At least two of the questions in the Call to Action survey relate directly to changes taking place within the California-Nevada Annual Conference.
35.4% of respondents "agreed" and even more (38.7%) "strongly agreed" with the statement, "The adaptive challenge for the UMC is to redirect the flow of attention, energy, and resources to an intense concentration on an increase in the number of vital congregations."
And 55% agreed "strongly" and 33.4% agreed that, "We need fresh ways and changed guidelines in order to coordinate work between congregations, district committees, boards of ordained ministry, seminaries, and the bishop and cabinet."
Here in California-Nevada work already is underway to redirect the flow of attention, energy, and resources to concentrate on increasing the number of vital congregations. This has included, among other things, providing workshops with Bishop Robert Schnase, author of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, and trainer Doug Anderson – and we will have more to report about this ongoing effort in coming weeks.
The Cabinet, meanwhile, has approached its own structure with a fresh eye, with the result that the term itself ("Cabinet") has taken on new meaning.
In actuality, the traditional concept – that "Cabinet" consists of the bishop and district superintendents – now applies only when appointive (personnel) matters are being discussed and decided. The other business of the Cabinet – programmatic in nature, including long-range visioning – today is conducted by an "extended" or "program" Cabinet consisting of the bishop, district and Conference superintendents, Conference Lay Leaders, and the Conference treasurer.
Nearly two years ago, the Rev. Ted Virts was appointed the first Conference Superintendent, with a focus on leadership development and supervising the transition into clergy circuits and a central administration center for district offices. There are plans to hire a Superintendent for Congregational Development, as well.
To further aid the process of facilitating the coordination of work between congregations, boards, agencies, and committees, and the bishop and Cabinet, the Rev. Linda Caldwell, who has served as Director of Connectional Ministries since 1999, has been named Conference Superintendent for Mission Collaboration – a position which encompasses her work as DCM but includes additional duties related to mission alignment.
Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., Cal-Nevada resident bishop, says the "bottom line goal" is not to come up with clever names, but to model real change – and to behave differently. "If we behave differently and aren't clear about why, it's confusing," he says. "We need to not only behave differently but also name and define it."
The Conference Superintendent for Mission Collaboration falls under the supervision of the bishop rather than the Conference Council on Ministries (CCOM) as did the DCM. At its February 5, 2011 meeting, CCOM affirmed the change in Caldwell's title and responsibilities, laid hands on her, and prayed for her work in the new position.