Part 2: Circuits renew local church relationship

February 27, 2018

March 3 District Gathering an experiment in virtual meeting across four states

“The Mountain Sky Area will re-ignite a Christian movement that begins with grace, offers abundant life, and reclaims the life-changing love of Jesus Christ for ALL people.”
Goal statement for the Mountain Sky Conference
Part 2 of an ongoing series focusing on the work of the Mission Shaped Future team to design a new conference that will focus on strengthening our local congregations.
Last time we talk about the need to make local, neighbor-to-neighbor connections focus of new the new conference. These connections are key to building the health of our local congregations.
Two ways we are already working to strengthen these connections is circuit-based charge conferences and an upcoming shared District Gathering (Conference) experience. Here, many laity and their clergy are getting to network together at regional events that strengthen the bonds of our connectional system. This past fall, we rolled out circuit charge conference in earnest for the first time as we follow the national trend. In other conferences the primary goal in creating group charge conference is to lessen the administrative burden that comes with planning and executing individual events. In our area, the primary factor was to help foster a renewed sense of connection between local churches, though the administrative savings were greatly appreciated by most. Leadership of each church didn’t have to spend time planning the logistics of an individual event, but instead could invest that time in being with, and learning from, others. 
Loween, a local church member in the Billings Montana Area shared, “I must admit, I was not excited about the new group charge conference experience...but I was wrong!
  • The attendance was better than expected
  • The worship service was meaningful and educational
  • We had the opportunity to brainstorm with someone from another congregation about ways we could do mission together
  • The business part of the evening was efficient and well organized.”

District Gathering will be an opportunity this spring for people to gather in a new and exciting way. On March 3, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., people will come together for a shared experience across multiple venues for an event open to anyone. Portions will be streamed live while others will be in person. Our theme will be “Mountain Movers: Cultivating Beloved Community” as we focus on the scripture Matthew 17:20. We are re-imagining district conference with an intentional focus on equipping local churches and circuits to make an impact in their local communities for the good news of the kingdom of God. What could be more important than that?
I have high expectations that these two events will strengthen the bond that holds together all the United Methodist churches in our area. I am also keenly aware that they will only be successful if we invest in doing them well and if people show up and participate. I pray everyone will take the opportunity to do so.