2014 Tools for Ministry offers learning for leadership

To serve the present age,
my calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
to do my Master’s will!

From “A Charge to Keep I Have” by Charles Wesley

“Ministry for Today’s Church” is the theme for the EPA Conference’s 2014 Tools for Ministry training event on Jan. 25. Hundreds of lay and clergy leaders will gather at six district sites for a full Saturday morning of worship, workshops and witnessing to their faith, their calling to fulfill.

Whether they are called to leadership in evangelism, stewardship, missions, nurture, worship, pastor-parish relations or other pursuits, their common quest will be to energize and engage their powers to do creative, Christ-led ministry that serves the present age.

The six district locations and times will be:

  • Central District: Phoenixville First UMC, Phoenixville, PA: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • East District: Bensalem UMC, Bensalem, PA: 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  • Northeast District: Asbury UMC, Allentown, PA: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.(The NE District will also hold a second Tools training event Saturday, March 22 from 8:30 to 3 pm, at East Stroudsburg (PA) UMC.)
  • Northwest District: First UMC, Schuylkill Haven, PA: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Southeast District: West Grove UMC, West Grove, PA: 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Southwest District: St. Mark’s UMC, Mount Joy, PA: 8:30 to 12:30 p.m.

District event planners hope to get all registrations in before Jan. 17. Fees range up to $10. District brochures contain details of all the sessions, including available classes. Contact your District Resource Assistant for more information.

The workshops address a wide array of topics, including church conflict, hospitality and wellness ministries, multicultural ministries in changing communities, fostering stewardship after an economic recession, working with the poor and the agencies that serve them, evangelism through social media, and athletic ministries to attract active men to church.

Some classes will target ministry with particular persons and groups in the church and community: from youth and young adults–including a class about Generation X, titled “Young, Gifted and Broke”–to children and older adults; and from pastors and pastors’ spouses to United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women cooperating as partners in ministry.

Classes will also focus on ministry with and about disabled and mentally ill persons, Native Americans, people living with HIV and AIDS, and people struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), grief and loss, pornography and addiction (“The Unacknowledged Disease”). Some workshops will introduce promising and often popular church movements that many want to know more about, including Celebrate Recovery, the Circles Anti-Poverty Initiative, Christ Servant Ministers, Covenant Relationships, the Mission ConneXion and Safe Sanctuaries.

Finally, there are the intriguing class titles that will draw many curious students. “Isn’t There Something More?” is for church leaders who want to become spiritual leaders. “Can I Get a Witness?” and “Evangelism for Introverts” are both classes for people who want to learn to freely share their testimonies. And “May the Words of My Mouth Be at Least Vaguely Useful” is for people who yearn to pray aloud in public.

Partly in preparation for inclement weather, the Northeast District plans to have two Tools for Ministry events. Their Jan. 25 session will offer training only for Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations, Finance and Trustee committee leaders. Participants may attend this event or view it in a Webinar either live or later on-demand. Their second training event on Saturday, March 22, at East Stroudsburg (PA) UMC will offer about a dozen additional workshops.

“The gathering of these local church and district leaders to learn more about their vital responsibilities is critical to our overall ministry at every level of the church,” said Dr. Mary White, EPA Conference Lay Leader, who credits district lay leaders and superintendents for their work in planning the events. “Christ calls us to be faithful and fruitful in making disciples who can help transform churches, communities and indeed, the world. Tools for Ministry is one of the most important annual events in the this conference that enables us to live out that call.”