and other sound stewardship measures have been taken by the Council on Finance and Administration to ensure that the departure of these churches does not negatively impact the conference’s mission and ministry. In addition, conference leaders are taking measures to ensure that local churches will not be required to increase their mission-share giving to pay for changes that may arise from restructuring.

Will this plan save the conference money?
While the plan is designed to be budget-neutral and will not raise churches’ mission shares, cost-savings are not the intent of the restructuring. Extensive feedback from people throughout the conference led to a plan designed to keep our mission of cultivating world-transforming disciples as the main thing, streamline administrative tasks, and positively impact the way we engage with one another for more missional impact.

If this plan is not accepted at the Annual Conference Session, is there a backup plan, so to speak? 
While the entirety of the plan does not need the formal approval of Annual Conference members, we are sharing the plan that has emerged from conference members. According to the Book of Discipline, the only thing being voted on by clergy and lay members to annual conference is the number of districts. Elements of this restructuring plan can be implemented regardless of the number of districts.  

What resources were referenced in the town hall?
Bishop Easterling quoted from The Book of Discipline and The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggeman and recommended The Right Kind of Wrong by Amy Edmonson.

Specifics We Don’t Know Yet–But Are On the Implementation Timeline

How will district committees, such as DCOM and Church Buildings and Locations, be handled?
Transition plans for major district committees (e.g., DCOM, CBL, District Boards of Lay Servant Ministry, etc) are scheduled to be completed by January 2025. This will give time for all impacted people to think through the best transition plan so that each person or project in the process experiences minimal disruption. Most district committees will relate to the two administrative regions. The bishop has issued assurances that the process of those currently involved in the candidacy process will not be interrupted by restructuring. We have a current example of a regional board of Church Buildings and Locations with representation from two districts. We do have existing examples of district committees combining to form a regional committee. 

There has been a lot said about accountability for pastors and churches. How will accountability work for superintendents and other conference and district staff? 
A system of accountability for everyone will be completed and ready to communicate prior to Annual Conference 2025.

You mentioned there will be district superintendents and conference superintendents. If so, how will that work? What will be the role of the district superintendents? And, how many will there be? 
We are moving away from the label of “district superintendents” and are beginning to use the name and idea of “conference superintendents.” This will enable the conference to better utilize the unique gifts and skill sets of each superintendent. The Book of Discipline offers a long job description of the superintendent. Some involve administrative ministries and others address missional strategy.We will be dividing responsibilities among individuals while ensuring local churches are clear about who to go to for what, and are well supported. The restructuring plan seeks to streamline administration and increase the number of mission strategists through collaborative hubs even as superintendents maintain their role as chief missional strategists. 

The number, roles, and assignments of conference superintendents will be published before PreCon 2025.

How might General Conference and a possible change of bishop impact this plan? How will the possibility of conference boundary changes after General or Jurisdictional Conference potentially impact this plan? If the Delaware-Peninsula Conference were to be merged with the BWC, would we still move forward on this plan?
In the restructuring timeline, mid-July is a period set aside to assess the impact and implications of the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. BWC leaders are already assessing the potential impact of certain actions and will continue to closely monitor the work of the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Many believe that if we were to move into a deeper relationship with Pen-Del, the restructuring plan could be helpful in that collaboration as districts are non-geographical.

What can you tell us about the survey that will be sent out in June? 
Surveys to allow churches to provide information that will be used in creating the hubs will be produced in time for distribution at Annual Conference on May 29-31. The surveys will also be sent to pastors and other key church leaders following the Annual Conference Session.   

If you have a question that isn’t answered above, please contact Melissa Lauber.