The Conference Connectional Table (CCT) met June 27 at the Methodist Building in Garner. After a devotion by Gretchen Shea and communion led by Bishop Ward, the CCT moved into the day’s business.
New CCT Member
Hazel Boatwright, the newest CCT member, is a newly-commissioned Deaconess who works with Partners in Ministry in Laurinburg.
Request for Supplemental Funding: Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC21)
Over a year ago, the conference SBC21 committee entered into partnership with the General Church’s SBC21 program, created to help SBC21 committees do their work. The partnership started in June 2017, and the committee paid the first payment on the partnership. This caused a shortfall in the committee’s program budget.
The coaches that this program provides are trained within the cultural framework and specialize in the best practices for black churches. They come to the local church and develop a team within the local church. The two conference churches currently signed up are John Wesley UMC (Fayetteville) and Shepherd’s House Mission (Durham).
There is a great deal of alignment with this program and the ones the conference currently utilizes. Long-term, the CCT wishes to bubble up coaches from within our conference who are trained to do this work so that the conference can create something that is sustainable. An August meeting is planned with Dr. Fred Allen, executive director of SBC21, to discuss building leadership from within our conference.
The supplemental funding request was approved by a hands-up vote. The request goes next to CFA for approval.
Annual Conference Scheduling
Scheduling of Annual Conference in ways that benefit the most people continues to be a challenge. This year, Annual Conference was held in a compact amount of time and a lot was accomplished. With the schedule utilized this year, pastors were in their pulpits on Sunday, although many seats were empty at Ordination on Saturday afternoon.
The caveat continues to be that youth and young working adults are at a disadvantage to attend Annual Conference when it falls on weekdays. Encouraging their attendance is important and this is best done through Saturday and Sunday scheduling. Next year, with voting, we will need to start earlier.
Breakout sessions this year were plentiful and enticing. The suggestion was made to have two breakout opportunities next year or to present fewer choices.
Dismantling Racism – Reading Update
CCT members agreed on Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving as the first book for conference study. Preparations are being made: Bishop Hope has done a connections introduction, and Laura Dallas is working to create moderated online discussions. Bishop Hope asked all CCT members to moderate a discussion about one of the books on the reading list in their own churches.
Effective Leadership & Healthy Congregations
Connectional Ministries staff are combining the best of three successful congregational vitality processes to create a new one designed for rural churches and beyond. The new process is being developed from our experience with Disciple-Making Way based on Traveling Together by Jeffrey Jones, SHIFT based on Phil Maynard’s work, and Project Bountiful.
Staff have presented the process to the Cabinet, and developed a first-year plan. Their hope is for 12 churches to participate, working internally in one district with the district superintendent and the mission strategist. They are planning for co-leaders from different ethnic groups to work alongside staff toward the goal of raising up coaches within our conference.
Other events include:
• Discernment Day for Certified Lay Ministers (CLM) was held July 21. Certified Lay Ministers go through very rigorous training. Connectional Ministries staff are working to place Hispanic/Latino Lay Missioners into the Lay Minister program. The barrier is the translation of materials but staff believe they’ve found a way to make this translation go faster.
• The Conference Board of Laity is offering an opportunity for lay and clergy leaders across the conference to create systems of intentional discipleship formation, or to improve on an existing one. The event will be led by Dr. Phil Maynard, author of the SHIFT program. The August event will be offered in four locations across the conference. Registration is required. The cost is $10 per person and includes lunch.
• Connectional Ministries is working with New Faith Communities to connect anchor churches with other communities as a way of partnering churches.
• In January, Steve James led a Train-the-Trainer event in the Harbor district; in August, staff will work with Pine Valley UMC to deploy that training.
• A suggested meeting plan for CCT team members and committee chairs was offered for discussion, featuring physical and video check-in meetings throughout the year. The goal is to provide ongoing support for committee chairs as they create goals that align with conference emphases, go through their budgeting process, and make discriminating decisions based on what’s working and what is not.
Children and Congregations for Children
At this point, 82% of our conference churches have some sort of partnership with neighboring public schools. We extend thanks to Pat Litzinger who has done magnificent work. Over the next year, Pat will be training Karen Check, one of our newest Deaconesses. She will assist Pat in leadership.
The next CCT meeting is August 21.