Over the last three months both the Memphis Conference and the Tennessee Conference have been working with the Financial Advisory Consulting Team (FACT) from the General Board of Finance and Administration and the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits. This is a process that started under Bishop Ben Chamness and one which was continued when I arrived. As a result, we now have quantifiable data with regard to our trends over the last decade or so. The reports are comprehensive and in many ways daunting to consider.
A summary of the reports is on the respective websites for each conference (Memphis | Tennessee). In the TN Conference there is no clearly stated vision; in the Memphis Conference there is no clearly stated mission. A common denominator in both conferences is a lack of trust. The themes of missional, pastoral and congregational excellence emerge in each conference and a desire to clearly articulate a vision around these is evident. There is sufficient data to rattle even the most optimistic of us to the core. Most of all, it is clear that the adaptive challenge before us is that we cannot continue doing business as usual. We must continue to see the Nashville Area as a mission field and unite, articulate, and execute a clear plan for mission and evangelism.
Perhaps the most significant recommendation was to suspend the Uniting Committee work, which was begun in February 2012. What was recommended was that we vigorously pursue alignment across the Nashville Episcopal Area. Each conference convened the members of the Uniting Team following the FACT Team meeting and each group voted unanimously to suspend their work and affirmed the formation of a Strategic Mapping Team for the Nashville Area as well as a Strategic Mapping Team for both the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences.
The Area Team will meet beginning in mid-January with Gil Rendle, Leadership Consultant with the Texas Methodist Foundation, who will guide our work (The Bishop’s Blog introduced Gil Rendle in the Nov. 6 blog post “Keeping Hope and Closing the Gap”). We will meet for two days in January and two days in February. I have asked each FACT Team participant to submit the names of two clergy and two laity who might be considered for leading the strategy work.
It is my hope that at the Annual Conference Session we will receive a report from the Strategy Teams for consideration.
In the meantime, your thoughts are important to us. Feel free to respond in writing to the FACT Report and make suggestions that will improve our life together. An email address has been established for both Conferences and should be utilized for members to send in their questions, comments, and concerns regarding the FACT Report: NASMT@nashareaumc.org.
This day, I give thanks for your faithfulness the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May the Peace of Christ be with you always.