Conference leaders present new vision, mission statements

Conference leaders present new vision, mission statements

By John W. Coleman

Eastern PA Conference leaders announced a new Vision Statement and Mission Statement in a letter to members April 11. They will present those statements formally to the 2017 Annual Conference in the Celebration of Connectional Ministries Report June 15.

United in Christ, Committed to Transformation” is the new vision statement that offers “a unifying understanding and verbal expression of our identity as a conference and ultimately, our way forward as we seek to live into and out of that identity.”

The related mission statement, which defines an organization’s core purpose and primary goals, is “Creating Disciples, Celebrating Diversity, Connecting Communities, Committing to Love and Justice.”

????????????????????????????????????The process of crafting these new foundational statements required about three months of intensive discernment, deliberations and decision-making in a number of meetings involving the conference’s Extended Cabinet, staff and ministry leaders serving on the Connectional Table. Bishop Peggy Johnson, the Rev. Christopher Kurien, Director of Connectional Ministries, and the Rev. Robert Wilt, who chairs the Connectional Table, all led the process.

The Rev. Glenn Catley, a consultant and retired pastor from Delaware, planned and facilitated those discussions, assisted by his wife, Virginia Catley. Currently an interim, part-time associate pastor at Epworth UMC in Rehobeth, Del., he helped the Peninsula-Delaware Conference undertake a similar endeavor in 2016.

“Together, we have worked to define in summary our core purpose and goals,” reads the letter, now available on the conference website, “in concise but motivational terms that express the needs of our communities and the salient gifts, strengths, passions and concerns of our conference, its churches and its members.

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“I applaud the work of the Connectional Table in developing this updated vision and mission statement,” said Bishop Peggy Johnson. “Our consultant, Dr. Glenn Catley, created an atmosphere of prayerful discernment and dreaming for the future.”

The challenging, collaborative process was, in Catley’s words, “for the purposes of shaping the story of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, to build trust among all participants and bring clarity to what we do together in response to God’s call.” Skillfully using the power of storytelling and a process of distilling many ideas down to their core and common meanings, Catley involved leaders in exploring themes, concepts and values of their faith and discipleship in Christ, including diversity, justice, wholeness, community, collaboration, leadership, and love and service to God and one another.

Fortunately, they arrived at declarations that connect well with The United Methodist Church’s denominational mission statement, “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

“Remember always that our number one mission is to make disciples,” said Bishop Johnson. “That means sharing the Word of God and calling people into a saving relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ. And after conversion we work to disciple our flocks into the work of social holiness and perfection.”

????????????????????????????????????Now the bigger task for conference leaders is to develop dynamic strategies and action plans in order to pursue and implement the newly stated vision and mission. “Ultimately, our hope is that across this broad, diverse Eastern Pennsylvania Conference,” the letter concludes, “we can become a more dynamic, loving and just community of Christians who truly work together, united as disciples of Jesus Christ and committed to God’s transforming work in the world.”

NOTE: Want to see the Connectional Table hard at work?  Visit the new photo album on our Flickr photo page to view colorful photos of them engaging in intense discernment, deliberation and decision-making to arrive at vision and mission statements to propose to the Extended Cabinet.