Conference Staff Realignment Focuses on Expanding Mission Field

Date Posted: 4/27/2017

New appointments are bringing new faces to the Texas Annual Conference staff, along with new perspectives in several modified positions of leadership.
 
As Rev. Artie Cadar moves from serving as pastor of Houston Crossroads to a new position in the conference office as Coordinator of Mission Field Development, he is part of a mission-driven strategy that has been unfolding over the last decade. “Across the Texas Conference, communities are rapidly expanding in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural sense,” he observes, “but also becoming more distant from the church, and ultimately, from God. As United Methodists, we have a tremendous opportunity to minister to these communities. The world is (still) our parish, and the world is here within the boundaries of the TAC.” Adds Artie, “This is why now, more than ever, we need to equip congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world to the glory of God.
 
Rev. Diane McGehee’s appointment to serve as senior pastor of Bering UMC and Rev. Scott Moore’s appointment to the role of Director of Missional Excellence is a part of this transition to viewing mission and mission field in a slightly different and expanded way. “Some may think I have purposefully worked myself out of a job by moving Hispanic ministries into the Center for Congregational Excellence. I am excited about this realignment because Hispanic ministry is not an area of mission but rather a growing part of our congregations. This change allows us to help the local congregations become more missionally relevant in light of the quickly changing demographics of Texas.” Adds Diane, “I am also excited to see Hispanic leadership at the conference office and throughout the conference.”
 
Building A Reputation for Innovative Conference Leadership
“The evolving conference organization shows -- in tangible ways -- the seriousness with which the TAC approaches issues directly related to congregational health and vitality,” shares Dr. Jesse Brannen, Director of the Center for Congregational Excellence. “All of the realignments are being undertaken so that the Centers can better serve the churches of the TAC.”
 
Diane is excited to be a part of orchestrating this realignment within a conference that has a reputation for impactful new initiatives. “I am leaving because I believe that God has called me to pass this work on to others and to return to the local church.”  She has shared with other conferences on many occasions what the TAC is doing. “I know other conferences are watching us on many fronts,” adds Diane. “Not only have we created the Emerging Leader program to recruit younger clergy for future opportunities, we have been grooming new leaders through the Hispanic Apprenticeship program and will commission eight Hispanic certified candidates into congregations in this appointment season,” she says. “Additionally, we have partnered with the Houston Immigration Collaborative to host a series of nine clinics and we are expanding the focus of our Mission Center in Conroe to provide training for congregations seeking greater missional engagement beyond disaster relief.”
 
What’s Next in the Center for Missional Excellence?
The staff changes that take place this summer will also streamline the focus of the Center for Missional Excellence to empowerment and advocacy related issues in areas including foster care, homelessness, immigration and refugees and human trafficking – and the TAC’s longstanding tradition of disaster relief.
The Mission Center’s disaster supply warehouse will continue to be used to enhance disaster response work in terms of staging, training and deployment.
 
“In an effort to provide the highest quality of service to our local churches and to leverage the capabilities of the Mission Center in Conroe, the Texas Annual Conference is relocating the Center for Missional Excellence to Conroe.,” Scott explains. “This will allow all of our missions personnel to office in one location and to share information and resources as they equip and empower our local congregations in their mission efforts. The TAC Mission Center will serve as the hub for everything that the conference does in its various mission efforts. “
 
Notes Scott, “I'm very excited to take on these new responsibilities and roles as I continue to oversee TAC Disaster Ministries.  The philosophies and methodologies that we have adopted for our disaster relief and recovery efforts are already based on the 50/50 In Mission Together model that we are encouraging all of our local churches to embrace. I plan to use what we have learned in Disaster Ministries as a model for wider missional engagement. “
 
The Mission Center can host on-site -- or bring to the local churches -- any number of trainings including:

  • Connecting Neighbors Church Training for Disaster Preparedness
  • Early Response Team Disaster Training (next class is May 6 at Good Shepherd UMC in Houston)
  • 50/50 In Mission Together (April 29 at Mission Center)
  • UMVIM Team Leader Training
  • ERT 200-level Advanced Disaster Trainings
 
“It's part of our Wesleyan heritage to be advocates for justice issues and empower others through missional engagement,” Diane adds. “The TAC Mission Center in Conroe is a geographically desirable hub to teach basic skills in advocacy as well as in our 50/50 empowerment model that teaches us to do ministry with others rather than for others.” Evangelism training is also being planned to help individuals and churches share their faith story in their respective communities.
 
Missionally Relevant Congregations
 “I am most excited about the great potential that we have in the TAC for congregational transformation and growth in the mission field,” adds Artie, stating that Hispanic church membership in the Texas Annual Conference has increased by 50% over the last 10 years.  “By 2020, 50% of the population across our districts will be Hispanic,” he adds, “and that tells us that if we are going to achieve congregational excellence in our local churches, we have to be more intentional about reaching, welcoming and discipling this cultural segment of our mission field. The Texas Annual Conference is committed to connecting with the Hispanic community through relevant initiatives that respond to the spiritual and social needs of the ever-increasing multi-ethnic population that surrounds us.”
 
Repositioning Hispanic Ministries to the Center for Congregational Excellence allows the conference to identify more church growth opportunities by engaging in ministry with Hispanics and other cultures in both, new spaces, and existing local churches. Hispanic Ministries will also work closely with Congregational Excellence and the Center for Clergy Excellence to develop programs that concentrate on training both clergy and laity to be fruitful in doing ministry in a multi-cultural setting.
 
‪ ”God has been raising up leaders in recent years and there is a sense of readiness for these new areas of emphasis,” adds Diane. “I have been working with Scott and Artie for years, and it is exciting to become more diverse and missionally relevant as a conference.” In much the same way, Artie is looking forward to getting settled into his new position within The Center for Congregational Excellence. “This Center is eager to partner with local congregations that are willing to be trained and coached to adjust and align their missional work with the spiritual and social needs of our changing communities. Church revival awaits us, and that’s pretty exciting!”