Update on Our New Conference

Dear Friends,

I trust you have had a good summer.  I give thanks for fruitful work leading us to the successful vote at both annual conferences regarding the formation of a new conference.  This year will provide an opportunity to live by faith as we move into the future with sure and certain hope that God is guiding our steps.

The task now before us is to complete the plan of transition, organization, structure, staffing and budget.  I have asked Rob Martin and Melinda Britt to lead a guide team along with the following persons:

Bethany Huffman
Cindy Solomon
H.G. Stovall
Jim Allen
John Pearce
Larry Davis
Lynn Taylor
Roger Hopson

To help our larger advisory team do this work, we have created this smaller guide team and employed Cindy Solomon as our project coordinator to keep track of the workflow. The guide team has met four times to establish the scope of work to be accomplished.  They will guide working, conversational groups to accomplish the technical and adaptive work that is before us.  This team will be recruiting members for these groups from the larger advisory team and beyond; leaders who are willing and gifted to assist in executing the tasks and transition conversations to be accomplished.

The guide team has created a covenant realizing that it will be essential for this challenging work.  It is not a perfect document but a living one that relies on God to make it work.  And they are extending the invitation for each of the teams working on this new conference to adapt this covenant for their own.

  • We will bathe our work in prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our work.
  • We will choose to trust in each other and in the process.
  • We will make decisions in alignment with our new conference mission, vision and values and make this our priority.
  • We will lead with openness – hearing and listening to ideas that are not our own.
  • We will be transparent by sharing information on our teams and with other teams and leaders.
  • We will own our perspective and acknowledge and address conflicts of interest.
  • We will do our work with a bias for thoughtful action.
  • We will be empathetic for generations to come who will be living and leading in the new conference.
  • We commit to seek input and reflection from diverse perspectives and experiences.
  • We will speak publicly in a unified voice, while allowing disagreement in our teamwork.
  • We will have each other’s back.
  • We will hold each other accountable to our actions.
  • We will be present physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
  • We will decide what will be communicated at the end of each meeting.
  • We will share when we hit a rough patch in our work.
  • We will remember our purpose as a team and be clear in our authority.

A meeting of the expanded new conference advisory team, including over 90 laity and clergy, was held on September 10 at Discipleship Ministries.  The gathering time centered around Ecclesiastes 3 and the new season of our church. We remembered the common language of the mission, vision, values and strategic initiatives that we adopted last June at annual conference.

During this time together, each member of the new conference guide team shared information about their work thus far, gained input from the larger advisory team on tasks that need accomplishing, conversations that need to be held over the next year, and communication styles that will be effective. The guide team is already using the input to direct their communication. The advisory team reflected on the content of an article written by Cynthia Weems and Lovett Weems, Jr. on leadership and how leading with these characteristics could impact their work (https://www.emergingmethodism.com/new-article/characteristics-of-leadership-needed-for-united-methodisms-future).

They practiced asset-based conversations that will be helpful as we discover the gifts God is providing in the Nashville Episcopal area.  Using a Gantt chart, the workflow and timeline of the work to create a new conference was reviewed as well.

The advisory team, the guide team and I are committed to transparency with each conference as we do the work before us.  Please continue to follow this blog, as well as your conference and district communications channels. This will allow you to be informed into the future.

I invite you to share your gifts and your input as we step into our future by faith.

I ask for your prayers for the ongoing work that is before us.

As we walk this road to a new conference- across the river, I look forward to the journey that is unfolding—a future, focused on our mission 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.

Grace and Peace,

Bishop McAlilly