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Leaders lend a hand to local churches

Conference Lay Leader, Anne Soles, encourages local church leaders to make contact with five new staff of the Michigan Conference staff in order to partner for Christ-centered ministry.

 

ANNE SOLES
Conference Lay Leader

The Michigan Conference stretches from the Keweenaw to White Pigeon, from Alpena to Albion to Muskegon to Wyandotte. We did some good work at the 2018 Annual Conference.  Now, who will reach out, connect, and climb on. How can we make this new structure facilitate ministry?

The challenge now moves to the local church and local church leaders.

More about WHAT

It’s about leadership. The Conference vision statement cites Bold Effective Leaders.

Leadership has come from two conferences in the last few years – Vital Church Initiative, Paragraph 213 work, new church models and new church development.  Naomi Garcia, Gary Step, and Dirk Elliott — along with their teams — have been reaching out to congregations. The reach out and the response has been bold, sometimes unsettling, but effective. You can feel the difference.

Paul Perez, Sonya Luna and the Boards of Global Ministries have kept us missionally aware and engaged. We are now challenged to ENGAGE with missional work around the world and in our own back yards.

These broad strokes, from new church development to new accounting and pension work, are all a part of our structure. The challenge is now back to the local church. We must extend our hands.

As orientation, the Board of Laity lifts five “new” positions designed as hand-holds for local congregations. A local church leader can reach out and connect with all staff but particularly with what we have called the “Five Pack.”  Your resources now include Laura Witkowski (local leadership), Kathy Pittenger (children’s programs), Lisa Batten (Young Adults), Britney Stephan (multi-cultural programs) and Bridget Nelson (Youth programs).

More about WHO

These five positions are your go-to resources.

It’s a two-way street. This networking not only provides answers, recommendations or training to local congregations, but emerging or continuing local concerns can also move into the larger connection.  These five positions have the potential to become “blue highways” with two-way traffic.

Pick up the phone. There is someone to talk with you on the other end of the line. Here’s a phone directory of services and servants:

Coordinator for Children’s Ministry Initiatives:  Kathy Pittenger will have oversight of programs of the annual conference focusing on equipping and connecting workers with children’s ministries. “You can’t program with children” says Kathy.  But there is much to be done with adults throughout the state who are actively engaged in children’s ministry. Kathy will interface with Board of Congregational Life and Board of Young People’s Ministries as well as Congregational Vibrancy and Lay Leadership Development. Christ- Centered Mission and Ministry with the Director of Connectional Ministry is her work area.    

Coordinator for Young Adult Ministry InitiativesLisa Batten, newly from Wesley Fellowship Kalamazoo, will focus on young adult faith and leadership exploration and development opportunities. This responsibility has broadened from campus ministry to college age young adults (including community college students, working young adults, those in the military, etc.)  Also, a part of Christ-Centered Mission and Ministry with Benton Heisler, Lisa will interface with Mission Intern programs, Ministry Exploration, Division on Higher Education and Campus Ministry and the Director of Clergy Excellence.  Lisa may well be an anchor for young adults in your congregation who are reaching for new experiences.

Associate Director for Multi-Cultural Vibrancy: Brittney Stephen will work with our four racial-ethnic ministry committees emphasizing leadership development and congregational strength. Brittney will be in connection with racial ethnic local churches and with equipping of churches working on multicultural ministry initiatives. If your work in your community is leading to such an initiative, here is a place to reach out and find connection. Brittney’s work area will be Christ-Centered Mission and Ministry.

Associate Director for Lay Leadership Development: Laura Witkowski bubbles over with ideas and projects in lay ministry. Her work area is Vibrant Congregations with Dirk Elliott.  Her primary responsibility is nothing less than “Bold and Effective Leaders” in the context of vibrant congregations. This brings Laura’s work to Lay Servant Ministries and to the Board of Laity especially in ministry training for laity and an emphasis on missional cluster groups. VCI (Vital Church Initiative) and Commission on the Annual Conference training opportunities are major work areas for Laura. Laura stands as that one good phone call for your local church leadership development.

Coordinator for Youth Ministry Development: Bridget Nelson has been equipping and training leaders for Youth Ministry for the Detroit Conference. Now her work area has grown to include the entire new conference. As a part of the Vibrant Congregations team with Dirk Elliott, Bridget has an ear for your concerns and your goals and ideas that work. Your youth program is important to Bridget. Her reach-out connections include Board of Ordained Ministry Recruitment Committee and the Division on Youth Ministry.

More about HOW

These five staff positions and all staff positions are available on the new MichiganUMC.org. This Content Management System (formerly known as “web site”) lists Michigan Conference Staff along with photographs and contact information.  Text, call, e-mail, tweet and Facebook. Pages are being developed with additional resources. Stay tuned.

The new site will also make it easier to find other local leaders. Jennifer Gertz is working —right now and till it re-opens in August—on the EZRA data base. (You have shared your contacts, right?)  

It is time to make the connection.  A bold leader and an effective leader will reach out. On your mark! Get set! Go!