The Demopolis District in the Alabama-West Florida Conference, under the leadership of District Superintendent Rev. Allen Newton, welcomed Dr. Victor Dingus and several conference leaders on Sunday, January 8, 2017. The district conducted its annual obligations at Demopolis FUMC, such as voting on nominations and the budget but this year had a unique spirit.
Dr. Dingus, founder of Next Step Ministry, was the invited guest. He challenged the pastors and lay leadership to think about these key questions:
-Who are we as Methodist leaders in these times - NOW?
-What must we think about - NOW?
-What must we do - NOW?
-What relationships must be connected and reconnected – NOW?
He emphasized to the district that partnerships are a necessity for success by saying, "NOW is the time to transform everything we do and build collaboration among clergy and laity. NOW is the time to align everything we do in each and every congregation in our mission and ministry to make Christ known and through love and grace touch everyone in Demopolis District."
Dingus is a second-career lay person who has a deep passion for congregational and district revitalization. He has a proven track record of helping churches and organizations become more vital and achieve their desired result. He was welcomed into the Alabama-West Florida Conference by the invitation of Bishop David Graves and the affirmation of the cabinet. After an initial presentation to the cabinet, many of the AWF District Superintendents knew that Dr. Dingus could make an immediate impact on their district.
Due to the rural nature and vast geography of the Demopolis District, Rev. Newton felt that Next Step Ministry was the ideal place for Dr. Dingus to conduct a pilot project in our conference. Newton said, “After being in the Demopolis District for six months, I am seeing what wonderful ministry is taking place. Because we are spread out and in very rural areas of the conference, we often feel disconnected and disengaged from one other. Dr. Dingus’ desire to form partnerships resonated with me because I’ve seen other churches thrive when they share leadership, resources, ideas, facilities and passion for their ministry. Many of my fellow superintendents are also inviting him into their districts but I felt a sense of urgency to move us to a better place of engagement and vitality.”
Dr. Dingus acknowledged that he identified with the Demopolis District. “I’ve been in similar districts where ministry seems isolated. You have these pockets of population where it is thriving and other areas that have seen declines for various reasons that don’t know how they can sustain a Methodist movement. Each pastor in the district has unlimited phone and email support with me to customize what is right for their congregation,” Dingus explained.
This 12-month partnership will encourage movements beyond the church walls to connect and build relationships with others and to bring new people into the Kingdom of God. The ultimate goal is winning people for Christ, a value Bishop David Graves has emphasized since his installation in September.
Other seminars were led by Rev. Newton, Susan Hunt, Frank Dunnewind, and Rev. Dan Pezet; to name a few. To learn more about Next Step Ministry, click here