New Structure Takes First Steps

By Jessica Connor

A new structure for Connectional Ministries now heads to the next stage, with progress on two fronts.

First, members of the new Committee on Transition, who were appointed in late summer, held their initial meeting Sept. 21 to begin “putting flesh on the bones of the new structure,” said the Rev. Willie Teague, director of Connectional Ministries for the S.C. Conference.

The transition team will work throughout the fall to ensure the new structure meets the standards of the Book of Discipline and judicial rulings. It will also review standing rules and bring to the 2011 Annual Conference a list of those rules that need to be amended.

Teague hopes the team will have its work completed just after the first of the year.

The transition team comprises chair Earline Ulmer, the Rev. Patricia Mayfield, Joe Heyward, the Rev. Robin Dease, Carolyn Briscoe, the Rev. Fran Elrod, the Rev. Amiri Hooker, Scott Bach-Hansen, Jane Scott, Greenville District Superintendent the Rev. Charles Johnson, Barbara Ware and the Rev. Michael Henderson, as well as ex officio the Rev. Ted Walters and Congregational Specialist the Rev. Kathy James.

Ulmer said she is in a time of discernment and prayer about the process, particularly hoping team members will push aside personal thoughts and try to be spirit-driven instead.

“I think this is something that has to be beyond our personal desires and wishes and trust that God could be leading this conference into a process that will better equip our local churches with a desire to utilize the resources that are available to them,” Ulmer said.

DCCMs ready for training

On the second front, members of each of the 12 new District Councils of Connectional Ministries have been named and will hold training sessions in October or November to prepare for their official launch in January.

Overseen by the district superintendent and that district’s congregational specialist, each DCCM comprises four separate areas of ministry (discipleship, advocacy, outreach and lay leadership). Those four ministry areas each comprise six to 10 members, for a total of 36-40 DCCM members per district.

“We’ll take a two- or three-hour time period and walk them through a typical meeting, so that when January comes, not only are the members identified, but they’re ready to begin their ministry,” Teague said. “They’ll be trained so they’ll know their responsibility and given some assistance in knowing how to function and relate to the Conference Council of Connectional Ministries when it’s established at Annual Conference 2011.”

The rough outline of a similar restructuring was also approved for CCCM, but a vote on the full restructuring will come in 2011. If Annual Conference 2011 approves the CCCM restructuring, then the DCCMs will then send two representatives from each of the four areas to sit on the CCCM, plus as many as six additional members per area based on need for diversity or expertise.

About 100 people will ultimately sit on the new CCCM.

Teague said the idea behind the restructuring is to replace an old structure that impeded connectionalism with one that is better connected to the local church and better able to equip local churches.

“The current structure inhibits action and doesn’t make it easy to respond to needs, whether identified by local, district, Annual Conference or General Church boards and agencies,” Teague said, emphasizing its necessity.

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