Dec 17, 2021

The Eastern PA Conference’s Extended Cabinet, comprising district superintendents, senior staff  and Bishop John Schol, is building on EPA’s vision, mission and a recent survey of laity and clergy to set priorities for its work.

That conversation started in September with a survey of conference members, followed by Cabinet members’ consideration of survey findings and deliberations among around the question “Why do we exist?”  And then it moved to conference staff and elected leaders of ministry groups who serve on the Connectional Table, all giving feedback, perspectives and energy in developing priorities.

EPAUMC’s current vision and mission statement—stating its core values and commitments—were developed in April 2017 through input from the Connectional Table and Cabinet. Its Vision: United in Christ, Committed to Transformation. Its four-part Mission: Creating Disciples; Celebrating Diversity; Connecting Communities; and Committing to Love and Justice.

The Extended Cabinet, in addition to leading and managing the administration and ministry of EPA, works together to develop transformational lay and clergy leaders. Those leaders will guide congregations to become healthy, vital and missional, as they “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.“ Acts 2:42-27 reflects congregations that meet together regularly for fellowship, worship and discipleship. In this model, congregations share with one another and the wider community in order to transform lives and communities.

In addition to its ongoing administrative and programmatic work, the Cabinet will focus its work on four key areas:

  1. Ending the sin of racism. Strategies and goals for this area are being developed by the Economic Justice Team and will be reported to the 2022 annual conference session.
  2. Recruiting and developing transformational leaders who lead congregations and ministries. The Extended Cabinet will develop a strategy and process for recruiting and equipping leaders. It has projected working with 90 laity and 90 clergy in the first few years.
  3. Growing healthy vital missional congregations that are connecting with the people in the community and engaging in mercy and justice ministries in the community.
  4. Strengthening the health and capacity of EPA by strengthening giving for local and global mission. 

The keys to being healthy, vital, missional congregations are those that demonstrate:

  1. Inspirational worship
  2. Small-group learning and growth
  3. Sharing God’s grace through personal relationships with Jesus Christ
  4. Community hands-on mission engagement
  5. Generous giving toward mission

Such congregations engage in community ministry by developing ministries and partnering with others in action and service that transforms lives and conditions, particularly in efforts to end the sin of racism and oppression and to be ministry with the poor. 

The Extended Cabinet sees its critical role in developing leadership in the following areas:

  • Equip, coach and support leadership for excellence in ministry.
  • Lead the creation of resources and programs that equip leadership to lead congregations and ministries.
  • Provide administration and communications that serves and supports leaders and congregations to do excellent ministry.

Moreover, the Cabinet sees the importance of understanding and leveraging the EPAUMC’s culture—values, beliefs and traditions—as it impacts our purpose.

Culture that enhances the purpose of EPAUMC:

  • The rich tradition and history of EPAUMC that anchors our ministry in a long succession of witnesses over hundreds of years and serves as an inspiration to address today’s challenges. (HISTORICAL ANCHORS)
  • The diversity of EPAUMC that provides different approaches, cultures and understandings that allows us to better connect with a diverse and changing world. (MAXIMIZED DIVERSITY)
  • The variety of churches and locations that make United Methodism resourceful to people of different experiences and needs. (RESOURCEFUL)
  • The willingness to collaborate and work together on the significant challenges of our times. (COLLABORATIVE)

Culture that inhibits the purpose of EPAUMC:

  • Fear and a culture of scarcity that makes leaders and congregations reluctant to take risks, innovate and invest in their future. (FALSE SCARCITY TO GENEROSITY)
  • Over dependence on clergy and/or legacy leaders to lead the church (CLERGY DEPENDEPENT TO SHARED MINISTRY)
  • Forming into groups by cause and similarity that creates silos and limits the transformative power through focus, collaboration and alignment to accomplish plans, goals and the mission (SILO-DRIVEN TO COLLABORATIVE)
  • Reacting to challenges rather than planning, setting goals and supporting people to achieve the goals (REACTIVE TO PROACTIVE)

The Cabinet will continue its discussions and share perspectives and plans further with conference and church leaders in 2022, as the EPAUMC’s strategic direction and goals are finalized, communicated and set in motion.

* More about the EPAUMC Vision:

United in Christ

United Methodists are from many backgrounds, and we are united in Christ.  This common ground shapes what we believe as well as what we do.   We seek to be a church that models our unity in Christ, while also valuing the voices of all people at the table.  

Committed to Transformation

Romans 12:1-2 calls us to change our mindset. Philippians 2:5-11 explains that we are to have the mind of Christ, to humble ourselves and serve others. Transformation involves a turning away from the beliefs, systems and ways of the world in order to reveal the truth of and provide evidence of the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.

As people in EPAUMC committed to transformation, it is incumbent upon us to identify the ways that are of the world, such as poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, evil, injustice and oppression in any form. Living out this commitment calls us to speak, act and respond in ways that will create an environment that is a counter culture to the world and its establishments.

Transformation can be lived out by teaching the concepts and principles of the Kingdom, which are the opposite of the world’s principles.  This is our “Aha!” moment, a leap in thinking, pivoting away from what we think we know, a giant step in our faith walk, an epiphany. If you will, a revelation. 

As an Extended Cabinet, we will recognize and support congregations as the missional outposts of EPAUMC for changing hearts, lives and communities to be more like Christ.   Our priority is to lead congregations to connect with the people in the community and to be in ministry with the people in the community.  

5 Characteristics of A Passionate Disciple, Transformational Leader and Vital Congregations

Findings from September 2021 survey of EPA laity and clergy

Passionate DiscipleTransformational LeaderVital Wesleyan Congregation
ServantExcellent communicatorWelcomes All People As They Are
Life-Long LearnerPositive and hopefulEngages People in Hands-On Mission
HumbleVisionaryInspiring & Uplifting Worship
CompassionateConnects and Engages Well with PeopleTrains People to Share Their Faith with Others and Invites Them to Worship
PrayerfulDelegates and Supports Others in Their MinistryOffers Small Groups for Study and/or Service