The Rocky Mountain Conference held its annual Leadership Summit on Sept. 27 at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch. About 120 people attended the workshop, which was facilitated by Gil Rendle, of the Texas Methodist Foundation. Members of about 35 boards and committees learned about solidifying their goals and outcomes for the future through small group exercises.
What difference does God want us to make instead of what we want to do?" - Gil Rendle, senior consultant of the Texas Methodist Foundation
Rendle engaged participants to think about their roles in the conference, asking: "What difference does God want us to make instead of what we want to do?" Attendees spent much of the day with their respective boards and committees trying to answer that question while planning out their vision for the next two years.
One of the driving forces for this Leadership Summit was a report that came out of this year's annual conference session stating the current unsustainability of the Rocky Mountain Conference. Rendle pointed out a 10-year downward trend for the conference, stating that Professions of Faith have dropped 35 percent, baptisms have dropped 37 percent and confirmations have gone down 36 percent. He added, however, that this was happening to other conferences as well.
"You can no longer afford your structure," Rendle said. Nonetheless, he added that the Rocky Mountain Conference can't be changed immediately "because you don't yet know what structure you need."
Even with that sentiment, some left the Leadership Summit hopeful.
"I thought it was a great event ... so well worth our time," said Steve Easterday-McPadden, of First United Methodist Church in Fort Collins, "The group I brought down ... was really energized by Gil's presentation, time with other church leaders in the conference, connecting with Skip and our bishop, all of it."
Easterday-McPadden admitted that his intention was more local rather than conference-wide. "Our group broke out from the rest of the process, especially in the afternoon, to focus on local church vision and leadership, not the conference-level stuff. But Gil's presentation was so helpful in giving us a framework around which to structure our discussion and planning."
We have to be intentional and be able to move forward in productive ways." - Leighton Mekeal, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Greeley, CO
Other participants still had lingering questions. "He's been our horse for the last five or six years," said Leighton Mekeal, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Greeley and chair for the Board of Ordained Ministry, about Rendle. "I've seen him five or six times -- it doesn't seem to ever be different."
"There's not a lot of latitude with the work we do," Mekeal said about the Board of Ordained Ministry, adding "our work is highly prescriptive. We have to be open and creative with the types of appointments we do."
Nevertheless, Mekeal said his committee has to look to the future: "We have to be intentional and be able to move forward in productive ways. Our churches need that."