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Updated: 1 hour 34 min ago

Treats and Fellowship at Annual Conference

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 00:00
As Annual Conference kicked-off Sunday night, youth from across our conference were treated to a special event with Bishop Scott Jones and his wife Mary Lou. After some recreation time in The Loft, the youth had dinner together from a food truck, then lined up for Mary Lou and Bishop Jones’ favorite dessert -- chocolate malts.
 
“When I was growing up, we always had malts on Sunday nights. As our children grew up, we made sure to provide all the malt fixings at our house to bribe all their friends to hang out,” Mary Lou says. “When we moved to the Great Plains Conference it’s something we started doing every time there were youth gathered at our home. It became a Jones family tradition,” she says.
 
Bishop Jones added that he loves opportunities to be part of youth ministry, before turning back to the line to say: “You can have any flavor you want – as long as it’s chocolate!” Mary Lou continued explaining “it’s one way we can provide a little servant leadership for the young people and try to make them feel welcome. Hospitality is one of my spiritual gifts and this is a way for me to help them feel at home. Wherever I am I try to make this happen.”
 
The youth gathering at Annual Conference had the option to choose between traditional and contemporary worship services for each session. Also present were several youth delegates with voice and vote. Eddie Erwin, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries said he and other leaders were available to answer questions and help the delegates along with the process and procedures so they could be included and experience all the 2017 Conference had to offer. “Tuesday we went to Conroe and helped with relief buckets and introduced them to the mission depot and archive depot to let them know other ministries the conference offers,” Erwin says.
 
Now youth groups are gearing up for trips over the summer and summer camp. The next opportunity for fellowship is the Texas Youth Academy  July 3-15. And for those wanting to connect with others, you are invited to connect via Facebook and Instagram.
 

An Evening of Learning with Dean Craig Hill

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 00:00
Perkins’ Dean Craig Hill helps believers tap into the power of honoring what God honors and seeking God’s opinion over that of others.
 
In the comic strip, Peanuts, it was Linus that once said, “I love humanity. It’s the people I can’t stand.” In his keynote address, Dean Craig Hill, Perkins Theological Seminary, acknowledged the relationship challenges humans have had from the days of the New Testament – and prior, due to a natural desire for personal significance.  That sense of personal value “lurks around every corner,” he shared, “urging us to question how we are doing as family members.” That natural tendency to evaluate self-worth,” he explained, “can become the source for us as pastors to crave feedback on our sermons and constantly compare ourselves to others in our same role. We can be so absorbed with self that we are unaware of others,” noted Dean Hill. 
 
He explained to attendees that when this happens, they should reflect on the following:
  1. If you put your sense of worth in something, what happens when that is lost or taken away?
  2. If you feel your value is in ____, what happens when someone better comes along?
  3. Being self-centered requires constant self-evaluation, which can lead to shaky ground, hurt feelings and even counter attacks.
  4. The need to ‘be somebody’ promotes self-justification.
  5.  What is a legitimate reason to feel significant?
  6. Everything focusing strictly on human significance fails at the grave.
 
“The disciples also struggled with comparing themselves to one another in Mark 9 when they argued about who was the greatest among them,” noted Dean Hill, “but Jesus redefines the terms of significance in John 13 when he washes their feet. Foot washing was the lowest of jobs, but he was the only one in the room who knew who he truly was, and was thereby free to serve.” Humans on the ‘hamster wheel’ often do not feel free to serve or connect deeply with God. Additionally, he observes, “Most unhappy people are scorekeepers.” Dean Hill believes Philippians 2 was written to address the bickering within the New Testament church by urging them to do nothing from selfish ambition but to regard others as better than themselves.
 
The crowd paused to discuss these application questions:
How do you distinguish good ambition from bad ambition?
How is ambition manifested in my church?
For what should our church be more ambitious? 

“Vocation is others-centered while career tends to be more self-centered,” he adds. “Paul cold still exercise his vocation as an apostle in the prison, but when we get caught up in career ambition that can be a recipe for frustration. Instead, we should focus on the endless opportunity to be useful regardless of where we are.”
In conclusion, Dean Hill helped the group know where to start.
  1. God is the one that justifies. “It is God’s opinion we should most solicit and believe,” he shares.
  2. Who is invisible that needs to be recognized? “As in the story of the widow’s mite, we should serve and honor what and whom God honors.”
  3. Develop a culture of service by having the depth of faith to nurture a distinctly Christian culture. “Rather than serving as leaders, we also must lead as servants.”
Video: Dean Craig Hill

Choosing Cultural Intelligence

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 00:00
Dr. Maria Dixon Hall began her address to Annual Conference with a critique of the current state of race relations and an eye toward unity while condemning traditional diversity and inclusion training which she says has only made things worse. A tenured professor at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, Dr. Dixon is also an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. Her keynote at Annual Conference covered not only where gaps exist in inter-cultural communication, but highlighted a new initiative launching at SMU to address inter-cultural misunderstandings in new ways.
 
“One of the things that is interesting is that every single generation has had to grapple with race,” she noted. “What makes [today] unique is that we have a means by which these protests and outrages [are] able to be communicated virally across campuses so that no longer did an issue stop at your campus… So we were left as many college campuses dealing with the same set of demands that may have been at Missouri, at Brown, may have been even at the University of Houston. What is interesting is this is no longer simply about race. Students were conflating a number of issues, whether it was sexuality, gender, religion, and what we found is that this changed rapidly from the idea of simply black and white. The other thing universities are grappling with is the fact that we are struggling with intellectual - for lack of a better word – frailty, with difference - with different opinions, with different ideologies, different ways of being. So difference on a college campus in the 21st century has taken on a complexity that has not been seen before.”
 

