A message from Bishop Peggy Johnson: “Rethink Annual Conference – reducing the size and refocusing resources to support churches in making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World.”
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! It is a good time to be in the service of God in the United Methodist Church. Much good is happening in this world thanks to the dedication and vision of the many lay and clergy servants of the Lord in Eastern Pennsylvania.
As your bishop I am calling you to a time of consecrated prayer for the conference between now and Annual Conference (May 20-22). I have asked Mr. Ross Brightwell, the president of the EPA United Methodist Men, to use our men’s units and organize intentional times of prayer among our many churches.
The purpose of this “call to prayer” is to consecrate ourselves and to seek God’s guidance as we engage in a process of “Rethinking” the mission and organization of the EPA Annual Conference.
Where we have been:
In the recent past the Annual Conference has been organized around the Strategic Plan that was conducted in the 1990’s. In 2003 and 2005 this plan was reviewed and revised and much good has been accomplished through implementation of the mission and ministries of the Strategic Plan.
What’s been happening last year:
1. During the summer a committee of conference leaders gathered several times to consider the Strategic Plan and to update it for ministry in the 21st century. They refined the mission statement to reflect the current goal of our denomination: “To make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The committee eliminated parts of the plan that we have already accomplished and refocused the plan around the four denominational foci:
-to develop principled leaders
-to plant new churches and redevelop existing congregations
-to engage in ministry with the poor
-to expand global health ministries
2. In the fall the structure review committee met to organize the structure of the conference around these goals and objectives.
3. While we have been doing this work, the economic situation was added to the influences calling for our rethinking.
4. An independent consultant met with the extended cabinet two times to review this process and to suggest ways to move forward in these challenging economic times. We want to make the infrastructure of the conference reflect our denominational and conference mission as well as the current economic realities. Based on our work with the consultant, we are moving forward with the following plans:
Plans for moving forward:
1. A group of representatives of lay and clergy (reflecting our full diversity) will gather for focus meetings to consider the mission and structure of the conference and to prioritize the specific functions that are essential to successfully resource our congregations. They will suggest staffing and organizational models to accomplish the ministry (February 20 and March 20). They will be led by a steering committee of four who have been set aside to oversee this process. They are: Rev. Kent Kroehler, Rev. Dr. Andrew Foster, Rev. Brunilda Martinez and Rev. Sukja Bang.
2. Congregations participated in an on-line survey. The results of that survey will be carefully considered.
3. In March the bishop is holding “Town Hall” meetings for lay and clergy to present the goals, structure and staffing models for further refinement and clarification.
4. Conference staff, the Conference Transformation Team, and key leaders will be gathered for additional meetings to obtain their input and suggestions. Since one of our goals is budgetary (and staff reduction), our current staff will be kept informed about every part of the process.
5. The final product will be presented at simultaneous pre-conference meetings which will be held on each district on Sunday, April 25th at 3 pm (locations to be announced soon).
6. May 20-22nd the plan will be brought to a final vote at Annual Conference in Lancaster, PA.
7. The budgetary implications of these annual conference decisions will be reviewed by the Conference Council on Finance and Administration during the summer and fall.
8. The 2011 budget will be voted on at a special adjourned session of Annual Conference, which will be held on Sat. November 13, 2010 from 9 am until 1 pm. (location to be announced soon)
What we need from you:
-Pray for our conference as we proceed with our plans, structure and staffing adjustments. Your prayers are the most important resource we have.
-Participate in the on-line survey or the survey (hard copy) that will be distributed at your churches by February 8th. We need your feedback and suggestions. Encourage your congregation’s leaders to use the on-line survey or hard copy. Use discussion time in your leadership group’s next meeting to discuss and offer opinions on how the conference can serve you best. This will only work if everyone has input and acceptance of the plan. A “top-down” model of decision making without the full participation of the churches, pastors and congregants will not succeed. Mark your calendars now for these dates (listed above). Locations and further information will be coming in the New Spirit, in the Conference Website and through the district offices.
Any questions? Please email your District Superintendent or Rev. Lillian Smith, our Director of Connectional Ministries, Lillian.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Town Hall Meetings
In March the bishop will be on each district to conduct “Town Hall” meetings for lay and clergy to present the goals, structure and staffing models of the Annual Conference for refinement and clarification. Here are the dates and locations. Please feel free to attend a meeting in another district if your district date is not convenient. This should be viewed as a required meeting for clergy, as there will be serious discussion about the re-structuring of the Annual Conference. Please make this a high priority, and congregations need to know that the town hall meetings are not just for pastors and lay members of Conference. Everyone with an interest in the Annual Conference is urged to attend a Town Hall Meeting!
March 4 – 7:00 pm St. Matthews UMC, 600 Walker Road, Wayne, PA (Central)
March 7 – 3:00 pm Grove UMC, 490 W. Boot Road, West Chester, PA (Southeast)
March 8 – 7:00 pm Huntingdon Valley UMC, 3470 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, PA (East)
March 9 – 7:00 pm Bethany UMC, 1208 Brookside Road, Allentown, PA (Northeast southern tier)
March 11 – 7:00 pm Lampeter UMC, Book and Village Rds., Lampeter, PA. (Southwest)
March 13 – 10:00 am First UMC, 420 Saylor Street, Schuylkill Haven, PA (Northwest)
March 15 – 7:00 pm Reeders UMC, Route 715 (3 miles south of Tannersville), Reeders, PA (Northeast northern tier)