Bishop’s Forward Focus Tours continue

By Jessica Brodie

Bishop Jonathan Holston and other conference leaders will head to the Greenwood District Nov. 12 and the Marion District Nov. 19 to lift up a new “forward focus” process for United Methodist churches to be in ministry with their local community.

The trips are part of the bishop’s 12-district tour throughout the fall and winter. The tour kicked off Oct. 22 in Orangeburg. The Oct. 8 tour in Columbia was postponed because of the hurricane. (See box for other dates and locations.)

Church pastors are asked to bring five church members with them to the tour and learn about Forward Focus, a voluntary South Carolina-specific plan for church revitalization unique to the individual church. The program was used successfully in the North Georgia Conference (there, called Facing the Mirror), and congregational specialists have worked more than 120 hours to adapt it for UMCs in this state. The process will assist churches in taking a look at who they are and how to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a fast-paced and changing world.

The Forward Focus process takes about three to four months per church, said congregational specialist the Rev. Jim Arant. Each participating congregation is assigned a “forward leader,” someone from the district trained as a coach by the congregational specialist, who will work with the church’s pastor and a church-appointed “forward team.”

They will spend time looking inward—analyzing finances, membership, attendance and facilities—as well as outward, trying to understand the current needs of the surrounding community and doing interviews with community leaders.

Every congregation determines its own plan, Arant said, and at the end, they will come away with specific action steps to revitalize their church and community in a way that is uniquely them. The possibilities are limitless, he said, and exciting.

Contact your district office to register.

Dates for Bishop’s Forward Focus Tour

All events 9 a.m. to noon. Contact your district office to register.

  • Nov. 12—Greenwood District (St. Mark UMC's Rivers Street Campus, 1633 Rivers St., Greenwood)
  • Nov. 19—Marion District (Aynor High School, 201 Jordanville Rd, Aynor)
  • Dec. 3—Hartsville District (First UMC, 117 Third St., Cheraw)
  • Dec. 10—Florence District (Central UMC, 265 W. Cheves St., Florence)
  • Jan. 7—Walterboro District (Shady Grove Family Life Center, 9221 Charleston Hwy., St. George)
  • Jan. 14—Spartanburg District (Lyman UMC, 106 Groce Road, Lyman)
  • Jan. 21—Anderson District (Clemson UMC, 300 Frontage Rd., Clemson)
  • Feb. 4—Greenville District (Buncombe Street UMC, 200 Buncombe St., Greenville)
  • Feb. 11—Rock Hill District (Mount Holly UMC, 1996 Mount Holly Rd., Rock Hill)
  • Feb. 25—Charleston District (Bethany UMC, 118 W. Third S. St., Summerville)

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