With an eye toward enhancing cultural intelligence, which she defines as “the ability to function, communicate and manage effectively in complex and changing cultural contexts” faculty approached administration at SMU. They decided to develop a program designed to tackle the issue by changing the way faculty, staff and students approach intercultural communication. To start, Dr. Dixon says they “had to deal with three very difficult facts:”
 
1. You can’t be a world changer if you can’t effectively engage the people in your own city
“There is an expectation by employers and communities that we at SMU are turning out people who can change the world. But you can’t change the world if you can’t talk to the world. That was the first thing we had to tell ourselves. We weren’t doing our jobs.”
 
2. Fifty-three years after legal segregation we are still living in a segregated society.
“This may not be popular to say, and I’m ok with that… The reality is this: we are more segregated and separated by color and age than we’ve ever been before. The statistics point it out well… We’re not talking about the people you work with. We’re talking about the people you invite over to dinner. The people you call just because. We’re talking about the people who might even have a key to your house.“
91% of whites only socialize with other whites in their private lives.
83% of blacks only socialize with other whites in their private lives.
64% of latinos only socialize with other whites in their private lives.
“None of us are truly engaged in diversity.”
 
3. Traditional Diversity and Inclusion Training have only made things much worse.
“We just need to be honest about this Traditional Diversity and Inclusion Training in my opinion has been one of the saddest developments that has emerged in the last 31 years… The truth of the matter is after 31 years diversity training has not given us any substantial change.”
 
Dr. Dixon said the new initiative they are launching in the fall is called CIQ at SMU as a signature initiative to address issues of diversity and inclusion. “The goal is not to appreciate diversity, but for every mustang to develop the skills and knowledge to effectively learn and work with people and in contexts that are diverse. It is designed that from the first day on campus until their last, faculty, staff, and students can learn and work to effectively create, collaborate and communicate in today’s culturally complex environment.”
 
Why are they going this route? The faculty, staff, and students “are leading increasingly segregated private lives yet expected to engage in integrated environment,” Dr. Dixon continued, adding that “success in the 21st century demands our ability to collaborate and communicate effectively within a complex cultural context… and for sustainable change to emerge, and entire cultural change is required.” She added.  “One of the things I like most about cultural intelligence is it allows us to walk away from the ineffective dance of intercultural etiquette. It moves us away from this idea that one group is always wrong and one group is always right. It moves us into the understanding that we all have a language to learn.  That we all have skills we need to learn.”
 
At its core, this is just “the idea that every one of us has a cultural language and that the more languages you learn the more multi-lingual you become and the more effective you become in your life… It doesn’t say anything about appreciation. It says we want you to be functional and effective in complex cultural situations. The bottom line is we want you to be able to do your job. Being able to complete the mission of the church regardless of the complex cultural situations you will see – whether that’s ethnicity or nationality, generational or organizational.”
 
She illustrated this point by discussing when we travel to new places, how we spend time and money researching other cultures, buying travel books, and learning key phrases so as to not offend or make mistakes that may get us into trouble. We want to know the “rules” of the new context. Or as she puts it: “How to stay off CNN while traveling… How do I make sure I’m not going to go to jail for touching or eating or doing something wrong?” She asks why we can’t use the “same motivation we use to not offend people who live over there… [and] utilize it for the people we live with every single day.”
 
As part of their CIQ initiative, they are launching an anonymous app called “ask me anything” that will
allow students, faculty, and staff to ask any question they have and it will be answered directly by staff or someone they can identify within the relevant community to answer it and make it available through their website. Dr. Dixon said they “want to make sure they’re leading and become a national voice.” She noted that they’re taking a new way and hope to be successful by moving beyond diversity toward cultural intelligence” so that “CIQ@SMU advances SMU as a national thought leader in higher education.”  Then, they “will be measured by the emergence of a culture where being culturally intelligent is the standard for being a member of the mustang family.
 
This article merely scratches the surface of the depth and breadth of the topics covered in Dr. Dixon’s presentation. I would urge you to set aside an hour to watch the entire video.

Laity Session: Equipping the Local Church

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 00:00
Lay Leader John Esquivel facilitated an interactive panel discussion outlining tools and resources to help local congregations interested in revitalization as well as engaging or re-engaging their diversified communities.
 
Several realistic challenges for local congregations -- and opportunities -- were addressed in the laity session, with input from Lay Leader John Esquivel and two panelists from the Center of Congregational Excellence (CCE): Center Director Rev. Dr. Jesse Brannen and Rev. Artie Cadar, incoming Coordinator of Mission Field Development.
 
How do churches access resources and tools from the CCE?
“We have tools and resource people that are specialists in a number of areas to help the local church with just about anything,” explains Jesse, “but it is best to call or email me as a first step. I will then set up a meeting with your church leadership to better understand what you need, and we will make a plan.” Churches seeking to look more like their immediate communities can contact Artie for assistance in outreach to a changing demographic. “It is my dream to be able to help congregations and train leaders to do the job that needs to be done to understand different faith traditions and cultures, meet needs and edify those in your respective mission fields,” adds Artie.
 
What is the greatest barrier to church revitalization?
“Many congregations do not have a realistic view of who they are in 2017,” shares Jesse. “Some churches may not realize they still live in the 1950s, but when you stop and notice how much people have changed you realize the church has to do less talking and more doing to adapt. My grown children, for example, don’t carry cash, and this major shift in social norms has an impact for churches passing the offering plate. I have visited churches with members more concerned about someone in their seat than saying good morning to a visitor.” According to Artie, “Pastors who are serving in churches that are frozen in the glory days can love their congregations  and pray for the Holy Spirit to warm their hearts.”
 
Why is the demographic environment important to a church?
“The community tells us if we are relevant or not, and if what we are doing has an audience, or any potential,” shares Jesse. “If parents choose soccer over church, then perhaps the church has not done its job demonstrating the importance of young people learning life lessons at church. And, likewise, if churches are wanting a lot of kids to attend church in a predominantly retired community, they could spend years working for something that isn’t there.”
 
