Story and photo submitted by the Rev. Dr. Melanie Rosa
Superintendent, Mile High/Pikes Peak District
The Council of Bishops brought together the Extended Cabinets from all over the United States to Jacksonville, Florida, from Nov. 2 to 4, 2016 to focus upon congregational vitality and courageous leadership. Similar gatherings were held concurrently in Europe, the Philippines, and two locations in Africa.
The event was grounded in worship and heartfelt prayer, as together we considered how we can most effectively cultivate vitality and shape disciples who change lives. The focus was not upon what divides us, but rather the mission which unites us as denominational leaders who are first and foremost disciples of Jesus Christ. We considered the WHY of what we do so that we can better prioritize exactly what we do.
We heard from a variety of episcopal leaders and others on topics such as: our missiologial imperative, using data to create strategic outcomes, shaping a more effective organizational culture, fresh expressions of ministry, aligning our mission with the four focus areas of our denomination. The Council of Bishops has made a commitment to work toward increasing the number of churches that are engaged in developing principled Christian leaders, creating new places for new people, engaging in ministries with the poor, and improving global health. Over the next four years, the goal is to double the number of vital congregations.
We considered how to move from a culture of nostalgic institutional preservation to one of bold missional engagement and relational discipleship. We spent two hours meeting with Bishop Bruce Ough and the cabinets from Minnesota and the Dakotas to share ideas and best practices. And we heard updates on the Commission on a Way Forward.
It was valuable to be there with the Mountain Sky Area team, and I found it more spiritually nourishing than I expected. Some questions percolating in my mind as I process this experience:
- What spiritual and adaptive questions do we need to ask in order to change the things that are not working?
- How can we use data to create deeper conversations and better outcomes?
- What does vitality look like in communities that are shrinking and struggling?
- How do we build respectful relationships with the poor and marginalized people in our communities?
- How can we inspire deeper discipleship in every faith community?
- Can we love those with whom we disagree and model the unity of the body of Christ without insisting upon uniformity?
- Can we live into Bishop Oliveto’s vision of Beloved Community in ways that are respectful and grace filled?
So much depends upon our answers to those questions. May we find our way together, sisters and brothers, with the help of God.
Read the United Methodist News Service story on the Extended Cabinet Summit