“Behold, I am making all things new” was the theme as 60-plus clergy recently gathered at Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center for a four-day intensive designed to help young clergy do new things in their ministry and churches in order to reach the continually growing population of the North Georgia area.
The event was sponsored by the Office of New Church Development and is a part of the comprehensive, conference-wide strategy to grow our North Georgia membership by a minimum rate of the general population growth of North Georgia. Currently, our conference membership grows annually by an average of 1.5 percent, while the general population growth is closer to 2.5 percent.
“All Things New” was designed to allow young clergy who have been nominated by their District Superintendent to begin a discernment process that will assist our conference in identifying, training and deploying people with specific gifts and graces to do “new things” to reach new people in our North Georgia mission field. The four days were lead by Tommy Willingham, Director of New Church Development, and a team of seasoned clergy from our annual conference. Participants learned how ways of visioning, team building, strategically developing a congregational plan to purposefully reach the mission field, and other dynamics involved in creating new things to reach new people, can assist them in their current and future ministry roles in our conference. Along with putting some “new tools in their tool box,” All Things New is also designed as a discernment process for young clergy to identify, claim, and examine their unique gifts and graces for future ministry settings.
This month, 65 north Georgia clergy and lay persons will be trained to be assessors, with the bishop’s cabinet being among those being trained. In January and early February, the participants of All Things New will be formally assessed by teams of three in order to deepen their portfolio and give a better understanding of who we have among our young clergy that may have unique gifts to lead the initiatives being prioritized by our District Strategic Growth Teams and Cabinet. “Hopefully,” Willingham said, “this will give us another level of depth to help ensure we get the right people in the right places in order to carry out our bishop’s charge to grow at the rate of the general population of North Georgia.”