(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon
) - Bishop Leeland
and members of the Cabinet held their first meeting of 2015 in Montgomery. The session focused on the continued training of superintendents and extended cabinet members as coaches, a review of the state of the conference following 2014, and initial reflections on the scope of ministry throughout the annual conference as we begin the new year.
The Discipline outlines the role of the superintendent to serve as the "chief missional strategist" for the district. Through the training as coaches, superintendents are learning skills drawn from Appreciative Inquiry to help guide their conversations with clergy and laypersons in churches to enable them to dream, discover, and design the direction for ministry that lead to them fulfilling God's destiny in their lives.
In a review of the mission and ministry of the conference, the Cabinet met with Reverend Matt Mobley
and Dr. Jim Moore
, who serve on the Committee on Equitable Compensation, discussing the guidelines for eligibility for congregations and how to continue to move each of our churches to sustaining the full cost of pastoral support as they transition off of the assistance provided. An update on the progress of the Imagine No Malaria campaign was shared, showing that we are only 25% away from the conference goal of saving 100,000 lives. District leadership teams and local churches are asked to continue to identify opportunities for persons to take part in this initiative that is making a difference in the lives of those who live under threat of malaria on the African continent.
There is a desire to explore what possibilities there may be in the conference to renew our focus on the issues relate to children and poverty. We celebrate the work of CIRCLES taking place throughout our area and the task force being created to focus on children and poverty will look for ways to continue to address this matter that affects all of our communities throughout the conference.
Superintendents continue to look for ways to identify and secure effective clergy leadership for the annual conference in anticipation of significant numbers of retirements that will occur over the next 5-10 years. Through connecting churches internship programs that exist at colleges and seminaries, there is a desire to provide places of exploration for those considering or preparing for ministry. Seminary recruiting visits are being planned also. As part of the Comprehensive Plan for Inclusiveness, superintendents continue to seek leaders who will help the conference reach racial and ethnic groups that are underserved in the life of the church. Also, the conference is identifying places for new faith communities, with some of these communities emerging through the work of local churches and others are initiated through the Board of Congregational Development.
Administratively, the conference saw gains in the connectional giving for another year and we give thanks for the support from pastors and congregations for the ministries of the church. The process for completing the annual Year End Report data was reviewed and there is a focused effort to ensure all churches submit this information in a timely matter. Additionally, the process for the appointment preference forms for clergy and Staff-Parish Relations Committees was discussed and very early considerations were given to the upcoming pastoral appointments for 2015-2016.
And, as always, superintendents spent time sharing the pastoral and congregational concerns within their respective districts, praying for our colleagues and friends who have experienced difficulty in recent weeks, and celebrating with those who have experienced blessing and joy in their lives. The Cabinet is very mindful of the demands of ministry that we experience and know the sacrifice that takes place in the on-going efforts to share the Gospel with others and serve Christ's people in our communities. These moments at each Cabinet meeting illuminate our "life together" in connection with one another and we are grateful for the pastors of our conference, as well as their families, who minister to the people of Alabama-West Florida.
We look with hope and expectancy to what God will do in 2015 and continue to pray for our clergy and churches that we might all fulfill God's will for our lives in these days. Thank you for your leadership and for the ways you are bearing witness to Christ's love in the communities we serve.