Academy for Leadership and Innovation


2022-2023 Leadership & Innovation Academy

Offered by the Office of Congregational Excellence under the leadership of
​Dr. Richard Hunter, Associate Director

About the 2022-2023 Academy

  • Academy gatherings will start in late August.
  • We will make monthly visits to innovative churches and ministries in North Georgia.
  • We will also travel as a group to Exponential 2023 in February, a worldwide gathering of church innovators and planters.
  • The Academy is open to all laity and clergy who are interested in or sense a call to start new faith communities and innovative ministries.

For more information, contact


Goals for this academy and the participants:

  • to expand the pipeline of church planters, innovators and creative leaders to start and sustain new faith gatherings & communities across North Georgia
  • focus on leaders under 45 (yet everyone with an innovative spirit is welcome!)
  • all participants will complete the Path 1/MissionInsite assessment
  • include a mix of laity and pastors
  • offer the group a progression of experiences to enable their vision for starting new places in their community to reach those beyond the local church


The Academy fee is $800 per person. (Registration is $400. Churches and/or districts are encouraged to offer a $400 scholarship. We can provide a scholarship letter to give your church and/or district.)

Academy Gatherings & Topics

{each gathering is from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.}

August 25           
Opening Gathering: Pastoral Innovation for Our New Day
General Board of Global Ministries Headquarters,  Atlanta 
(new campus site of Cascade UMC @ Midtown)
Speaker:  Dr. Phil Schroeder
Host: Theneisha Dixon, Cascade @ Midtown

September 27   
Restarting a Church for Missional Impact

Chicopee UMC, Gainesville
Hosts & Speakers: Rev. Bryan Smith & Rev. Justin Arnold
Afternoon session: Rev. Lindsay Geist, “Personal Care of a Faith Community Leader”

October 21-22   
Better Together Conference at St. James UMC, Alpharetta & Northbrook UMC
Speaker:  Dr Jim Tomberlin
(Academy members will receive tickets to this conference.)

November 29    
Building Leadership Teams for the 21st Century Church

Simpsonwood UMC, Norcross  +  Host: Rev. Susan Allen Grady
Speaker: Dr Bryan Sims, author of Leading Together
(Academy members should complete Path 1 assessment tools by November 10)

January 17          
“Reaching the Nones & Dones
Oconee Street UMC, Athens Georgia
Host/Speaker: Rev. Laura Patterson
Afternoon:  Rev. Brian Tillman teaches on being a church of racial justice and healing

February 16       
A Strategic Merger Up Close
Fayette Friendship Community Church, a UM congregation in Fayetteville, Ga.
Rev. Dave Adamson, host pastor and speaker

March 6-9           
Exponential 2023 Orlando
Academy members will have group accommodations at the Avanti Hotel.

April 18                
Creating Sacred Spaces in Digital Places
Speaker:  Rev. Jessica Blackwood
Host Church:  Ousley UMC, Lithonia        

May 16                
Fresh Expressions of Church: Cultivator
Cartersville, Ga.
Speakers:  Rev. Heather Jallad and Rev. Jacob Burson
 Closing Session of Academy @ noon


Information on the 2023-2024 Academy will be posted here in early 2023.