“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.”
These words from John Wesley have echoed through our denomination since its inception, and many efforts have been undertaken throughout the years to bring this dream to fruition. The generations of Christians and Methodists before us have laid the groundwork, and in the midst of current confusion and uncertainty, our Conference is taking bold new steps through the Sustainability Initiative to help ensure that our generation of disciples may carry on their faithful work. A comprehensive look at our efforts has been offered to you already, but as lay representatives of the Sustainability Task Force, we wish to share with you our perspective on what makes this new initiative so exciting.
As our task force began to discern how to resource and equip local churches for ministry in our current contexts, the renewed focus on disciple-making and relationship-building generated energy and inspiration within our group. COVID-19 forced us to change much of what we have always done, and our denomination may take actions in the future that will require us to make new and difficult decisions. Despite this, our excitement stems from the simplicity that lies at the core of our Sustainability Initiative; a simplicity which turns our attention away from those unknowns while refocusing our efforts on what we do know and what we can control. We are called to love God. We are called to love our neighbors. We are called.
This call transcends our current difficulties, and it transcends even the denominational lines we have drawn and redrawn for ourselves throughout our history. It strikes to the very heart of our Christian faith and it will continue to sound for the generations of faithful disciples who are yet to come. This new Sustainability Initiative is structured to provide a more accessible network of personnel, resources, and support meant to empower individuals and our local churches for the ministries which are so vital in our communities today. By living more intentionally into the Wesleyan Means of Grace, we intend to strengthen discipleship within our Conference, and build upon our existing relationships which help us put faith into action in fulfillment of our mission. These approaches to personal and corporate discipleship and ministry will better position and serve our members, churches, and the world no matter what circumstances lie ahead.
We are excited for the Pittsburgh, Butler, Erie-Meadville, and Kane districts as they begin to engage with the Regional Staff Pilot Program. We look forward to the renewed creativity and cooperation borne from the District Superintendency Pilot Program as the Franklin and Indiana districts live into new models of leadership. Like our laity across the entire conference, only some of the lay members on the Sustainability Task Force will begin interacting with these pilot programs immediately. But those of us who do not live and worship within the pilot districts will still benefit from the experience, knowledge, discipleship, and relationships fostered within these programs. We are a connected people, and it is through our connection with God and with each other that we will carry our ministries and the Good News of Jesus Christ into the future.
In the months ahead, we ask that you pray for these programs and the individuals, churches, and districts involved. We encourage you to seek out the stories and successes as they are realized from our efforts. We pray that you will open your hearts as we move forth in mission to further realize the dream that Wesley articulated so long ago for the people called Methodists. We hope that if your church is not located in one of the pilot districts, that you will be intentional about connecting with those who are. As you feel the excitement and witness new growth, take the steps detailed in the Pilot Program FAQs that will help your district become one of the next regions to participate.
As these new efforts unfold and new realities take shape, we are with you. And “the best of all is, God is with us.”Sharon Gregory - Conference Lay Leader Paul Huey - Associate Conference Lay Leader Donna Vizza - Chair, Connectional Leadership Table (CLT) Mallory Miles - Vice Chair, Council on Finance & Administration Erica Rushing - CF&A Member