Report to the Faith Communities of Central Southeast Ohio, Living Water ONE, Northwest Ohio and SONKA Associations of the Heartland Conference
Introduction and Brief Background
In 2018, the Vision Team convened by Heartland (then Ohio) Conference presented a vision for shared ministry at the Conference Annual Gathering, which affirmed that continued work should proceed. Over the last few months, the Executive Teams of all the Associations and the Conference have begun meeting monthly to revitalize this work. The Executive Teams then formed The One Heart Working Group comprised of two representatives and the minister from each setting to dive deeper into this work over a time horizon of three months. To ensure transparency, we are providing a summary of the group’s work and as well as meeting minutes, which will also be available at our respective websites.
OHWG was tasked with addressing the elephants in the room about potential restructuring, revising/updating the 2018 Vision document, and developing a plan for moving forward in shared ministry.
We began with an informal assessment (spectrum) of our readiness and enthusiasm for continuing this work. There was commitment to some level of mutual/shared/collaborative ministry from all parties, but there is not uniform agreement on the eventual outcome or structure.
- • Freeing Elephants (Elephant Analysis)
Joe Kay synthesized the feedback from the survey results. We did not attempt to solve these elephants but discussed them to understand, acknowledge them, and consider them in our ongoing deliberations.
Group Processing of Critical Documents
- • 2018 Vision Team Document
- • Central South East Letter
- • Living Water Response Letter
- • Heartland Conference Board of Directors Response Letter
Our focus was on the vision, mission, and purpose statements from the 2018 Vision Team Document. We have revised them in both title and content after much thoughtful, theological, and missional reflection:
- • Why (Vision) Statement:
Together in Christ love, we collaborate to reconcile and restore all God’s creation.
- • Calling (Mission) Statement:
Empowered by the Holy Spirit to connect, equip and support our faith communities to grow as faithful disciples and responsible stewards, following Jesus’ call to extravagantly love all God’s children and creation.
- • One Heart Working Group Purpose Statement:
To create a collaborative, flexible and supportive structure that will serve, enhance, and nourish our covenantal growth in all our faith communities and ministry settings.
- • Collaboration
Collaboration remains a consistent goal of the group. We have spent some time exploring the varying expectations associated with this term and are working toward consensus. We affirm that there is a difference between collaborative ministry in which all parties have equity and full participation and shared ministry in which one or more parties offer resources as an opportunity to participate. Both have value and may be used as appropriate in our common life. There is also the understanding that collaboration must be voluntary and the ability to opt-out preserved.
This area remains our current focus. In the coming weeks, we will work towards identifying and prioritizing opportunities for collaboration.
- • Communication Strategy and Plan
We acknowledge our responsibility to communicate to the Executive Teams who have delegated this work to us. We also recommend a larger communication strategy to facilitate transparency and accountability beyond our table.
We will provide a summary of our work as well as the minutes of our meetings. You will note that the minutes are comprehensive and show the progress of the conversation. The summary will attempt, as this document does, to give a sense of the process while emphasizing conclusions and the big picture. We recommend that both the summary and the minutes be made available to the Boards/Councils of our settings. We also recommend that we communicate the big picture view to our congregations using the current communication vehicles that we use (email newsletters, websites, and social media). At this time, we think it is important to communicate our existence and that we are continuing/updating the work of the former Vision Team.
Finally, we have been blessed by devotional reflections that have reminded us, in part, that:
- • Our natural instincts do not lead us through the correct gate.
- • We have the ability to live beyond the barriers of who we were.
- • We may be used to multiply God’s compassion and love in the world.
Yours in Christ,
Cheryl A. Lindsay, Chair
One Heart Working Group
One Heart Working Group Members:
Central Southeast Association
Patricia Battle, Association General Minister
David Long-Higgins, Transitional Conference Minister
Living Water Association ONE
Steven Savides/Rachel McDonald
Nayiri Karjian, Association General Minister
Dan Busch, Association General Minister
Southern Ohio Northern Kentucky Association
Carl Robinson, Association General Minister