How does a particular mindset impact the church?
Panelists reminded attendees that churches should not exist to serve members. Adds Jesse, “We need to be in ministry with others, not ministry to others. When you minister with people it is much harder, messier and more time consuming, but these relationships are what we are there for.” According to Artie, “Everyone has a role to play. If we want to save the lost, whatever the cost, we need to know who they are, what cultures they follow, and what they need before we introduce them to the church.” Responding to a comment from the crowd, John noted that some congregations prefer not to be inconvenienced by noisy children or others who do not know the norms of church behavior, but those congregations that are not inclusive will struggle with growth and vibrancy.  Shares Artie, “The church can decide to be ‘we four and no more’ or decide to pursue what God is calling them to be, because it only takes a spark to get something new going.” Jesse explains, “Size does not indicate health in a church. The churches that offer small groups, provide some kind of outreach to youngsters in the community, build on their strengths and look to the future are the ones that will typically be healthy.”

Video: John Esquivel's Lay Leader Address
 

Three-in-One Session Offers Triple the Insight

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 00:00
The Texas Annual Conference hosted their first ever TAC Talks presentation, in the style of popular TED Talks videos.
 
“Today, we are turning to people within our own Texas Annual Conference, because part of the learning is sharing of best practices and learning from each other,” announced Bishop Jones at the beginning of the session.
 
The first to speak was Cassandra Nunez, Galena Park United Methodist Church. Cassandra and her husband Cesar began a new ministry as part of the Hispanic Leadership Apprenticeship Program in the Texas Annual Conference.
 
When the church resolved to close their doors after 98 years, church planting began under the leadership of District Superintendent Andy Noel and Director of Missional Excellence Diane McGehee. The goal was to begin a new church that was more reflective of the city’s current population, and on Pentecost Sunday, 2016, the original congregation closed their doors, and passed the mantle to Cassandra and Cesar.
 
The two began learning more about the community, researching the neighborhood online, and more importantly visiting local businesses and making friends with the community. Trust, according to Cassandra, was a huge factor in creating relationships before they even began talking about faith. Their first breakthrough, Cassandra said, is when a friend recommended their church, calling it “the church that likes to help people”.
   
Casandra and Cesar began going by the church on a regular basis to pray, which is where they met some of the neighborhood children. According to Cassandra, “They were timid at first, but the children began to trust the couple after they played soccer together.” One year later, the church is now hosting bible studies, an after school program, and other community outreach programs.

We don't want to be church in the community, we want to be the community's church,-. Cassie Nunez. #txac17

— christy comma me (@The_Christy) May 30, 2017 On July 1st, Cassandra and Cesar will be appointed as full time local pastors at Galena Park United Methodist Church. They hope to continue their mission to be “not just a church in the community, but the community’s church.” See TAC Talk Video: Casandra Nuñez

 
The second TAC Talks speaker was Pamela Fulbright-Scheyer, director of Crossroads at Park Place, Inc., a homeless ministry in Houston. Pamela began her career as a lawyer, but found herself being asked to do more.
 
“A lot of people think that because I am an attorney, that qualifies me to do a lot of things, so when God called me to work outside of my comfort zone, I didn’t immediately say yes,” said Fulbright-Scheyer.
 
But saying “yes” became an important part of her journey, beginning when her pastor asked her to start a prayer ministry. As someone who was terrified to pray out loud, Fulbright-Scheyer says she learned to trust God like Moses and Gideon. “God has a plan for us, and sometimes that plan may surprise you,” she shared.
 
Later, when she heard God’s call to go into ministry full time, she thought He would provide her with a position. Instead, she just heard from God that she should quit her current job with no employment opportunities in sight.
 

'Sometimes we have to say yes and walk in fear with God- his plan will bring out the best in you, always' #tactalks#TXAC17 #txac

— Jordan Monroe (@Monroseph) May 30, 2017  
After some reluctance, she trusted God and did quit her job. Following that path she has become passionate about her work at Crossroads and other organizations. “My motto now is to ‘Turn Your Eyes’ to Jesus, because nothing is impossible when you turn your eyes to him,” ended Fulbright-Scheyer. See TAC Talk Video: Pam Fulbright-Scheyer

 
Paula Arnold introduced the last speaker, Rev. David Dorn of Marvin UMC, calling him a “social media guru”.
 
Dorn hooked even social media skeptics from the beginning of his talk by arguing, “The world is our parish, and the world is increasingly spending more and more time on social media, so we should have a presence there as well.”
 
As an experiment, he asked the crowd to open up the Facebook app on their phones and post a location based “check-in”. This posts a status to your Facebook friends, and lets them know that you are having a good time where you are. The first time they experimented with this technique at Marvin UMC on a Sunday morning, David said they reached over 10,000 people with what he called “free advertising”.
 
He also stressed the importance of creating content that is brief and easily consumable during the daily lives of social media users, in addition to having a sense of humor. As far as techniques, he also suggests the use of creating Facebook Ads by means of “boosting posts”. This allows churches to reach audiences in their neighborhoods who may be interested in visiting a church.
 

My two favorite things combined: Wesleyan theology and social marketing #TXAC17

— Shelby Olive (@photoshelby) May 30, 2017  
“There comes a point in everyone’s life when they start looking for more. They start looking for something deeper and more meaningful, and when that time comes, they are going to know where their friends and family are finding it, and it’s in my church. Hopefully it is in your church as well,” said David.
See TAC Talk Video: David Dorn

 

Planning Underway for 2018 Global Young People’s Convocation

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 00:00
Discipleship Ministries/ – A planning team is being assembled for the 2018 Global Young People’s Convocation (GYPC), which brings together the voices and ideas of United Methodist young people from around the world every four years.

The GYPC is scheduled for July 18-22, 2018, at the Indaba Hotel & Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, said Michael Ratliff, Associate General Secretary at Discipleship Ministries and head of the Young People’s Ministries (YPM) division.

