Mountain Sky Conference: Where You Belong More
Thank you for partnering with us as we work together to create A Table for All. We are committed to our mission of manifesting the inclusive love and acceptance of Jesus Christ, creating a table where all are welcome throughout rural, suburban, and urban communities throughout the Mountain Sky Conference.
This document has been created to answer commonly asked questions about the program, accountability, funding, and resources. If you have any other questions not addressed in this document, please contact us for additional information.
The Congregational Vitality Committee, led by Jeff Rainwater, Superintendent of Congregational and Community Vitality, will walk through this process with the churches who are seeking support. This committee has been in existence, in different forms for the legacy conferences, for over 20 years. Currently the group of 11 nominated annually by the conference oversees conference strategy for revitalization and planting emerging faith communities, including the administration of over $300,000 in grants each year.
Determining if a church is ready to commit to the process of revitalization and restructuring will be done through a number of assessments including:
Readiness 360, paid for by the conference
Community Assessment, through Mission Insite
Financial Capability Audit, using financial records, Mission Insite, and participants database
Building Needs Audit for groups who retain their building
Space Available Audit for groups who have lost access to their facility
Interviews with Leaders, Stakeholders, and District Superintendent
We will review a variety of data and information to help us determine if this congregation will be a good fit for this program. This information includes:
Ability to adapt to new situation by a) assessing, b) considering cooperative endeavors with other churches, c) focusing on community efforts
Willingness to receive support in form of training, coaching, and cohort support
Understanding that financial support is a short-term endeavor (5 years)
Yes, we currently participate in some of these programs with congregations who need revitalization or help to live into their mission. We will use programs that we have already had success with so that we ensure that we are getting the best possible analysis of each situation. Other resources are in development. There might be resources that we need to develop as we move forward and identify a particular need that is not addressed.
After assessing a congregation’s complete situation, together with the congregation, we will work with the congregation’s leaders to create a recovery plan. This will include all recommendations of which programs will best support them in revitalization efforts.
We anticipate the assessment & determination phase of the recovery plan to last two to three months. Grant approval is based on church’s willingness to support the recovery plan they helped create. Some emergency funds may be needed to stabilize church during assessment & recovery plan formation.
Plans for recovery support, to a degree, will be individually crafted for each situation based on the potential of the community of faith determined by the settings. On this list we have included all our potential programs, including those not yet fully developed. Some of the offerings might include:
Lay Planter Training
Ministry Incubators – A program with coaching and cohort support for new ministry endeavors. Currently, Ministry Incubators is our support for emerging faith communities, and they provide a launching/visioning event (the Hatchathon), monthly coaching of the planting team, quarterly cohort support of best practices, and a pivot retreat six months after the Hatchathon for refining or adapting the ministry plan.
Intent now is for us to roll these projects into our current contract.
Cooperative Ministry Cohort - For churches that may have the potential of working with other churches nearby, we will encourage participation in a cooperative ministry cohort. We are launching a prototype of this, led by Paul Nixon, this summer for some churches in our area. Cooperative ministry and creative groupings of churches for ministry will be a key to sustainability for these and other congregations moving forward.
Right-Sizing Workshop – Looking at church budgets, staff, buildings, volunteer and discipling systems. This is a workshop I created for any church, but I think will be helpful with these congregation. This helps a congregation walk through their numbers and their building to see what is possible, then adjust.
Part-Time Licensed Local Pastors Training
Grief Support for Congregations
Check-ins and Partnership with Congregational Vitality Committee - Right now, every grant recipient is assigned a partner from the committee. This would continue for these projects. This person checks in, listens, and encourages the congregational leaders several times a year.
Meeting with Jeff – Meeting with lay leaders once a quarter with availability to help with trouble-shooting and additional support.
Congregational grants will vary based on need, but the committee has budgeted $5000/year for five years for lay-led congregations. Grants for clergy-led congregations could be up to $50,000/year initially with a gradual ramp-down over 5 years. Some of raised funds will go to supporting assessment, including Readiness 360 contract.
This is the tricky part, as this is not a one-size-fits-all project. Our assessments are showing that churches will more than likely leave piecemeal. Each congregation will have different needs and be at different levels. This is why we value an individual protocol for assessment and recovery plans and are not basing our efforts on an event or program. In addition, we will need to factor in losses from Covid.
The fund will be kept at the Methodists Helping Methodists Foundation (formerly the Mountain Sky Methodist Foundation). This Foundation was created in 1987 to support the United Methodist churches and agencies in Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and one county in Idaho.
The money is ultimately owned and controlled by the Annual Conference whose bylaws are established as per the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. The Articles of Incorporation are on file with the Colorado Secretary of State.
The charter document for the Endowment was approved at Annual Conference 2021 and can be found here: Emerging Faith Endowment Fund
The Foundation has a custodial role with the funds on deposit and provides oversight if any withdrawals are inappropriate and do not comply with the charter document. There are provisions in the charter document for exceptional withdrawals, which the Foundation will ensure are followed.
The charter document is a promise to the donors, and any violation would be subject to legal action by the donors or their heirs.