Sustainability: It's Not All About The Numbers!

At a strategic planning retreat in August 2020, the Coordinating Cabinet set a goal to assess our Annual Conference’s current financial realties and ongoing sustainability, and establish action steps to address unsustainable practices and opportunities for improvement.

A theologically and racially diverse 13-member task force of clergy and laity from various areas of the Conference was formed with representatives from the Connectional Leadership Team (CLT), Coordinating Cabinet, Episcopal Office and Council on Finance & Administration (CF&A). The group began meeting in October, 2020. 

Sustainability Task Force Members
  • Donna Vizza, CLT Chair
  • Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, Director of Connectional Ministries
  • Rev. Patrick Lenox, Cabinet Dean
  • Sharon Gregory, Conference Lay Leader
  • Rev. Seth McClymonds CF&A Chair
  • Mallory Miles, CF&A Vice Chair
  • Erica Rushing, CF&A Member
  • Roger White, Conference Treasurer
  • Rev. Renee Mikell, Assistant to the Bishop
  • Rev. Robert Zilhaver, Connellsville District Superintendent
  • Rev. Amy Wagner, Congregational Development & Revitalization
  • Paul Huey, Associate Conference Lay Leader
  • Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi

The task force was intentional in its efforts to “go back to basics” and ground its work in the fundamental principles of connectionalism and disciple-making (see BOD ¶132 and ¶601), as well as addressing the temporal needs of our local churches. 

What started as a discussion focused primarily on the Conference connectional budget, transformed into a passion-filled collaboration about new ways of operating, new approaches for bolstering and supporting mission and ministry efforts at the local church and community level, and opportunities to strengthen and engage more fully the district lay leaders and lay servants.As part of their work, the task force utilized concepts from Bill Sharpe’s Three Horizons:The Patterning of Hope to not only assess current realities, but to envision a future state.
Read about the Three Horizons Analysis


The Three Horizons thinking was seminal; it resulted in a shift from a numbers-driven assessment to a more broad-based assessment.  

In “mathematical equation" terms:

  • Financial Sustainability ≠ Conference Sustainability
  • Focusing purely on the numbers could result in cost-cutting ourselves out of existence; defunding ministry
  • Conference Sustainability = Fiscal Responsibility + Connection + Vital Ministry
  • At this point the word “Financial”  was dropped from the task force name.

What's Next?

Although the work of the Sustainability Task Force is far from over, the results of its work from the last 6+ months, as well as details of the pilot programs (experiments) being undertaken, are listed below. Each item links to a page with more detailed information.

It is with boldness, seriousness and conviction that the task force members are doing their work.  While it may have been easier to pursue a less costly, modified version of the status quo, that would have simply perpetuated unsustainable practices.  By naming and addressing the brokenness, the task force is seizing the opportunity to implement change while so much around us has grown stagnant. 

Please pray for and support the task force members as they continue their work, as well as the Conference members that will be shepherding the pilot programs.  Recalling Isaiah 43: 18-19:
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Download a PDF of the sustainability initiative information contained on these pages.