TAC Missions Committee Update: Kick-Starting Exciting New Opportunities

Date Posted: 4/24/2014

For 2014, the TAC Missions Committee is planning a Fall “listening tour,” leadership training, and missional grants to new applicants as the Texas Annual Conference collectively focuses on making and equipping disciples. Read how this committee is using its resources to develop and promote new missional relationships while enhancing existing ones.
Heartwarming stories abound when the TAC Missions Committee gathers around the table. “Thanks to the expanded grant program through the TAC Missions Committee, my congregation at Montgomery UMC was able to send a team to Costa Rica for the first time last year, Atascocita UMC is sending a team for the first time to Bolivia, Sunset UMC is sending its youth to Four Corners for the first tme, and First UMC, Lufkin, also has a wonderful Haiti missions story unfolding,” shares Rev. Lindsay Kirkpatrick, who serves as the committee chair.  “Since the committee reorganization was approved at last annual conference, we have worked to give money to a larger number of churches – with great excitement -- in hopes that that seed money would kick start ministries that would be sustainable for the long term through ongoing, discipling relationships.”
Lindsay continues, “Being missional is essential to vibrancy, so we are thrilled to see churches of all sizes getting grants for everything from prison ministry to school partnerships.”
The committee summarizes its 3-fold purpose for existence as helping to 1) inspire, 2) educate and 3) equip the local church to engage in ongoing missional relationships that meet community needs, starting first within their own neighborhoods. “Every church that requested financial assistance for 2014 got it,” declares Rev. Diane McGehee, Director of the TAC Center for Missional Excellence. “While grants will continue to help launch new missional relationships and help existing ones move toward self-sufficiency, the committee is focusing on training for missional living and discipleship that is relational and transformative of the whole person as well as the community. Grants will be used to help launch relational outreach opportunities with a goal that the launching groups will take responsibility for that ongoing work within three-to-five years, so that TAC can help other churches start new initiatives and thus expand our circle of grace.”
ADVANCE SPECIAL Recommendation: ZOE Ministries
When it comes to ministry work that facilitates empowerment, the TAC Missions Committee is spotlighting ZOE Ministries as a best practice organization modeling this effectively. The committee is requesting that the Annual Conference approve ZOE Ministries as the 2015 Advance Special. ZOE, a program approved by the UMC and headed by UMC Elder Gaston Warner, moves communities of AIDS orphans in Africa and beyond from dependency to self-sustainability within five years from launch. The TAC Missions Committee will be offering a conference-wide pilgrimage in early 2015 with two representatives from each district (via application process) to travel to Africa to study and learn from this model. “We then hope to implement what we have learned in other contexts, with appropriate cultural adjustments, as together we learn to move more fully into life and community empowerment mission,” emphasizes Lindsay.
The TAC Missions Committee is bringing these and other innovative initiatives to the 2014 Annual Conference:
Listening tour
“The TAC Missions Committee has organized the budget in such a way that it has funds designated for missions geared to meet local needs, as well as global missions, and training,” adds Diane, “Our training research will begin with our listening sessions throughout the districts this fall.” Committee representatives will interact with local church members to ask their thoughts about what is needed to equip them to live into new, transformative missional engagement, and then develop training based on the responses received. 
Annual Conference “Come, Tell and Learn”
“Delegates and conference attendees will have access to a wide array of helpful missional resources at Conference this May to help them continue and expand their impact in local and global communities,” continues Diane. “There will be 19 display tables on the second floor of the Hilton with resources to help churches effectively address issues they typically encounter in their communities – from homelessness to human trafficking  - in ways that honor the dignity of residents while inviting them into a relationship.”
Impacting lives through preschools, elementary art and college student support
Back by popular demand, the Laity Lunch will return to the Conference schedule and will focus on the impact that can be accomplished by working in schools. Lunch attendees will be encouraged as they hear stories of the life changing impact of quality preschool attendance, particularly for economically disadvantaged students. “The Board of Laity is excited to feature Rev. Diane McGehee as the guest speaker and ‘Hearts A Fire Praise Band’ from the Stephen F. Austin Wesley Center in Nacogdoches as the musical program,” reports Lay Leader Stephanie Griffin. “Part of being a vibrant church is seeing the world through the eyes of Christ.  Diane will be speaking to us about Conference opportunities and encouraging laity to look in their own communities to identify places we can build bridges that connect people to the love and grace of Jesus Christ.” Session leaders will also introduce attendees to a heartwarming exhibit from the Art Project, Houston, which is helping overcome the barriers between elementary students and the homeless. Part of the event will also spotlight the growing problem of poverty among the college students and how conference churches and individuals can effectively help.
Operation Birthday Bags
Annual Conference is also a time when delegates and attendees come together to impact a human need in a Texas-sized manner. “It is hard to imagine, but birthdays often go unnoticed among the many families that struggle to keep food of any sort on the table for their family,” says Missional Excellence Administrative Assistant Shirley Broome. “Our conference can help change that. The Texas Annual Conference is collaborating with three major food banks across Texas to provide small birthday bags to give to their clients when one of their children has a birthday. Join with us to make a memory by putting together bags that include some of the items suggested below and bringing them with you to Houston.” See what to pack in your birthday bag and where to take it when you get to Conference. The conference will add a scripture and information to let the child know that the United Methodist Church provided the gift.

“Vital congregations are those churches effectively engaged in life-giving relationships within their local and global communities in ways that honor the worth of every human being as made in the image of God and welcome at the table of God’s grace,” declares Diane. “Through such relationships, we discover ways together to address the issues of poverty, injustice and other challenges, so that we help bring the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that all delegates and others who attend will feel better equipped to build those kinds of relationships by the time they return to their home churches.”

Mission Trees
Several of the walls of the main gathering room at Conference will feature a creative ministry focal point designed to look like trees. These mission trees allow you to share with others about your ministry. Learn More