The Connectional Table met on Saturday, April 8th at the United Methodist Foundation in Huntersville for its spring meeting.
After a strategic meeting in January focusing on the process and goals for the upcoming quadrennium, the spring gathering focused on alignment of teams and looking at new strategic initiatives of the body.
Bishop Leeland led off the meeting reminding the team of its purpose and its vision to be the collective wisdom of the conference leadership, by considering these questions:
- How can we constantly adjust our vision and mission for the good for the conference?
- Where do we see alignment and where we can work together?
- Where do we see fruitfulness in the conference?
- Where do we need to place our resources to make the biggest impact in the conference?
We heard a report from an ongoing initiative that was set in place at the November 2016 meeting. A task force on “A Way Forward” was devised to look at dealing proactively with issues that may come about after the anticipated 2019 called meeting of General Conference and the reports from “A Commission on A Way Forward.” That work will be ongoing.
We continued discussion on a primary initiative that developed during the January meeting. As the Connectional Table, we see for the coming years, a focus on Christian formation that includes: 1) an external focus, 2) a blending of Wesley’s personal and social holiness, 3) increased focus on developing opportunities for partnership of clergy and laity that 4) takes seriously our communities and context, and is 5) based in local communities of faith.
Before our summer meeting, each ministry team in the conference agreed to explore their alignment with this initiative, and how they can lead into the future with the five focus areas above.
A new initiative was introduced by Rev. Luke Edwards of King Street Church in Boone, NC. This came out of the work of the Church Vitality Team over the past several months.
Edwards outlined the vision of Fresh Expressions of Church and its basic definition: “A form of church for our changing culture established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.”
Focusing on roughly 40-60% of the population that will never enter the doors of an established church, Fresh Expressions communities engage their context in low cost, lay driven, and nimble ways that can be supported and planted by traditional “anchor” churches.
A proposal to join in a partnership with Fresh Expressions US, as have other United Methodist conferences, was presented to the body. After a fruitful discussion, the Connectional Table affirmed the motion that came from the Church Vitality Team and the conference will join this partnership in 2017.
To learn more about Fresh Expressions, make plans to attend the Vision Day scheduled for May 6th at First UMC in Salisbury.
The Mission Engagement Team led a discussion on “Connection to Abundant Health”, one of the four primary focus areas of the denomination for the quadrennium (this replaces the “Imagine No Malaria” initiative that we participated in from 2012-16).
They will be pursuing a relationship with Medika Mamba (“Peanut Butter Medicine” in French creole) to support their mission of improving the health of over 1 million malnourished children in the coming years.
Reports from a number of the groups completed the meeting. A core focus of this time was on alignment with our mission and vision as a conference and how we can better streamline our processes, improve our communications and organization, and work together to make world transforming disciples.
The next meeting of the Connectional Table is scheduled for Saturday, July 22nd.