Vision Team Progress
Over the past month, each association has held a special meeting to hear and discuss the restructuring proposal from the Vision Team. (If you haven’t seen the proposal, click HERE.) These meetings were well attended and brought forth numerous questions and suggestions, many of which were similar from one meeting to the next. While there was certainly some anxiety about disrupting things that are working well, there was general receptivity about trying something new.
If you read the proposal or attended one of the meetings, you will know that Vision Team has reached a strong consensus about certain matters. There is unanimous support from the Vision Team for shared ministry and for forming a single judicatory. Both of these would lead to more responsible stewardship than our current structure which has a fair amount of redundancy and inefficiency. Consequently, the Vision Team is recommending that the associations begin a journey of collaborative ministry, concentrating on strengthening relationships and building trust across the territory in preparation for ultimate decisions about structural change.
The thought is that if the associations and conference consolidate administrative and programmatic functions that could reasonably be done once for everyone, the improved efficiencies will free up resources for specialized ministries that would be shared across Ohio, northern Kentucky, and West Virginia. An additional goal is to be able to forward a higher percentage of OCWM to the national setting for ministry that benefits us all. No decisions have been made regarding any new or expanded specialized ministries, but possibilities include Stewardship and Generosity, Church Vitality, Prophetic Witness, and/or Faith Formation. Certainly, we intend existing Faith Formation ministries like Outdoor Ministry to continue.
The Vision Team is committed to a structure that includes three or four support centers distributed across the territory, each with a minister (exact titles remain to be determined) that would provide pastoral care to clergy and churches within their area, and support Committee on Ministry and Search and Call. These ministers would be less burdened by administrative responsibilities than our current association ministers. Churches in these areas would be encouraged to come together with sister congregations, especially for fellowship, mission, education, and social justice.
While there are numerous areas of strong agreement within the Vision Team, we are not ready to ask you to commit to a specific new structure. We feel a need for a time of “walking together” on this journey before we make final decisions on a new structure. There are many ways that we can integrate our work and realize mutual benefits, and we encourage that this be the first area of focus. In fact, the Association Ministers, who are all part of the Vision Team, are already discussing ways they can collaborate in new ways.
At the conference Annual Gathering on September 28 & 29, we will focus on the Vision Team proposal. On Friday afternoon, attendees will have an opportunity to interact with the members of the three working groups – Best Practices, Finance and Stewardship, and Structure – that have been working with the Vision Team. On Saturday, the proposal will be lifted up during the business meeting to see whether there is widespread support for the recommended direction. We will be seeking a commitment to the recommended direction of beginning a shared journey that will likely take two to three years to complete.
The Vision Team is meeting once more before the Annual Gathering, to consider input received at the special meetings or from other communications. Some editing to the proposal is likely and the revised document will be distributed throughout the conference prior to the Annual Gathering.
Over the remaining weeks, the Vision Team asks for your prayers. We also encourage churches to lift this process up in prayer on a weekly basis.
Blessings and peace,