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Greater Southwest District Conference 2019

November 9, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

The 2019 Greater Southwest District Conference and Training Day features workshops focused on best practices for local churches. We have several of our Michigan Conference specialists coming to offer their insight into what works for ministry with children and youth. We’ll also have workshops on how your church can be in ministry with our growing Hispanic population. In addition you’ll have opportunity to hear one of our long time Conference consultants offer their views on best practices for conflict management and church governance. And, for those who want to be prepared to respond to natural disasters in Southwest Michigan, the Conference’s new Disaster Response Coordinator will share some of the best ways to do that. Our day will conclude with lunch and the District’s annual business meeting. Join us for this opportunity to gain new ideas about how your church can connect in mission and ministry.

9:00 Registration
9:20 Welcome
9:30 Workshop I
10:45 Break
11:00 Workshop II
12:30 Lunch and District Meeting





Asset Based Community Development – Deacon Sandra Bibilomo
Are you looking for a way to engage in ministry with your community? Do you need some tools to help you make the connection? Do you believe that everyone in YOUR community has something to offer? If you answered YES to anyone of these questions, come to the Introduction to Asset Based Community Development workshop. ABCD is an approach that focuses on community assets and strengths rather than problems and needs, identifies and mobilizes individual and community assets, skills and passions, is community driven – building communities from the inside out, and is relationship driven. Deacon Sandra Bibilomo will introduce to some and remind others that the tools needed to impact our communities and love our neighbors is through a discovery process of identifying the gifts and assets of our neighbors through listening conversations and identifying the resources that are “already available.”

Disaster Ministry – How can the local church engage? – Nancy Money, Conference Coordinator for Disaster Recovery Ministries
This workshop will be a high level overview of how the local church can engage in Disaster Ministry and what resources are available.

Hispanic/Latino Ministries: Finding Ways to Connect
– Sonya Luna, Missionary for Hispanic/Latino Ministry
The workshop will look at barriers for developing Hispanic/Latino Ministries and ways to move beyond those barriers.

Protection Policy? Do we really need one?
– Rev. Kathy Pittenger, Conference Children’s Initiatives Coordinator
When asked about a Protection Policy (Safe Sanctuaries Policy) have you ever said or heard: “We are a small church and everyone knows everyone.” “That kind of thing won’t happen here.”? The reality is that about 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18 ( and approximately 1 in 10 older adults have experienced some kind of elder abuse while only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported ( We must be proactive to protect the children, youth, vulnerable adults, those who work in ministry with them, and our churches. This workshop will focus on the basics of the Protection Policy, why it is important, steps to create a policy, and how to train volunteers and leaders who work with them.

Imagining (and Re-Imagining) Ministry with Children
– Rev. Kathy Pittenger, Conference Children’s Initiatives Coordinator
Ministry with Children looks different today than it did 50, 25 or even 5 years ago. In this workshop we will explore important questions such as, why is ministry with children important? How do we lead effective ministry with children? What are best practices and strong models for ministry with children. We will also look at how to connect with children and families in the community and in worship and a brief overview of ideas for Advent.

Young Adults, where are they? – Pastor Lisa Batten, Conference Young Adult Initiatives Coordinator
This workshop will give a brief overview of ‘why’ young adults are missing from the church, address ways the church can respond, and how your church can be in ministry with young adults in your local context.

Difficult Conversations Can Be Less-Hard – Naomi Garcia, Conference Associate Director for Congregational Vibrancy
Part 1 – one’s perpetual preparation
Part 2 – the conversation: from start to a stopping place.
The people of God have settled for fitting in… at the expense of belonging.  A holy, complete, perfect belonging… the likes of The Holy One’s unconditional love… has been set aside. We’ve passively traded in the ongoing, eternal hard work of loving no matter what… for the short-easy of fitting in. What’s a faithful disciple to do with, to and about negative feedback loops, grumps whose only relational skill is complaining and those stuck in coasting?


November 9, 2019
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
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Portage Chapel Hill UMC
7028 Oakland Dr
Portage, MI 49024 United States
(269) 327-6643


Greater Southwest District
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