Conference Clergy team re-examines ways to Wesley-ize ministry

April 11, 2007

If we really believe we can deepen our relationship with Christ, how do our lives reflect this? Do we have a plan to develop and reach new disciples? Are we building teams of leaders to accomplish this vision? Is there a sense among clergy that good intentions are enough, and is it unnecessary to hold them accountable for reaching more people in our community? And how do clergy remain accountable to themselves?

Those were a few of the questions members of California-Nevada Conference considered at the recent Bishops’ Residency Conference in Nashville, TN. The purpose of the conference was to engage in the distinctively Wesleyan practice of Christian Conferencing with the hope of strengthening the foundation of probationers as they begin their ministry. The event was co-sponsored by the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church and the Tennessee Annual Conference.

120 probationers from 19 annual conferences of the United Methodist Church and international representatives from the United Kingdom gathered along with Episcopal and equivalent leadership at Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee March 26-29.

Kathryn Dunning, Cynthia Stateman, Hyesung Kang, Mark Cordes, Denise Leslie and Kim Risedorph represented the Cal-Nevada Conference.

Several ideas emerged from plenaries and discussions, including one step toward developing a vision for our churches – what if United Methodists asked the following at every committee/activity/event: “We are doing (fill in the blank)____________ so that ___________.” Continual exploration of our purpose will bring it into focus.

The Episcopal leaders at the retreat, retired Bishop Joe Pennel, Bishop Ann Brookshire Sherer from the Nebraska Episcopal area, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, Mississippi Episcopal area, and Gregory Palmer from the Iowa Episcopal area shared their own daily, spiritual practices. They encouraged participants to be part of accountability groups where all can grow in acts of compassion, devotion, justice and worship.

To learn more about the event and how the ideas can be utilized in Cal-Nevada, feel free to contact any of the participants for more details.