Two Motions Pass in Strategic Mapping Vote
By Lindsay Peyton
Strategic mapping helps the conference stay aligned with its mission. In addition to considering the budget, the process allows for greater clarity and focus.
Bishop Scott Jones explained in his keynote that, in the year ahead, strengthening Hispanic and African American congregations is a top priority. In the next few days, he will send letters to African American churches to discuss opportunities. At the same time, the conference will examine ways to strengthen Latino congregations.
Jones said other key objectives include promoting the “We Love All God’s Children” initiative and improving the development of lay leadership.
With these priorities in motion, the conference has been searching for ways to direct its limited financial resources and still meet a myriad of goals.
The strategic mapping team presented recommendations for a vote, and two of the motions passed.
The first approved motion involves combining five center directors and assistant to the Bishop position into a total of five senior staff positions. This would be effective in July and save the conference an estimated $300,000.
Tommy Williams, minister of St. Paul’s UMC and member of the strategic mapping team, explained that this decision follows a precedent in the conference. He explained that redirecting funds in this manner allows ministry to be closer to the ground.
“This is an important move for the sake of our mission,” he said. “It’s good stewardship.”
Pastor Romanica Wardley-Malone of Blueridge UMC and also a member of the strategic mapping team presented the proposal to keep all elected leaders in their post for an extra year before bringing forward any proposed changes. The motion also passed.
Wardley-Malone explained that the measure would allow for greater efficiency. Diversity in the committees would remain integral, she added.
The recommendation for redrawing district boundaries from four to three for a potential savings of $300,000 did not pass.
Voters also were against an evaluation of campus ministries and study concerning how local churches and community groups could make some ministries self-sustaining.
The Rev. B.T. Williamson, assistant to the Bishop and member of the strategic mapping team, said that one of the key goals this year is to continue looking forward. Everyone agreed that the work needed to continue, and the team will return to make recommendations for 2020 – to set new missions, prepare new organization charts and conduct stakeholder visits.
“We want our local congregations to engage,” he said. “We can take the proposals we’ve been working on and get the details, flesh them out more.”
He explained that conducting visits and presentations in each of districts will be key. “We want to engage in dialogue with as many as possible,” he said.
Continued discussions and online surveys over the summer and fall of 2019 will better prepare the districts for decision making at their annual meetings.
Williamson explained that the strategic mapping process began in 2005, and the recommendations that resulted were documented as “Bound for Greater Things: Building Our Future Together.”
In addition, planning called for the creation of four Centers of Excellence, as well as redrawing district lines.
Strategic mapping evaluations were held again in 2011. “Out of that we identified three major areas of emphasis: growing vibrant congregations, developing leadership both lay and clergy and investing in the young,” Williamson said.
While programs have changed over time, those principles have remained guiding lights, Williamson said.
At the third strategic mapping session, which was launched at the 2018 Annual Conference session, delegates authorized a yearlong evaluation of efficiency. That effort resulted in the recommendations made at the 2019 conference.
Needs and leadership evolve with time, Williamson explained. Missions change.
“All of those dynamics come into play when you’re rethinking your vision, purpose and mission for ministry,” he said.
Williamson said that stakeholders will be invited soon to express their priorities. “The next step is organizing visits and listening groups for feedback,” he said.