Dec 05, 2023

Each month EPA&GNJ Cabinet and staff will be reporting on the progress and next steps, opportunities and challenges in collaborative areas of leadership, database development, ending the sin of racism, youth ministry groups, camp & retreat ministry, finances and benefits, and statistical reports. Here are December updates.

The top three concerns expressed in responses to the fall 2023 EPA&GNJ Collaboration Survey include:

Clarity and access to information – 51%
Responsiveness of Conference staff – 41%
Affiliated database development – 31%

Database Development/Arena

Our progress made thus far includes:

  • We have hired a programming consultant with expertise in Arena.
  • We have purchased a ticket tracking platform that will allow members to click a a link located on our website or send an email to the support email address to create a trackable ticket. Tickets will automatically be assigned to members of the data team based upon type, scope, and urgency. This platform will also feature a knowledgebase of self-help information regarding the processes and procedures for Arena use. All questions should be submitted through this system so that the process can be monitored.

Our next steps:

  • We have targeted completion of some steps by spring of 2024. We will not roll out any updates until they are fully tested.
  • We are assigning an Arena Administrator in each congregation to act as the expert and liaison with the Arena Team. This group will also act as our beta testers before new rollouts.
  • We are setting up the ShelbyNext financial platform to simplify and automate the billing system for both conferences. This includes online Bill Pay for both conferences.
  • We will create a better, more flexible, and more robust registration system to be rolled out prior to the annual conference.
  • We are organizing the data in Arena, streamlining data entry to one request for any given data point, and improving the usability of the member and staff portals.

Clarity and Access to Information

  • A new webpage will be updated monthly with information about our collaboration. Learn more.
  • The EPA&GNJ taskforce working on resolutions/recommendations to the May 2024 Annual Conferences will provide listening sessions in 2024 for both conferences.

Responsiveness of Conference Staff

Our progress made thus far:

  • All Regional Administrator positions have been filled in EPA&GNJ.
  • Onboarding and increased retention are key to future success. All staff take courses in Outward Mindset as part of their onboarding process.

Conference staffing can be viewed at EPA and GNJ.

Our next steps:

  • Increase response rate to all emails and phone calls. Arena processes are being moved to as much automation as possible to free up time for other staff work.
  • EPA is in the process of hiring two new Associate Superintendent positions, to be filled 1/1/24.

Collaboration Legislation

Our progress made thus far:

Boards and Agencies and the Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) task force from EPA&GNJ have developed areas of shared services between the two conferences.

Our next steps:

  • The MOU task force of EPA&GNJ will establish listening sessions across both conferences to gain feedback on the resolutions/recommendations for the 2024 Annual Conferences.
  • Legislation shall be brought to each Annual Conference session in May to vote on the areas of collaboration.


Our progress made thus far:

  • Greater New Jersey, in collaboration with Eastern PA Conference, received a grant of $1,249,980 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to further develop the Leadership Academy through a Preaching module. The program is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative.
  • Mosaic Ministries continues to expand with visits this fall to Princeton Seminary, Drew Theological School, and Palmer, Moravian and Lancaster seminaries. We have Mosaic recruitment nights scheduled for Drew and Palmer in November. We are working on Princeton, Moravian, and Lancaster recruitment events. If you plan to visit a Seminary and would like to learn more about Mosaic, please contact the Rev. Kate Monahan:
  • Breakthrough, a worship and sermon series resource for congregations, just launched a new Advent series for congregations, titled Prepare!
  • EPA&GNJ have expanded Pathways to include Pathways: NextGEN, an intentional plan for congregations seeking to develop youth ministry. Learn more,

Our next steps:

  • The Leadership Academy will launch quarterly courses on the Teachable platform. Upcoming courses in January 2024 will include “What is a Trustee?” “SPRC 101,” and “Church Council 101.”
  • EPA&GNJ are currently hiring two positions for the implementation of the Lilly Preaching Academy grant.

Ending the Sin of Racism

Our progress made thus far:

  • EPA’s Committee on Leadership & GNJ’s Nominations Team are on track with planning for their 2024-2028 conference leadership nomination slates, especially focused on Journey of Hope and A Path Towards Wholeness metrics. EPA is currently at 41% persons of color in chairperson roles. GNJ is at 51% persons of color in leadership roles.
  • EPA&GNJ are committed to pursuing economic justice for our local churches. Reductions for Apportionments/Shared Ministry and billed funds are based on a formula as approved by each Annual Conference. We are updating our list of median salaries per zip code and re-evaluating the churches who should be receiving the Journey of Hope/A Path to Wholeness grant reductions.

Our next steps:

Planning for the Implicit Bias Review of all legislation is on track for Jan. 15-Feb. 15, 2024, in both EPA&GNJ.

Developing youth ministry groups

Our progress made thus far:

EPA has hired two new part-time youth coordinators, Michael Nelson and Caasi Grove. The team of Mecan Payne, Michael Nelson and Caasi Grove are available to work with churches across EPA&GNJ on developing youth groups.

Next Steps:

Youth Leader Days are planned for both EPA&GNJ in early 2024.