Report of the The Nashville Episcopal Area Strategy Mapping Team

During the past year, a Nashville Episcopal Area Strategy Mapping Team has been meeting (with members from both the Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences) to discern a mission and vision for the area, as well as our core values and primary areas of focus. After many long hours of conversation and prayer, the team believes that God is leading us toward the mission, values and focus described below.

This is a work in progress. The next step is to share this with leaders throughout the area to receive their feedback, allowing us to refine our mission, values, and focus, and then to discover the next steps in reaching a shared agreement about how God is already at work in the Nashville Episcopal Area, and where God is calling us to grow in more effectively being a part of God’s mission in the world. 

I encourage you to be in a spirit of prayer and discernment as we work together to carry out God’s call here in the Nashville Episcopal Area. 


 The mission of the Tennessee Conference and the Memphis Conference is to discover, equip, connect and send lay and clergy leaders who shape congregations that offer Jesus Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time. 

In obedience to God’s leading, we will serve with:

  • Unrelenting love for all people
    • We will fulfill our baptismal call to love God and neighbor.
    • We live out unconditional love in our glad acceptance of all God’s people by upholding on another’s dignity and sacred worth.
  • Integrity
    • We will describe honestly what we see with grace and compassion.
    • We will be authentic and transparent.
    • We will be accountable to each other.
    • We will build trust with each other in courageous and risk taking ways.
  • Excellence
    • We will strive for missional, pastoral, and congregational excellence.
  • Faithfulness and Fruitfulness
    • We will discern all ministries through prayer.
    • We will establish relationships in neighborhoods and engage in meaningful witness.
    • We will measure our actions and decisions by their connection to our mission.
  • Innovation
    • We will change whatever we need to within our structure and ourselves, holding nothing sacred but the mission.
    • We will begin new faith communities.
    • We will seek revival in the neighborhoods through the sharing of Word and Deed.

Four Focus Areas

  •  Invest in Young People
  • Engage the Mission Field
  • Create transforming lay and clergy leaders
  • Grow Fruitful and Faithful Churches

18 Comments on “Report of the The Nashville Episcopal Area Strategy Mapping Team”

  1. Rev. Dr. Charles A. Becher says:

    What seems like a century ago, I was a member of the New England Southern Conference. We joined with the New England Conference. One of the motivations was that we were sharing camping and camp programs, youth work, education personnel and minister training. In other words we were already working together. I have yet to see much cooperation between Memphis and Tennessee Conferences. I hope we not only talk but we also act on our call to a broader ministry. I believe you are moving in the right direction and in the right way, Bishop. I thank God for your leadership.

    • wtmcalilly says:

      Thanks. We continue to meet as an area cabinet and extended cabinet. Our Clergy Spiritual Life retreat will be held jointly in March. The Boards of Ministry are looking at ways of cooperating. We are seeking alignment where possible.

      Thanks for your observation.

  2. Steve Tippens says:

    I’d suggest that “urgency” is an critically important word here. Not the kind that says “we can’t wait, this is too important for slow-walking.” Rather the kind that says “we must, no ifs, ands, or buts – we must.” In the minds of many, the image of the church is “casual” at best, something along the lines of snail’s pace. Who would want to be part of such a thing? Perhaps those content with a status quo that serves their interests, or those weary and rest-ready. The first step in turning the ocean liner is transformation of the crew – in their thinking, their sense of accountability, their willingness to risk all for the larger purpose. Apparently, the leading of the Holy Spirit gains a “yes” from some, a “no” from others. Discernment is tricky business except in a selfless environment. By what process do we set aside personal agendas in favor of the greater good? Does that have something to do with being in love with Jesus? Would a greater vision for God’s preferred future have something to do with “Thy Kingdom come on Earth?” What must happen to cause us to commit to its achievement within the life of our species? How does the church fit into all of this?

    • wtmcalilly says:

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Great questions.