“The Global Young People’s Convocation gathers young people from across to United Methodist connection to worship, learn and provide leadership for the church,” Ratliff said.

Formerly Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, the event name was changed to the Global Young People’s Convocation after the 2016 General Conference approved a change in the way delegations and individuals can propose legislation related to issues of concern to young people.
“The Legislative Forum, approved at the 2016 General Conference, will provide the basis for new ways to develop legislative proposals for submission to the 2020 General Conference,” Ratliff said.

Mighty Rasing, program development director for the Central Conferences, said YPM is working to ensure that all regions of the church will be represented to the event, where about 400 delegates are expected to participate.

“We are in the process of assembling the Planning Team, which will come from different Jurisdictions and Central Conferences, to help us design an event that reflects the global experiences of young people,” Rasing said.

Applications to become a member of the GYPC Planning Team will be accepted until Nov 30, 2016. More information 

Ratliff said several countries and venues in Africa, including Zimbabwe and Tanzania, were considered as the location for the convocation, which has been held every four years since 2006.

“The event will return to the Indaba Hotel in Johannesburg, where facilities, transportation and local laws, create a setting for young people and their leaders to gather and grow together,” Ratliff said.

The Indaba was the venue for the first Global Convocation in 2006.

See original post.


 

TAC 2017 Schedule for Wednesday 5-31

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 00:00
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
8:30 am           Business Session VI (Main Sanctuary)
Bracketed numbers indicate minutes allowed for each report. Please note your position on the agenda, and move toward the chancel area before your report is called.
Prayer
Retiree Video #5 [5]
Resolutions Presentation [15]
Lakeview Conference Center [5]
Matt Idom
Golden Care [12] – Kim Mabry
Retiree Video #6 [5]
 
9:20 am           Break
 
9:40 am           Business Session VII
Retirement Video #7 [5]
Clergy Recruitment & Emerging Leader’s
Endowment [5] – Elizabeth Duffin
New Faith Communities [5]
Communications & Social Media [5]
Paula Arnold
Episcopacy Committee “Transition” [5]
Karen Dorris
Unfinished Business [25]
Prayer
 
10:40 am         Break
 
11:00 am         Service of Sending Forth
Preacher: Dr. Roy James
 (Main Sanctuary)
 
12:00 pm         Adjourn


See Scheduled Meals

See Scheduled Meetings

TAC 2017 Schedule for Tuesday 5-30

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 00:00
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
8:30 am           Business Session III (Main Sanctuary)
Bracketed numbers indicate minutes allowed for each report. Please note your position on the agenda, and move toward the chancel area before your report is called.
Prayer                 
Retiree Video #3 [5]
Clergy Excellence Recognition [10]
Gail Ford Smith & Elizabeth Duffin
Youth & Young Adult Ministries [5] – Eddie Erwin
Election of Institutional Trustees [5]
B.T. Williamson
Conference Advance Special [5]
The Way Forward Report [10]
GBGM Report via Video [5]
 
9:20 am           Morning Devotional
 
9:40 am           Business Session IV
Retirement Video #4 [5]
C F & A Report [20]
Equitable Comp [5]
Prayer
 
10:10 am         Break
 
10:30 am         TAC Talks
 
Cassandra Nunez
Laity - Galena Park Lay Pastor
 
Pamela Fulbright-Scheyer
Laity – Houston-Servants of Christ CrossRoads Program
 
Rev. David Dorn
Associate Pastor for Tyler-Marvin UMC
 
11:30 am         Lunch             
 
2:00 pm           Service of Honoring Retirees  (Main Sanctuary)
 
2:40 pm           Break
 
3:00 pm           Business Session V
Nominations Report [10] – B.T. Williamson
Constitutional Amendments [60]
Prayer
 
4:30 pm           Dinner Break
 
7:00 pm           Service of Commissioning & Ordination
Preacher: Bishop Scott J. Jones  
(Main Sanctuary)
(Overflow Seating - Harvest Worship Center)
 

See Scheduled Meals

See Scheduled Meetings
 

TAC 2017 Schedule for Monday 5-29

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 00:00
Monday, May 29, 2017
8:00 am-6:00 pm        Registration-Clergy & Laity (Wesley Hall)
 
8:30 am           Business Session I (Main Sanctuary)
Bracketed numbers indicate minutes allowed for each report. Please note your position on the agenda, and move toward the chancel area before your report is called.
Prayer                        
Roll Call – Russell Hall [5]
Memorial Day Recognition
Rev. Kevin Otto [4]
Conference Lay Leader
John Esquivel [8]
Retirement Video #1 [5]
Consent Calendar [4]
UMW – A Celebration of 150 Years in    Ministry
Chancellors’ Report [10]
Retiree Video #2 [5]
 
9:20 am           Morning Devotional
 
9:40 am           Break
 
10:00 am         Laity Session
(Harvest Worship Center)
 
10:15 am         Clergy Session (Main Sanctuary)
 
11:30 am         Lunch Break
 
1:30 pm           Memorial Service
Preacher: Dr. Karen Dorris
(Main Sanctuary)
 
2:50 pm           Break
 
3:10 pm           Keynote - “Cultural Intelligence”
Dr. Maria Dixon Hall
 
4:10 pm           Business Session II
Board of Ordained Ministry
Jeff McDonald [25]
Benefits [25]
Pensions – Jerry Neff
Health – Jerry Massey
Prayer
 
5:00 pm           Dinner Break
 
7:00 pm           Evening of Learning - Dean Craig Hill
                        (Main Sanctuary)

See Scheduled Meals

See Scheduled Meetings

Appointment Announcements

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 00:00

New appointments have been announced. See the full 2017 list of appointments at http://www.txcumc.org/appointmentannouncements

Live Streaming Annual Conference 2017

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 00:00

All sessions of Annual Conference will be live-streamed through both YouTube and Facebook Live.

