Your Input Needed: Considering the Structure of Conference Boards and Committees

2/18/2021

Please read the letter to you below from Rev. Hal Jones, Nate Abrams, and Rev Steven Usry.
In it, they invite you to take a brief survey and email them about your personal experiences.

North Georgia Conference Laity and Clergy,

For the past several weeks, Nate Abrams, Steven Usry and I have been engaged in a conversation about how the various committees, boards, commissions and advocacy groups across our North Georgia Conference are organized, how they carry out their work and ministry, and whether or not restructuring on some fronts might increase effectiveness on all fronts.  

Steven, Lead Pastor at Sugarloaf UMC in the Central East District, is the Chair of our NGUMC Board of Congregational Development, and a leader of the new Barnes Fund team launched by the vote taken during August’s Annual Conference. Nate, a lay member at Bethany UMC, Smyrna in our Central West District, is the Chair of our NGUMC Board of Discipleship and Advocacy, and is also a leader on the new Barnes Fund team. Since July, I have served as our Conference Director of Connectional Ministries; and as I’ve told both Nate and Steven, I work for them and for all of you.  

During the conversations we’ve been having, Steven, Nate, and I have talked about the paradigm and the various, sometimes intersecting missions that shape the work and ministry of all these groups in our NGUMC structure. We’ve talked about and expressed pride in the accomplishments of these groups; and we’ve shared excitement about identifying and leveraging potential streams of untapped collaboration and coordination between and among these groups—collaboration and coordination that might deepen and expand the reach of all these groups across our Conference and in service to our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

We’ve also talked about the values that shape our NGUMC structure, and that shape the work and ministries of all the committees, commission, boards, and advocacy teams in that structure. And, we’ve talked about the values that shape the work of those of us whose job it is to support those groups and to support all of you. We’ve shared what we’ve learned from other laity and clergy through similar conversations; and we’ve identified a set of values that have been consistently named during those conversations, values we aspire to regardless of group or role:
  • transparency
  • inclusion and diversity
  • access and engagement
  • clarity about structure
  • clarity about the role and mission of each group in our Conference structure
  • clarity about how each group’s role and mission is carried out, for example regarding the distribution of grants and other support to our NGUMC churches, laity, and clergy
  • clarity about the role of conference staff in serving and supporting laity and clergy members of these groups, as these groups serve churches and their communities across our NGUMC 
All of these conversations have been shaped by our shared love of, and gratitude for, our United Methodist Church and the redemptive work and ministry done through our connectional system. They have also been shaped by our shared understanding that we still have much work and ministry to do, and by the energy we each have for helping to accomplish that work and ministry. It is out of that spirit that we invite you to join us in this conversation.

We know there are countless times when we, as the NGUMC, have hit the mark regarding the values we aspire to in shaping our work and ministries. Your church newsletters and bulletins, our District Newsletters, and our NGUMC website are just a few of the many vehicles highlighting examples of profound ministries and accomplishments across our Conference—ministries and accomplishments that embody those values. We also know, though, there may be times when we miss that mark; and we’d like your help in identifying and talking further about when we, as the NGUMC, have hit that mark, and when we, as the NGUMC, might have missed that mark.

The link below will take you to a brief survey aimed at inviting your feedback regarding our NGUMC structure and the values shaping our structure. The survey has only 5 items and it shouldn’t take you more than 5-10 minutes to complete:

BEGIN SURVEY

We’d also like for you to email us a story, if you have one and are willing to share it with Nate, Steven, and me, of a time when your experience on or with one of the groups in our NGUMC structure reflected the values we aspire to in our work and ministry. You can email us a written story or a video of you telling the story. And, we’d like for you to email us a story, if you have one and are willing to share it with Nate, Steven and me, of a time when your experience on or with one of the groups in our NGUMC structure might not have reflected the values we aspire to in our work and ministry. And again, you can email us a written story or a video of you telling the story. (Email your written or video stories to hal.jones@ngumc.net.)

Steven, Nate, and I will be the only ones reading or watching the videos of your stories. Our plan is to identify themes that emerge in the stories you send. We’ll share those themes with clergy and laity across our NGUMC, but not any of the stories, comments in the stories, or who sent the stories.

After receiving and reviewing the survey results and stories we receive, we’ll circle back with all of you in another communication to share those survey results and the themes that surfaced in the stories we receive.

We’re grateful for all of you and for all of your ministries, and we’re grateful for your help as we continue this conversation. Our aim is to work with you to continuously assess, build on and improve our effectiveness in supporting the ministries of our North Georgia Conference.

Nate, Steven, and Hal

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