      • Steve Tippens says:

        Thanks, for your response, my brother. For me, the questions are much more than rhetoric. I hope for answers from the ship’s crew – those charged with leadership of our church, any one or more of them. I believe the efficacy of the whole operation depends on their ability to provide practical answers that make sense to practical people, something more than seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which I fear becomes easy-speak in ecclesiastical circles, a foreign language for many, including some of those who speak it. I do believe we have answers before us, but we have a strong tendency to filter them through agenda-clouded glasses.

        Thank you for your strong effort to lead us through troubled waters and reset our compass.

    • wmvaughan says:

      Steve I do not know you but you have captured my attention! I must confess that you have caused me to rethink the church’s mission and to realize that it’s more than just being in love with Jesus and calling on people to listen to the “Holy Spirit”. Thanks for your profound insight.
      Bill Vaughan

      • Steve Tippens says:

        Bill, I’m a lay person at Blakemore UMC, deeply concerned about the future of my local church and the church at large, United Methodist and beyond. My questions come out of my own searching. They seem to lead to even more questions and ever expanding possibilities. The questions engage my mind and won’t let go. I’m hopeful they will also engage others and open us to new ways of thinking that can bring new life to the church. I’d like to know you. Can you tell me about yourself? If not here, my email is Blessings brother.

  3. Randy Neal says:

    Looks good. Sounds good. But it took a “team” to come up with this? And several months? It appears to me to be another predictable “Church” answer. I know of no one that could possibly disagree with any word of it.

    “We will change whatever we need to within our structure and ourselves, holding nothing sacred but the mission”

    I so long to see this. But although mankind has been to the moon, can birth a baby in nine
    months, and lives a life of “I want it all and I want it now,” I somehow am not sure many of our leaders have the “want to” or feels any urgency to make changes. We plan and act as if we had all the time in the world.

    Maybe we can begin after AC next summer. (Sorry for the rant.) I’m not angry–just tired.

    • wtmcalilly says:

      Thanks for your comment, Randy.

      In many ways you are absolutely right. Anyone could have, in a room alone, written this statement. As Bishop, I could have said, “this is our mission, vision, and value statement.” If I had, no one would have been on board and no one would have been willing to buy into the deep change required of us all.

      I remember something Gil Rendle said last summer. “We don’t have much time so go slow.”

      We are turning an ocean liner not a jet ski. I pray that we will not see this as just a pretty statement but rather a playbook that guides our priorities and ultimately our future.

      Frankly, we already know more than we are willing to do. And in a perfect world, we would not need a statement. The Bible already has given us a playbook. Some of us have not been in love with Jesus enough to run all the plays.

      Hopefully, the work we are doing will allow us to catch a greater vision for God’s preferred future.


      • wmvaughan says:

        Bishop thanks for your reply to Randy Neal. Hopefully more of us will be more in love with JESUS! Frequently people ask me what I would do different if I could redo my 71 years of ministry. My reply ” It would be more about JESUS.
        Bill Vaughan

  4. Steve Tippens says:

    Two thumbs up!
    Among the key words: unconditional love, authentic, transparent, accountable, mission (uniquely sacred), revival. May we add “reinvent,” “renovate,” with unfettered thinking (for flavor)?

  5. James Ellington says:

    I think the bishop and the mapping team are on the right path and I look forward to being a part of this great journey.

  6. Kyle And Joy says:

    Could you email these posings to the addresses under BCC? This is my Reunion group and they are all going to do this with me. Thank you so much. Joy Morrison

    From: Greater Things Are Yet To Be Done To: Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 6:02 AM Subject: [New post] Report of the The Nashville Episcopal Area Strategy Mapping Team

    wtmcalilly posted: “During the past year, a Nashville Episcopal Area Strategy Mapping Team has been meeting (with members from both the Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences) to discern a mission and vision for the area, as well as our core values and primary areas of foc”

  7. Bill Vaughan says:

    How refreshing to have leadership that enables us to make mission and ministry a priority.Thanks be to God for the planning committee and the work being accomplished across conference lines.

  8. Vida McClure says:

    I believe we could all benefit from posting it on the ref and reading it every day – putting our personal selves (as well as our churches) in the spotlight.

  9. John Carpenter says:

    good, and be remembered by ‘decs’ …