Videos will also be available on demand following the event on YouTube.

See scheduled events (PDF)

Learn more at  http://www.txcumc.org/taclive 

Extravagant Generosity Committee Provides Stewardship Insight “On Demand”

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00
Rev. Dr. Rodney Graves and committee members are available for pastors and congregations seeking to cultivate a culture of generosity.
 
True stewardship is not really about the church budget. McCabe Roberts Ave UMC Pastor Dr. Rodney Graves knows faithful stewardship is a vital part of each individual’s journey toward becoming a deeply devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. As the chair of the Extravagant Generosity Committee for the conference, he wants to help churches and congregants to re-engage in the journey toward faithfully following the Lord in every facet of life: from heads to hearts, hands, and homes. “When people truly realize who they are and whose they are, they can’t help but give to the God who has given us everything we have,” he shares.
 
However, he says the stark reality is that the typical Methodist gives 2-3% of their income to their church. “In addition to teaching about this as a spiritual discipline, I think our churches are also missing the opportunity to demonstrate their vision in action, because if parishioners understood the direct link between faithful giving and changed lives, they would instantly become generous givers,” he shares.
 
“Facilitating strong and vital churches is the focus of The Center for Congregational Excellence,” notes Center Director Dr. Jesse Brannen, “and one of the ways we do that is to form committees that provide free expertise to clergy and congregations upon request. The Extravagant Generosity Committee is eager to provide stewardship training, encouragement and hands-on support to our districts and churches of all sizes.”
 
One of the key lessons Rodney has learned and practiced in his own churches is what he calls the 4-Point Approach. “First of all, I LOVE them, then I LISTEN to them, then I am ready to LEARN from them, and finally LEAD them,” he shares. “I think our committee will operate the same way, approaching each situation with a customized response.”
 
Other committee members include Karen Ross, a member of Friendswood UMC, Rev. Melody Kraus of FUMC, Mt. Belvieu and Rev. Andrew Wolf of FUMC, Athens. Karen believes “generosity flows from love and a desire to help others.” She adds, “Giving is an integral to being a child of God and disciple of Jesus as loving, serving, and praying. It follows that teaching and encouraging fellow Christians to give and give extravagantly is as essential as teaching them to love wholeheartedly, to serve selflessly and pray ceaselessly. In the end, ministry and mission depend upon it. Our team can help. Don’t hesitate to call on the resources we want to provide.”
 
Rev. Kraus adds, “I think the biggest hurdle in receiving the monetary resources that congregations need to fulfill the mission of the church is simply articulating a clear and compelling reason why a member SHOULD give.” Passing the offering plate in the 21st century, she believes, is not enough. “Worshippers need to know how their monies are making a difference. They need to see faces, vision and lives changed – not spreadsheets, deficits and bills due. It is compelling to catch a glimpse of the kingdom right in our own backyards.”
 
“Money follows vision, so our first stewardship tip will be to give congregants a scripture-based, compelling vision for the church, noting where lives are being changed and where all funds are funding that vision,” Rodney adds. “Even if money is needed to fix equipment or the building, the ultimate purpose of that equipment or building is to do ministry.”
 
Another truth related to cultivating generosity is to lead by example. “We cannot expect our people to tithe in any consistent way if their leaders do not practice what they preach,” Rodney shares. “As we invite others into relationships with Jesus, some degree of tithing is important to our witness and our own faithfulness journey. Rather than focus on a certain percentage, each of us should strive to be a generous and what the Bible calls a ‘cheerful’ giver.”
 
Some of the committee’s favorite resources include Herb Miller’s Consecration Sunday Stewardship Program and the book, Rich Church, Poor Church by. J. Clif Christopher.
 
For church leaders panicked about giving levels, or aging congregations facing declining membership and reduced incomes, this committee can provide encouragement and ideas. “Sometimes I think it might be as simple as getting excited about what we are doing or can be doing in our community,” Rodney adds. “And sometimes I think we drop the ball in reporting back to our churches how their giving helped send kids to camp, or build wheel chair ramps for the elderly, or start a food ministry.”
 
One of Rodney’s favorite teaching examples is a parallel between heavenly giving and earthly giving. “If I say I love God but never express that by giving back to him, it is a bit like me saying I love my wife, but I spent all my money at the racetrack,” Rodney explains. “It’s true that you can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving….For God so loved the world that he GAVE.”
 
Annual Conference Breakfasts
Representatives of the Extravagant Generosity Committee will be speaking at the Local Pastors’ Breakfast and the Small Membership Church breakfast during the 2017 Annual Conference. Adds Melody, “We want to partner with churches of any size to help celebrate and articulate their mission, vision and kingdom opportunities.” (Anyone wanting to talk with committee volunteers or seek training can contact Marylyn Green at The Center for Congregational Excellence at mgreen@txcumc.org or 713-521-9383.)
 

Watershed UMC: A Case Study in Discerning Long Range Vision

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00
Leaders at The Watershed UMC in League City, Tx have been working for months to have 20/20 vision with regard to what Rev. Lance Richards is calling the “15/1500 Vision.” Knowing that the area is expected to reach 250,000 residents over the next few decades, The Watershed leadership began last year to refine the long range vision of the church to connect more people with the opportunity to grow their faith and impact the community.
“Basically,” explains Rev. Lance Richards, “in 15 years, The Watershed hopes to gather as 1500 worshipers each week who are growing as disciples and Christian leaders working to meet the spiritual and physical needs of their neighbors. And as we approach 1500, we want to plant another campus in a growing area that needs a church.”
 
Having purchased 11.5 acres in 2009, the church has celebrated a number of milestones in recent years, including completion of a building in 2012. The 15/1500 campaign has followed by laying groundwork for a capital campaign that will provide funds for additional growth in the decades ahead.
 
