Bishop John Schol in a new letter to EPA members reviews our May 2022 Annual Conference and reports on next steps to implement groundbreaking decisions made there.
Message from Bishop Schol: Annual Conference follow-up
You will know them by their fruit…every good tree bears good fruit. -Matthew 7:16-17
Dear Friends in Christ,
The EPA leadership thanks everyone for a blessed and fruitful Annual Conference session. The lay and clergy members worked together to review, amend, and pass important legislation. The planning teams helped the entire conference session go well. Thank you.
At the bottom of this email, you will find the results of the Annual Conference evaluation. Prior to the evaluation, I want to share with you what we affirmed, the commitments we made and the next steps for our life and ministry together.
EPA has an important history within United Methodism and a bright future as we work and serve together. I see the United Methodists of EPA deepening and growing their faith in God, and strengthening congregations to engage with people in their communities to make new disciples of Jesus Christ and to address important community needs. I see us working together to end the sin of racism and unifying people for mission and ministry in EPA and around the world. God has a bright future for EPA.
Prior to, during and since Annual Conference we have been taking steps to strengthen our purpose: Recruit and develop transformative leaders who lead to make passionate disciples and grow vital congregations for the transformation of the world.
During the Annual Conference session, you heard about four important goals.
1. Grow the number of vital congregations from 25% to 35%. Vital congregations are growing in making new disciples (through professions of faith) and engaging disciples in worship, participation in small groups, hands-on mission and giving to mission. We will work together to reach this goal by the end of 2023; and we will be led by Evelyn Kent Clark, Dean of the Cabinet, and Dawn Taylor-Storm, Director of Connectional Ministries.
2. Develop a transformational leadership development strategy that will work with and train 90 lay and 90 clergy leaders in the areas of vision, innovation, core leadership competencies, emotional intelligence, and developing and achieving strategies and plans. We plan to begin with the first wave of leaders in early 2023 and it will be led by Steve Morton, Leadership Development Manager
3. Work together to end the sin of racism in the church and in our communities. During the Annual Conference session, we passed the Pathways to Wholeness Plan (You may find the plan by clicking here.). One of the cornerstones of the plan was a more fair and equitable shared ministries apportionment. The conference overwhelmingly passed a new formula for congregations serving in low-income communities. The following are the next areas for review and action, as voted on or committed to in the 2022 Annual Conference session.
- Addressing lower salaries for clergy of color: Evelyn Kent Clark, Dean of the Cabinet, and David Koch, former Lay Leader, will prepare a report with action plans for the 2023 Annual Conference session.
- Equitable general church apportionments and billings for congregations in low-income communities: James Brown, EPA Treasurer, and Irene Dickinson, EPA Council on Finance Chairperson, will prepare a report with action plans for the 2023 Annual Conference session.
- New sources of grants for churches of color to increase their financial capacity for mission and ministry: Dawn Taylor-Storm, Director of Connectional Ministries, and Myra Maxwell, Co-Chairperson of the Urban Commission, will develop a strategy by December 31, 2022.
- Appoint members to the Economic Justice Team: Bishop Schol and David Piltz, Co-Chairperson of the Committee on Leadership, will recommend members by September 30, 2022.
4. Grow EPA giving from an 87% apportioned giving rate to a 90% giving rate. Strengthening congregational stewardship and giving is key to sustaining the mission of congregations. James Brown, EPA Treasurer, will lead this effort.
Additional actions by the Annual Conference and follow up.
5. Pathways Roll Out: As we emerge from the pandemic the Annual Conference approved a series of pathways to help congregations discern what God has next for their future (You can find the plan by clicking here.). Steve Morton, Leadership Development Manager, and Bill Thompson, Conference Lay Leader, will provide information on how to participate in the different Pathways by September 1, 2022.
6. An Information Session about disaffiliation will be held August 1, at 6:30 p.m. Jo Fielding, Director of Administrative Services, and Bishop Schol, will lead the session. More information will follow.
7. Courageous Conversations: There are many matters that seem to divide people and the church. Often, we do not understand or hear one another’s concerns and experiences. A series of conversations will be organized this fall throughout EPA to listen and learn about one another’s experiences, concerns and hopes. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Director of Connectional Ministries, and Tim Anderman, presenter of the Annual Conference resolution, will lead the series.
These seven actions over the next year should deepen our purpose and grow leadership, disciples and congregations. They will help us to discern God’s future for us, to grow our sustainability as congregations, and to unify us for mission and ministry as we help EPA better serve the church and the world.
You are important to our fruitfulness in each of these areas. Please pray for our leadership and our work and ministry at every level. Share these seven actions with your congregation to involve them in these ministries. Let us work together to make EPA even more fruitful in recruiting and developing transformative leaders, making passionate disciples, growing vital congregations and transforming the world.
Keep the faith!
2022 Annual Conference Evaluation
(Question – Percent Agree)
- The themes and agenda were shared and explained so that members connected the purpose of Annual Conference with EPA’s mission. – 96.60%
- The purpose and objectives of Annual Conference were clearly outlined at the event and in the promotional materials. – 96.60%
- I felt this session of Annual Conference achieved its objectives. – 91.70%
- The mission of EPA was shared and described so that the group connected with the greater mission of the church. – 94.70%
- The promotional materials prior to Annual Conference were clear, informative, and done with excellence. – 90.90%
- The instructional materials during the event were clear, informative, and done with excellence. – 91.70%
- The materials and presentations were culturally sensitive to the diversity of the settings and people at Annual Conference. – 91.20%
- Annual Conference included important and new information for my leadership and/or ministry. – 86.50%
- The worship at Annual Conference was inspiring, spiritually enriching, and appropriate. – 93.90%
- Overall, the leadership listened, were well prepared and engaged participants in development and learning. – 90.10%
- The Episcopal address was well prepared, provided information that will help me in my setting and delivered the content in a way that assisted my learning and ability to lead/serve. – 95.10%
- Legislation was well prepared, provided information that will help me in my setting and delivered the content in a way that assisted my ability to lead/serve. – 87.10%
- Registration prior to Annual Conference was easy to navigate and clear. – 96.60%
- The technology used during the event assisted learning and was appropriate. – 90.60%
Bishop John Schol
The United Methodists of
Eastern Pennsylvania & Greater New Jersey
BishopJohnSchol@epaumc.church | 484-474-0939
BishopJohnSchol@gnjumc.org | 732-359-1010
Equipping transformational leaders for
New Disciples | Vital Congregations | Transformed World