By Rev. John Collett, Acting Director of Connectional Ministries
God’s spirit seemed to move among us at the recent sessions of the 2016 Annual Conference. Our clergy and lay members came in good numbers. Our worship was spirited. The teaching by Bishop McAlilly and Dr. L. Gregory Jones was formational. Bishop Michael McKee of the North Texas Conference brought a powerful word. The business sessions made good use of time to move our mission forward. And, as always, Brentwood UMC staff and volunteers were exceptional by offering hospitality and wonderful facilities.
More than these, I felt God’s spirit leading us deeper into our discipleship and propelling us toward “offering Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time.” AC2016 reinforced for me what the contemporary missionary movement emphasizes: the church does not have a mission as much as the mission of God has a church. Our churches serve no less that the mission of God to transform the world into the image of Christ.
As Acting Director of Connectional Ministries, I had much to learn about all that is involved in coordinating the team to organize and implement the logistics of these annual sessions. God blessed us with an amazing team of people, not the least of which was events planner Vicki Sharber who came out of retirement to put together hundreds of details that go into an annual conference. I could not begin here to name everyone who contributed, but let me say our conference staff – all of them – and a number of seasonal workers and volunteers joined together as a fine-tuned team to make it all happen.
As those of you who participated know, we tried some new things this year that seemed to be well-received. We streamlined the agenda by using a consent calendar to approve items that were reported in writing but did not have to be debated; we greatly reduced the amount of paper (paper-less) by using more technology and multimedia. We utilized Brentwood’s facility in some different ways, using Haney Hall as our main gathering space for registration and visiting. And we incorporated expertly produced video stories to share examples of our mission.
We want to hear your feedback on this year’s sessions. Please let us know what you thought was helpful and what was not. Evaluations can be completed online through our website using this link. We are always striving to “conference” in ways that strengthen the ties that bind and that advance our mission.
Our connectional staff now moves to much anticipated work with our Executive/Personnel Committee under the leadership of Rev. Chip Hunter. We seek to address how we will align our program structure, staff, and resources with our mission “to discover, equip, connect, and send lay and clergy leaders who shape congregations that offer Jesus Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time.” And specifically as a conference program staff, we want to help increase the capacity of congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Call on us. Let us know your concerns and aspirations. We, as your staff, are here to come alongside you and your congregation to facilitate God’s mission to your neighbors with the transforming love of Christ.