Connectional Table

EPA Conference leaders report, reflect on ministry priorities

Leaders of EPA Conference boards and committees tried a new and improved approach to conferencing together at their first meeting of the new year on Saturday, Jan. 11. They shortened their oral committee reports and instead spent more time dialoging about creative initiatives supportive of the mission priorities of The United Methodist Church.

The Connectional Table (CT) meeting, held at St. Matthew’s UMC of Valley Forge, drew a moderate attendance but allowed participants more time to share promising perspectives and experiences in doing faith-sharing outreach ministry. The ongoing discussion, begun at their last meeting in October 2013, may eventually expand to encompass the denomination’s four mission foci:

  • Ministry with the Poor;
  • Developing principled, Christian leaders;
  • Creating new places (of worship and discipleship) for new people; and
  • Fostering global health and wholeness.

Deaconess Barbara Skarbowski, of the Disability Concerns Committee, reported on a survey and several events where people are learning and sharing the need for a greater response to the challenges and accessibility needs of people with disabilities.

The Rev. Esdras Seda celebrated progress in the Latino Commission’s efforts to hold the conference’s first Spanish Walk to Emmaus and its first training for Latinos who will establish faith communities in non-Latino churches, as well as expansion of its annual Latino Summer Camp Week.

In addition, the leaders shared innovative evangelism outreach activities and discoveries happening in various churches and communities, but with a focus more on spreading the gospel than on increasing church attendance and membership.

“As the Connectional Table continues to function in new ways, our goal is to have more time to discern where God is leading us together,” said Perkowski, who co-chairs the group with the Rev. John Bhajjan, assisted by the Rev. Christopher Kurien, Director of Connectional Ministries. “But that means we must continue our conversations and network with one another between sessions for our efforts to be effective.” The Connectional Table meets several times a year; the next meeting will be scheduled for the summer or fall.

by John W. Coleman, EPA Director of Communications