VCI Coaching Role Inspires Retired Clergy
Leaving the pulpit does not mean leaving the ministry for several retired/retiring pastors who are discovering the opportunity to coach congregations in the Vibrant Church Initiative.
Although he is approaching retirement, District Superintendent Rev. Bill Taylor says, “In no way do I envision myself going out to pasture.” In fact, he adds, “After 43 years of active ministry, I feel as strongly now as ever to respond to God's call on my life by serving God's church. More than ever I believe that the church needs seasoned, balanced, wise men and women to guide and direct our most vital congregations.” In recent years, he has followed the Texas Annual Conference Vibrant Church Initiative closely as a member of the Cabinet and was marginally involved as the District Superintendent of the North District working with the churches and pastors in his district that enrolled in the process. Notes Bill, “My impression is that VCI can help a congregation reach its highest potential.”
Working with vital congregations as a coach will be Bill’s next ministry adventure, along with several other retired clergy who are excited to share their experience with a variety of churches in VCI. Rev. Mike Tyson, VCI Director says, “Not every person that serves a United Methodist Church has the gifts and graces to be a good VCI coach. However, it happens that Steve Wende, Chuck Simmons, Jim Bankston and Bill Taylor are all extraordinarily gifted for the role of VCI coach and each bring with them a vast array of experience to help the brothers and sisters they are in connection with to lead their churches through VCI. The beauty of using our retired pastors as VCI coaches is that as they work with VCI pastors and churches to enlarge the Kingdom of God, they maintain a great deal of flexibility to pursue whatever other activities they may choose in retirement. In addition, these “retired” coaches are capable of coaching more than one church at a time, whereas someone under full time appointment can only coach one VCI church at a time. God has sent these skilled and experienced pastors to the VCI process at a critical time when many churches are signing on to participate. I am grateful for their continued commitment to serve the Kingdom of God and I am excited to see how they will help pastors and churches going through the VCI process in the months and years ahead.”
Retirement is not really one of the words that Rev. Dr. Chuck Simmons, Memorial Drive UMC, uses very often. "Whenever mature parishioners used age as an excuse to drop out of church leadership, I always told them God doesn't have a retirement plan,” adds Chuck. “Knowing that applies to me now, after some rest, I'll be eager to find new ways and places to mentor pastors and to help congregations grow in faithfulness and service. It's the ministry God called me to that I still love. VCI creates a supportive partnership for Elders like me to use the practical knowledge and seasoned perspective garnered from decades of frontline experience to benefit younger colleagues and willing churches. I'm excited about it!"
Rev. Dr. Steve Wende, First UMC, Houston, and others will join these pastors at a VCI coach-training event this August. He, too, is excited about the opportunity to stay connected while helping others. “I love and believe in the United Methodist Church. However, I know that the mission field now for pastors and lay leaders is much tougher than when I started in ministry,” shares Steve. “VCI is a creative, efficient and effective way to help congregations deal with their challenges and maximize their opportunities. I am pleased to be part of this program because it allows me to give back to the Church which has given so much to me.”
Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston, who retired from St. Paul’s UMC, Houston a few years ago has been staying busy serving on various boards and as a VCI resource for churches holding a Day of Prayer and Repentance. He has recently agreed to serve as a coach, saying he is more than glad to share his 45 years of ministry with others in this expanded role. “I have served in suburban, rural and urban environments and even as a District Superintendent and I’m happy to go wherever the need is,” he says. “I am impressed how hard laity and clergy in the VCI process to date have worked to make this a significant time for the church and I am looking forward to the training later this summer and my first assignment as a coach. It will be an extra bonus to work with other retired clergy and stay active in the connection."
Adds North District Superintendent Bill Taylor, “I still have energy and enthusiasm and want to make a difference for God in the world. Following July 1, my calendar is relatively clear. I expect several weekends will be consumed by VCI as well as a number of days doing one-on-one coaching with pastors and churches. In addition to VCI coaching I hope to keep some contact with several younger clergy I've tried to mentor and support. Beyond this, I believe my schedule will be consumed with grandchildren, travel, photography, fly fishing and reading.”