Inspiration Meets Perspiration
Several books by “vision clarity evangelist” Will Mancini, a variety of articles and the book, Holy Conversations by Gil Rindle and Alice Mann provided the pastor with the inspiration for this extensive visioning process to provide guidance for 2017-2032. “Initially, we had to clarify that our Vision Focus Team did not plan to change the vision, just look further out in the distance to define a picture or mountain top in our future so we could map out the milestones to get there,” Lance adds. “Vision always remains connected to a church’s core identity or DNA.”
 
With the approval of the Church Council, The Watershed formed a task force of six volunteers representing the segments of our diverse membership, led by chairman Skip Hatfield and the pastor. The team surveyed the membership and lay leaders at the church by asking the same four questions: 1) How is The Watershed helping you to grow as a disciple? 2) How can the church better help you and your family strengthen your walk with Christ? 3) Where are the broken places in our community that you feel God is calling The Watershed to shed God’s love to? 4) What are your dreams for The Watershed?
 
The task force subdivided into mini teams to also tackle a community survey and MissionInSite demographic study. “My conversation with the mayor has already led to several positive things,” adds Lance. “I booked a 30 minute appointment to discern his vision and how we could partner with him and he ended up spending several hours with me. He has since created a clergy forum that has already met twice to get acquainted and collaborate on behalf of League City.”
 
The Vision Focus Task Force also held four “Listening Tours” and the church voted unanimously at a Charge Conference to approve the 15/1500 Vision this spring. In response to a question, Skip noted, “We know, realistically, this won’t be exactly what is in place 15 years from now, but we know if you don’t have a goal you are likely not to do anything differently.”
 
For leaders wanting more information about this visioning process, the original charter, along with an extensive white paper summarizing the process and key findings and a video of one of the meetings is available. More information is online at http://www.thewatershedchurch.com/vision.
 
 
What’s Next?
The detailed data resulting from all of the surveys has presented The Watershed with a number of targeted opportunities ranging from providing ESL classes to possibly adopting a public school. “We are also focusing on developing a discipleship pathway to help people take steps toward our Deeper Groups, we are considering our staff and lay positions that will help us grow the number in worship, and we are hoping to update our facilities plan,” he says. “While we dream of the day we have 1500 in worship,” he adds, “we plan to grow small, by developing community through lots of small groups throughout the area.”
 
Pastor Lance is currently preaching a sermon series that expounds on each of the adopted values that also serve to align with missional measures. “We will know when we are successful in fulfilling our vision when the children around us have what they need, marriages and parents are stronger, members feel connected and stronger in their faith, and we are able to shed God’s love to the greatest extent possible.”

Costa Rica Here We Come

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00

Over two dozen high-school-age youth will head to serve the people of Los Guido with West University UMC this July, knowing they will be blessed in the process.

For the last 12 summers, enthusiastic and energetic teens from West University UMC have headed to Costa Rica for mission work, and returned with a new sense of camaraderie and gratitude. Shelby Smolen, Director of Student Ministries, has been on 11 out of the last 12 trips and sees the life impact in her students. “Each of us sees poverty that we have never been exposed to,” she shares, “and it opens our eyes in a way that can’t ever be shut again. It is so powerful, our students and chaperones return home feeling called to continue helping others in need here in the Houston area, and return the following summer to do more for the people of San Isidro de Grecia and Los Guido.”

Each summer, the students do a variety of ministry projects in the area around the Strong Mission Center started by UMC missionary Charlie Strong. “The students take turns summarizing the day on our Facebook page blog for parents and friends to follow. Once we return, we compose a highlight video to show in church. We then have reunion gatherings to view the longer video as we enjoy Costa Rican cuisine.”

Recapping the 2016 trip, these students shared their experiences. “Los Guido is home to about 30,000 people and 13,000 kids,” says Emily Hawes, “and it is one of the oldest slums in the area. It is in a larger area known as el desperados, which translates to desperation, forsaken and forgotten – which is how many of the people feel describes their situation.” Emily’s bunkmate, Victoria, says she “made a connection with the family of a little girl named Xlanny. After talking to her and helping her with VBS crafts we ended up sharing many laughs and funny faces.” The students also helped with a feeding program providing the area children with at least one nutritious meal a day. Adds Victoria, “After lunch was devoured it was time to say our goodbyes, which was the hardest part for me. Even though I barely knew Xlanny and her family, I had developed a bond I will never forget.”

Nathan Edmondson, Graham Newick, Grayson McCarley and Andrew Donnell enjoyed the teamwork aspect of their work day to add on to the facility at Strong Mission Center. Some tackled rebar in the kitchen area and others did concrete work while a third group went into the jungle to clear a pathway to the property. “We needed to move several hundred pounds of leaves and branches so the four of us rose to the challenge,” the guys reported on the youth blog. “The Tarp, combined with our unmatched teamwork, brute strength, coordination, companionship, and team chemistry gave us the ability to maneuver the eight foot pile of leaves, making countless trips back and forth. The only thing that kept us going was our dedication to the cause.”

The 2017 trip countdown is underway, and 28 students and adults are ready, willing and able to get back to work – and swim amidst scenic beaches and waterfalls. “A lot of our group felt they sensed God while at the beautiful waterfalls,” shares Sadie Jensen. According to Shelby, this summer is extra special for two reasons. “This summer, a student from a church in Minnesota, will join us, and secondly, we will host our first-ever all-church mission trip to Costa Rica which will follow the student trip, and will be led by our senior pastor, Rev. Carol Bruse.”

Evening VBS: A Convenient Alternative for Volunteers and Families

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00
FUMC Huntsville offers local families the opportunity to drop kids to VBS after work, a strategy that attracts many participants from the community.
 
After moving to Huntsville about a year ago, Krisha Goodney began looking for a new church to join. “Last summer, we tried the VBS and just fell in love with the people at First United Methodist Church,” she says. “I went to VBS with my children each evening and participated by volunteering with a specific age group. For parents that work during the summer I can see how an evening VBS would be great for them.”
 
