By Brant Mills, Director of Communications

I’m eight weeks into my new role as Director of Communications and it feels like coming home after being away for the last three years. I spent just shy of 14 years helping build this department, and as I’m settling in again, I have already noticed ways it feels different and new.

The first thing I noticed is how our Bishop, the Cabinet, and those on the Conference Leadership Team are approaching their call to lead. They have taken on the task of considering how to support local churches in ministry and how best to engage district and church leadership, laity and clergy, to truly understand and meet existing needs.

They are assessing the existing structure of the overall organization and asking the questions of how, what, and why, in order to work toward being truly effective, connectional, and supportive. Everything I’m seeing in the way they are going about this is with an eye toward transparency and what I would describe as intentionally ethical leadership. It is inspiring to see the way they approach their work. 

Our Assistant to the Bishop, The Rev. Romonica Malone-Wardley, has been working with conference and district leadership through the nominations process to establish conference committees through the next quadrennium. Conversations have centered around finding the best clergy and lay leadership whose gifts, graces, and experiences are suited to helping guide the TAC into an even brighter future together.

Cabinet members have expressed wanting to visit more churches across the conference as they are able. They know how disconnected some local churches feel, and if it were possible to have the capacity to show up on Sunday to every church to offer support and hear local needs, I believe they would absolutely be there. I have seen how much they genuinely care. They understand the challenges churches are confronting daily and are approaching every decision with thoughtful consideration.           

Additionally, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and the Cabinet of the Texas Annual Conference have recently committed to one another to show up in authentic ways. They are embracing “empathy and curiosity, integrity and agility, life-giving joy and life-changing purpose.” They have chosen these six values to guide our conversations, decisions, and culture as we seek to provide Spirit-led leadership for the Texas Annual Conference, congregations, and clergy who are making a Kingdom of God impact on the mission field.

To reinforce this, ahead of each meeting they are reflecting on the following statement:
As the cabinet for the Texas Annual Conference, UMC, we hold these values as we work together:

  • Authentic:  we show up with integrity and committed to honest conversations.
  • Purposeful:  we work with purpose on behalf of the mission fields, clergy and congregations.
    Our work together will be guided by Compassion, Curiosity, and Agility.

Finally, in conversations from across Methodism – mostly outside our conference, I’m noticing a common thread. There is this question of identity and people across the connection considering who we are now.

Instead of focusing on what we know, they seem to be looking “for the city that is to come.”

But we cannot wait for another vote as an excuse to delay the work that needs to be done, and what happened to us should not define us.

In an adjacent verse preceding the above quoted text, the author in Hebrews 13:8 notes that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” I posit that like Christ, both our identity – who we are – and our commission remain unchanged.

We are the church. We are the people of Christ; united in mission, united in love.

I’m excited about being back at the Texas Annual Conference and believe I’m in the right place. I also believe we have the right leadership for the right time. While there’s a lot of work ahead for all of us, it looks to me like we’re on the right path to engage in effective ministry together.

I note one of my favorite verses, Psalm 133: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Let us move forward together.