Georgia Pastors' School Invites Clergy to Consider the 'Inside Out Church'


Bishop's Panel at Georgia Pastors' School with Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and Bishop Lawson Bryan. Moderated by Rev. Matt Nelson. (Photo courtesy of the South Georgia Annual Conference)


For many years, hundreds of active and retired clergy have convened near the banks of historic Frederica River at Epworth By The Sea for the annual Georgia Pastors’ School. Pastors’ School provides inspiration, education, worship, fellowship, fun and relaxation for North and South Georgia clergy and their families.
This year’s theme "Inside Out Church - Engaging Your Community in Mission" challenged clergy to rethink the boundaries of the church and to go out into the community. The hope is to imitate Jesus and John Wesley and reach out to the “nones” and “dones” with a different approach than the traditional evangelism and proselytizing. 

Clergy left with a repository of free resources from the week, accessible to all, at

'Incredible Lineup of Speakers'
Staff from the General Board of Global Ministries, including top executive Thomas Kemper, were among the speakers throughout the event. The Global Ministries team started with a big picture of global missions and ended with what clergy can do within their own community. 
Each speaker touched on ways to get involved in the community. (Their presentations are among the resources posted on the Pastors' School website.)

George Howard, Director of Connectional Engagement Global Ministries, spoke on the "three-self movement," the Wesleyan Tradition, and the UMC Africa Model.
Rev. Dr. Rodrigo Cruz from The Nett Church in North Georgia spoke on "nations experiencing transformation together." He took lessons from the church in Antioch and used those to form a missiological framework. He says “Christianity is not about what we say inside of our building… but about what we do outside of it”. In a nutshell, at The Nett, the church has left the building.
Rev. Dr. Amy Valdez Barker, Executive Director of Global Mission Connections Unit, says partnering in mission begins with trust and is strengthened in mutuality. In order for this partnership to work, you must have a shared vision, shared responsibility, shared sensitivity, shared vulnerability, shared resources, shared power, and shared accountability.
Rev. Russell Pierce, Executive Director for Mission Engagement and the Director of The Advance, gave an inspiring presentation on the "intersection of missions." Pierce says the best way to partner with your community is through people resources, facility resources, and financial resources. People resources are YOU. Your gifts, your time, and your passions. Facility resources are all about location. Allow your space to be used and do something radical with your space. Finally, financial resources are about investing in your community beyond the ordinary or typical things.     
Donna Claycomb spoke on the difficult subject of being agents of change and "letting go." Claycomb prompts the question, “If your congregation were a petunia, how much agreement would there be in the congregation about which parts of your ministry or mission are the dying blossoms that need to be removed?”

“Pruning involves taking off not only dead, lifeless branches but also those stems that still have life but that may nevertheless inhibit the overall strength and production of the larger vine," she said.

Finally, Rev. Dr. Doug Powe, Director, Lewis Center for Church Leadership, challenged the clergy to think "outside in" rather than "inside out." He spoke about "missional discipleship." His approach requires us to move beyond our building, to be more than being willing to welcome people, to dialogue, to learn from and participate in the work of transformation with those in the community, to recognize that God is already at work in the community and join in, and it requires us to change how we think about what it means to be a church and disciples of Christ.

'We Need That'
Three years ago Rev. Scott Parrish pitched the idea for Georgia Pastors’ School to offer a global mission movement perspective. His vision was to translate the principles and practices for Georgia application, as a way to help churches come alive in their own communities.
“I wondered if we could offer a mix of bishops, mission leaders, and street-level mission practitioners to teach, preach, inspire and equip us. The dream was handed over to others and grew well beyond my imagination," said Parrish. "Such an incredible lineup of speakers! I'm thankful to the Georgia Pastors' School board of directors and our UMC Global Ministries for bringing this to life.”
Both Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson from North Georgia and Bishop Lawson Bryan from South Georgia attended Pastors' School and took part in a Bishop's Panel, answering questions and speaking from the heart. 
More than 420 active and retired United Methodist clergy and their families experience this combination of continuing education and personal renewal. Rev. Millie Kim, Dean of Pastors’ School 2018, says pastors’ school “is a time of fellowship, renewal, and learning.  We all need that! Here at Pastors School, clergy can be with their families and kill many birds with a stone!”
It’s important for clergy families to attend Pastors’ School, she said. “PKs and clergy spouses are in a unique situation,” says Kim, “and they have a chance to meet other PKs and clergy spouses and know that they are not alone.”
Planned by Georgia Clergy for Georgia Clergy
Georgia Pastors’ School is lead by the Board of Managers composed of 32 clergy: both bishops, a representative of each Bishop’s cabinet, a representative of each conference connectional ministries, and 13 at-large members of each conference. They meet three times a year to plan and manage the school. If you are interested in serving on the board, you are invited to contact Rev. Dr. Michael Stinson, Vice Chair of the Board, who is responsible for the nominations process. His email is

The school is funded primarily by tuition fees and support from both conferences either by budget or endowment.

Jessica Bradford is a Communications Specialist with the North Georgia Conference. Contact her at