FUMC Huntsville has successfully hosted an evening VBS for a number of years, and will do so again July 31st thru August 3rd 6pm to 8pm. “Since the majority of our church families, our volunteer base, work during the day, the evening VBS works better for them to be able to join us,” shares Briana McCord, children’s ministries director.
 
Since August can be a tight month for families getting their kids ready for school, FUMC Huntsville has also used the evening slot as a chance to serve dinner for the community during that week. “A free warm meal for the entire family is a wonderful reason to stop by,” she adds. “We have served over 200 meals every night for VBS, and only 65 of them were VBS children. “ She looks forward to the completion of the new Community Life Center to be able to resume the 5:30 pre-VBS meals again.
 
VBS committee member Sabrina Hendricks says, “We have had a great response to evening VBS, and we’ve started a trend within our community. Originally we were the only church that offered an evening program, however over the past few years many other local churches have begun an evening program as well. I think  they have seen the same benefits that we have. And when we served dinner, many adult volunteers were able to speak with our guest families, pray with and for them. It was a wonderful feeling knowing that we were loving God's people in such a simple way.” 
 
The church has chosen August for VBS to try to avoid overlap with other churches in the community, which also boosts participation. “This year our VBS theme is Passport to Peru: Discovering God’s Good Gifts. This is our first year to use cross culture VBS and I am so excited to introduce our kids to a new culture. Many of our kids may never travel out of the United States, so I think it is important to show them the world outside of our community. It has been my personal experience that participating in different cultures broadens our worldview and reminds us how great and big our God is and how important it is for us to share his love to others.”
 
“I think each year our church has done a great job at making the theme's come to life with the decorations, music, and our enthusiastic volunteers,” adds Sabrina. “The children really love it when you go over-the-top with decorations, and when the music is up-beat and fun.” Area churches often share and recycle decorations and materials when possible.
 
Briana recruits about 50 volunteers for VBS every year, in two rotations, a group for 1st – 3rd and a group for 4-6th  grades. They offer a self-contained Pre-K class and Kindergarten group that goes through the rotation within one classroom instead of traveling. Each age group has shepherds that are responsible for leading their age group through their rotations and getting them signed out by parents. Out of all the various volunteer jobs she’s done, Jackalyn Cauthen enjoys being a shepherd most of all, she says, “because you get to go along with the children to every lesson and watch them learn throughout the week.”
 
“All of our volunteers are crucial to a great VBS experience because it is their enthusiasm that gets the kids excited to be there and to learn! I find volunteers through personal contact and publicize via an announcement slide in worship saying we need VBS volunteers,” she adds. “I will also take flyers to Sunday School classes, but it is in my experience that volunteers respond best to personal contact.”
 
On the last evening, the parents/guardians are always invited to attend the closing ceremony where each grade level performs a song and watch a slideshow of pictures that have been taken to showcase the week's events.  Also, adds Sabrina, “each year we send invitations home to the families that list our Sunday Service times inviting each family to join us. The first Sunday after VBS is always a showcase during the worship services where all children at the service that attended VBS perform one of the songs from the week.”  
 
VBS Plus: Engaging the Older Students
FUMC Huntsville youth always volunteer as classroom helpers and they assist in set-up/take-down. “And, the children love it when our youth get up to dance to the music,” adds Sabrina. Youth director Derek Blackmon strategically plans events after each night of VBS for the youth -- to encourage their participation. “After VBS, the youth that volunteer have special events that last normally until 10pm.  It’s a good incentive to have them sign up and help,” he says. “In past years that has included activities such as a movie night, bowling, blacklight dodgeball, board games, a scavenger hunt in Walmart, Wii tournament, and silly string fights. At the end of the week we wrap it up with a pool party and pizza.”
 
Word of mouth works well for getting VBS registration underway. Additionally, the event’s publicity plan includes promoting VBS on Facebook, the local radio station, the local newspaper, signs around the community, and email. “I would say between 1/3 and half of our attendees are non-church members,” adds Briana.
 

It’s Official: “Adoption Merger” Between Chapelwood Houston UMC and Fair Haven UMC is Underway

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00
Truth be told, the process of shaping the partnership between Fair Haven and Chapelwood Houston began early this year when members of both congregations began discussing the “what ifs” and the opportunities to double their ministry impact as a team. Central South District Superintendent Andy Noel describes it this way: "Following votes by both congregations, the adoption merger between Fair Haven and Chapelwood is made possible by a shared love of the Spring Branch mission field. United by the Holy Spirit and a sense of excitement, these congregations are coming together to serve as a vibrant witness to the love of Jesus Christ. Spring Branch is a microcosm of Houston . . . diverse, growing, and dynamic. I envision this type of ministry merger model will someday help other churches to more effectively serve God's people along the highways and byways of our great city – and conference."
 
Fair Haven UMC Pastor Paul Thomasson has rallied behind this idea from the start, calling this a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for Fair Haven to have the financial and staff support of Chapelwood to continue and expand their continued ministry impact for generations to come. Lay Leader Lisa Johnson has been in the center of the action on the Study Team and now serves as a member of the Communications Team and Co-chair of the Ministry and Missions Team.
 
Next Steps
“Now we move to the just do it phase,” reports Lisa. “The transition team, with diverse representatives from both congregations, is planning to meet monthly, and the “Tiger Teams” – or task teams – are in the process of being formed and will do the labor of gathering information and documents, assembling specific strategies, and generally keeping the transition team informed.” The various teams, she says, are working together to make the transition “gentle and joyful” and team members know to expect the unexpected. “We don’t know how long this will take, so we are planning for plenty of prayer as we watch, listen, and move forward.”
 
