Connectional Table quarterly meeting focuses on financial needs for ministry

January 25, 2018

The Western North Carolina Conference Connectional Table met Saturday, January 20 at the United Methodist Foundation in Huntersville.

Rev. Amy Coles, assistant to Bishop Leeland, led us in a devotion sparked by research she has been doing on Bitcoin.  She concluded from her research (using phrases from Seth Godin) that “money isn’t real, but mostly a sign and a signal.”

She continued with the idea that “Money tells stories” and referred to several stories from the New Testament- Zacchaeus, the rich young ruler, “render unto Caesar”, and Lydia.

She asked the question, “What stories has the church told you about money?” She concluded with the remark, “The stories that our conference can tell points to a God of abundance.”

The devotion was a foretelling of what that day’s business would entail.

The budget discussion was led by Dana Lyles, a layperson from Greensboro, who serves on the denomination’s Connectional Table.  Though dollars figures were shared by about a dozen groups that receive funding from the conference, the focus was on the stories of ministry being done through conference groups.

Some exciting stories shared during the process:

  • The Board of Laity is working toward a goal of equipping 80% of our churches to have at least one Gracious Accountability Group by 2020.
  • The Board of Ordained Ministry is working with 36 candidates for full connection in 2018, which is a greater number than the past few years, and this is unique in our denomination.
  • Conference Camping Ministries is seeing growing strength with the four conference camps and is seeing the investment in leadership and board training paying off.
  • The Council on Campus Ministries is working with seven different governing boards and growing leadership through the assistance of conference funds.  They have many stories to tell of growth and vitality within various campuses—for instance, the Wesley Fellowship at Appalachian State has had 14 pastors come out of its program in recent years.
  • The Justice and Reconciliation Team has nine different groups under its umbrella, and in the past year has seen more coordination and organization leading to strong programs that engage  an increasing number of churches and disciples across Western North Carolina.
  • The Church Vitality Team shared that much fruit has been born by its emphasis on Fresh Expressions in the past year.  There are currently 60 persons enrolled in two cohorts to become Fresh Expressions practitioners who will create new places for new people.  There are also plans for adding six new church starts each year over the quadrennium.
  • The Leadership Development Team reported that they have increased their partnerships with districts and have had expect heavy participation in upcoming workshops on preaching and retirement preparation in the coming months.
  • The Mission Engagement Team is using grants to create opportunities for greater learning and understanding about transforming communities versus “toxic charity.”  There are 14 mission churches being supported through funds and administrative support through the conference.  And, the Mission Response Center in Terrell, NC has over 5000 cleaning buckets and 21,000 UMCOR kits in storage packed and provided by churches of the conference.
  • Within Connectional Ministries, there are numerous programs (including youth, age level ministries, Safe Sanctuaries and several major events) supported by a meager budget. Currently, over 70 youth workers serving across the conference have been involved in peer learning supported by this group.
  • The Connectional Table prioritized developing creative ways to partner with conference vital ministries such as Crossnore School, UMAR, and our retirement communities to help them tell their story.

The Connectional Table will be meeting again on February 24th to finalize the 2019 Proposed Budget that will be presented at Annual Conference in June.