Expanding our opportunities to grow as disciples


   Serving with you in this great North Georgia Conference is always invigorating as God continues to call us toward a future filled with hope and high expectations. Great challenges always offer great opportunities to serve our Lord. 
      Recent conversations within the Cabinet, the Conference Connectional Table, the Leadership UMC class, the staff of the United Methodist Center, and others have included some exciting possibilities for our conference missions and ministries. Here are some areas that offer rich opportunities for us to grow as disciples of Christ:
* renewing our emphasis on spiritual practices and disciplines;
* establishing dynamic sub-groups of congregations within each district;
* seeking increased efficiency and effectiveness within our Conference staff;
* cultivating winsome, intentional and evangelistic Christian witness among our clergy and laity;
* building more mission and ministry bridges to our world parish in Asia (Philippines), Africa (East Africa Annual Conference), the Caribbean (the Bahamas), Eastern Europe (Russia), Latin America (El Salvador), the Middle East (Israel), Western Europe (Portugal), our State of Georgia (Action Ministries), and throughout the world (World Methodist Evangelism);
    * invigorating our children and youth Ministries, including camping and campus ministries;
    * jointly engaging in two or three significant areas of local and global social involvement;
    * increasing the number of Vital Congregations in every language and ethnic group among us;
    * strengthening the lay/clergy partnership;
    * constantly identifying new lay leadership;
    * constantly seeking the most effective candidates to meet the identified clergy needs of the conference;
    *  teaching the United Methodist way of Christian living to our communities (such as connectionalism and apportioned connectional giving; the view of the world as our parish; our general rules; our quadrilateral approach to theology based on scripture, tradition, reason and experience; our stressing both personal and social holiness; the importance of warm hearts and educated minds; evangelical witnessing; holy conferencing; Episcopal polity with a superintended itineracy; and lay and clergy partnership).
        In response to the assignment given to me at our last Annual Conference regarding Methodist Center staffing: first of all, I am eliminating the position of my Executive Assistant. Jamie Jenkins, who is currently in that position plans to retire at the 2013 conference session. During this upcoming conference year he will assist me in restructuring the Office of New Church Development, the Office of Communications and the Office of Pensions and Benefits.
    Tommy Willingham, currently Director of New Church Development, will be receiving an appointment to a local church at this session of the Annual Conference. Mike Selleck, our Director of Connectional Ministries, Keith Cox, our Director of Administrative Services, and I will assume additional supervisory responsibilities affording immediate and significant financial savings to the conference. 
    God continues to call us to faithfulness in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Let us continue to answer God's call in ever more efficient and effective ways as good stewards of the many blessings we have received from God's gracious hand. 
     Mike Watson is Resident Bishop of the North Georgia Episcopal Area
of The United Methodist Church.