The Western North Carolina Conference held its quadrennial leadership organizing and training event for the 2016-2020 quadrennium at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Hickory, N.C. on Saturday, July 8, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The theme for the day was: ” Leading Into the Future.”
Those invited to the event included all conference and district staff, and all elected members of boards, commissions and committees of the annual conference. These persons were elected as leaders of the conference at the 2016 Annual Conference session held in June. Close to 300 were in attendance at Saturday’s event.
The day began in worship with music prepared by Rev. Josh Sherfey of First United Methodist Church in Taylorsville. The band, One Acchord, from that church led the music for the morning.
Various conference leaders led in prayers and readings, and Bishop Goodpaster preached from Exodus 13:17-22 a sermon entitled, “Leading into, through and out of the wilderness.”
Beginning with reflections of the week previous and mentioning the violence in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas, he called the leadership to build, model and encourage kingdom community across Western North Carolina.
He shared three lessons from the scripture for the gathering to take with them:
- Beware of short cuts– “Innovation happens when you make mistakes…keep your eyes on the Promised Land.”
- Don’t forget the past– “Hold on to who we are as Wesleyans..the warm-heart and working hands, the love of God and neighbor, the both/and.”
- Look for God’s signposts– “Look for God in your midst…Lead the church where God would have us go.”
After a short break, Rev. Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia, in suburban, Washington, D.C., led the body in a session entitled: “Leading Through Change.”
Building upon Bishop Goodpaster’s leadership on the adaptive challenge over the psat eight years, Berlin used the story from Acts 15:6-11 and the early church as a focus for leading in the midst of change. He outlined five key leadership traits for leaders with the question, “What should they expect from you?”
- Candor– “Speak the truth in love…candor begins conversations that matter.”
- Camaraderie– “Make connections and linkages with others in the conference…United Methodists don’t do their best work behind microphones, but across the table from each other.”
- Clarity– “In your context, why are people not heading in the same direction?…What one thing is the main thing for the Annual Conference?”
- Connections– “Our resources and relationships among each other are what matter in connectionalism.”
- Courage– “Note that this word is right in the middle of an important word for today- Encouragement….we need to be courageous, not in obtaining power and control, but courageous in love.”
Following lunch, leadership from eighteen different teams gathered in small groups and organized for the coming quadrennium. IN some groups that involved electing officers and assigning committees, and in all groups they discerned how their team aligned with the conference mission: “Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.”
The day closed with a brief time of commitment, with each team stating publicly their purpose and how it aligned to the mission, and each individual making a personal commitment to lead into the future.