Wesleyan workshops piloted at Ebenezer-Conyers


 Throughout the fall of 2012, Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Conyers piloted a leadership workshop to ground church members and leaders in the foundations of Wesleyan thought and practice.  The workshops, which had participants from Ebenezer and other Atlanta Decatur Oxford District churches, were driven by the Rev. Mike Nikolich’s interpretation of the Methodist Vital Congregations program.  Specifically, he felt that Ebenezer should do something important to cultivate items 4-8 of the UMC 16 Key Strategies to a Vital Congregation.
 Lay leadership 
•        4. Vital churches focus on increasing the effectiveness of lay leaders (understand their role and carrying these roles out effectively). 
•        5. Vital churches have lay leaders who demonstrate a vital personal faith (regular worship, intentional spiritual growth, personal devotional life, and giving of financial resources). 
•        6. Vital churches place an emphasis on rotating lay leadership in order to involve more people over time. 
•        7. Vital churches call, equip, use and support more lay leaders than non-¬-vital churches. (Twenty percent or more of their worship attendees describe themselves as current or past leaders in their church). 
•        8. Vital pastors give attention to developing, coaching, and mentoring lay leadership to enable laity to increase their ability to carry out ministry.
      Reverend Nickolich reached out to Rev. Dr. Phil Schroeder in the Connectional Ministries office of North Georgia and developed a four-weekend set of lectures and workshops.  
Grace – Rev. Dr. Alice Rogers:  The Wesleyan paradigm of God's Grace (i.e., describing the nature and description of grace as Prevenient, Justifying, Sanctifying, and Perfecting)
Wesleyan Theology – Rev. Brian Germano:  Characteristics of a Wesleyan Spiritual Paradigm (the unique shape of Wesleyan theology and practice -- highlighting both the commonalities and differences with those in other Christian traditions)
Leadership  – Rev. Dr. Quincy Brown:  Leadership in the Wesleyan Spirit (including discussions of what biblical and Wesleyan leadership is, what it is not, and some of its characteristics; different leadership styles; a brief look at Vision; and overcoming challenges to effective leadership)
Church Polity – Rev. Dr. Tom Elliott:  "The United Methodist Way" (a discussion of our UM "connectional" system, overview of our Book of Discipline, the "itineracy", and the nature of our local church polity, including how it's different from, say, a Baptist or R. Catholic polity)
In addition to attending the workshops, participants were asked to read John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life by Charles Yrigoyen.  
     Participants were amazed at how much information they received and were blessed to learn many new things.  “Having been a Methodist for my 70 years of life, a Certified Lay Speaker, Congregation Lay Leader and many other functions, I thought I was well grounded in the basics.  Well, the four sessions held at Ebenezer surely exposed me to aspects I had missed.  One memorable of many, we start Genesis at Chapter 1.  Many others start at Chapter 3.  We all point to the same saving grace of Jesus, just a little different view. Please think about making these sessions available on a broad basis,” said Wes Taylor.  
        More than 25 people from three churches participated in one or more sessions.  Parishioners’ who completed all four classes were presented with certificates of completion and copies of Life and Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the recommendation of Rev. Dr. Tom Elliott as an example of how we should live in Christian community.