Stronger Together
Chapelwood Pastor Dr. John Stephens is excited about Fair Haven’s great history in the Spring Branch neighborhood of Houston. Notes John, “Fair Haven members had the desire and the love for their church and the community, but due to a lot of factors they were not able to accomplish their mission as effectively as they would have liked. Therefore, this merger is a union of two churches who want to do kingdom work in the community of Spring Branch by aggregating resources, aligning strategies, and learning best practices from each other as we work together.”
 
He is also energized by the model of this merger as a strategy for revitalization in the United Methodist Church. “Churches often focus on a lot of issues that really don’t strike at the heart of our mission – but this merger is laser focused on making disciples of Christ and making the kingdom of God a reality in our communities.”
 
Pastor John and Transition Team leader Rev. Josef Klam believe the first-year goals are exciting and realistic. For example, Rev. Andy Cunningham will be the community pastor at the Fair Haven campus and will spend much of the summer getting to know the people and the community. Adds John, “We have several consultants coming in to help us think through mission and ministry in the short- and long-term as we work through the changes that will make us stronger. We want to clarify and raise our multi-cultural profile in the community to make sure all feel welcome in this diverse section of Houston.”
 
Members of Fair Haven UMC will become members of Chapelwood UMC - worshiping and participating in the Fair Haven worship community with the same structure that is in place for all the Chapelwood worship communities, which include Sanctuary, Mercy Street, The Center for Christian Spirituality, Upper Room, The Branch, and Holy Family.
 
Strategy and Mission
According to Chapelwood Executive Pastor of Discipleship Bob Johnson, “Part of Chapelwood’s vision for reaching Houston for Jesus Christ includes revitalizing its current worship communities and developing new worship communities where God leads. Several years ago, the church made a commitment to be open to partnerships that could advance the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.” Through the merger, Chapelwood welcomes its seventh worship community as the Fair Haven Worship Community of Chapelwood United Methodist Church.

Personal Perspectives
Debbie Eng, a Fair Haven UMC member for 17 years, is using her professional experience on the Transition Team. “I have project management experience with mergers and acquisitions, as well as web experience and data consolidation -- all of which the transition project will use,” she says. ”I am most excited about the opportunity to reach so many more people. The people around me are excited about the changes and can't wait to start. Likewise, Tracy Little, the outgoing Board of Stewards/Administrative Board Chairman at Chapelwood adds, “What excites me about this merger is the potential it brings for expanding the Kingdom and reaching more folks for Christ. How quickly our two congregations adopt changes -- that help us move forward together -- will determine where we are three years from now.”
 
Transition team member Mark Greek has a membership history with both congregations. He says, “I think both congregations know there will be inevitable bumps in the road, but in my mind, there is no question that God's hand is on this merger and that together we are in a much stronger position to serve the Kingdom than we would be separately!”
 
Chapelwood has these unique worship communities that maintain their own context and DNA,” adds Josef, “which is particularly important to me in this case, because I grew up at Fair Haven – baptized and confirmed there, and have enjoyed reuniting with longtime members that remember me as a youngster. I know the process from here won’t be easy but I am convinced it will be a great journey.”
 

New Communication Director: Shannon Martin

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00
After serving the conference for 5 years as Communication Director, Paula Arnold is retiring on June 15, 2017. Bishop Scott Jones has selected Shannon Martin as the new director beginning June 5th. Shannon was the communications director for the conference from 1995 to 2000. At that time, she resigned to be a stay-at-home mom. She did however, stay active in her local church. She was part of a new church plant that has grown into Faithbridge UMC in Spring, Texas.  As is often the case in church plants, Shannon was part of a lay member team that acted as volunteer church staff for the first year.  The success of Faithbridge is known throughout the conference as one of our most vital, growing congregations.

Shannon has taught a course title “Don’t Panic, It’s Just the Media” to seminaries, and other non-profit organizations. She has also offered her talents to numerous entities including Providence Classical School and National Charity League.  Shannon is a semi-professional photographer as well as public relations and marketing professional.

She lives in Spring, Texas with her husband David, daughter, Zoe, (18) and son, Wyatt (16). Shannon shares, "I am delighted to be returning to the Texas Conference and look forward to helping our conference and churches tell its story through every Communications means possible."
 

Tips for Pastors and Congregations in Transition

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 00:00

It is that time again - time for boxes, packing tape, moving trucks, and parsonage workdays. The Bible has wisdom to offer for those moving appointments, “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) And for those that seem to have nothing to hang on to in the midst of change - “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). In addition to the wisdom from scripture here is a tip, a trick, and a resource for you to use no matter where you are in the constellation of change.

Transition Tip: Watch for the End of the Honeymoon
Psychologist Bruce Tuckman first came up with the memorable phrase "forming, storming, norming, and performing" in his 1965 article, "Developmental Sequence in Small Groups." He used it to describe the path that most teams follow on their way to high performance. Later, he added a fifth stage, "adjourning" (which is sometimes known as “mourning").  Pastors who are moving and churches who are welcoming new clergy can take a tip from Dr. Tuckman.  The first stage in creating a team is ‘forming.’  We’ve all experienced the polite, positive atmosphere that permeates the first few months after the pastor arrives. There is an excitement in the air about what new things might be possible.  We sometimes refer to it as the ‘Honeymoon Stage.’  We may not notice it in the moment, but we all know, as with other relationships, it will eventually move into the second stage, which the author calls ‘storming.’ Storming happens as people test the boundaries. It may be a challenge to the vision or mission of the church.  It might be a challenge to the pastor’s authority. More often than not it is a conflict or simple misunderstanding between team members' natural working styles. Here is the tip: Watch for the change from forming to storming. Instead of deciding that the ‘thrill is gone,’ remind yourself that you, the church you serve, and the leadership you share is normal. And, know that experience of ‘storming’ only means you are moving towards high performance.

Transition Trick: Prepare a (Professional) Description of Your Leadership Style to Share
While you are enjoying the ‘forming’ stage, begin to build trust with your leaders by sharing about yourself and your leadership style. A great resource for clergy in knowing your style and sharing it is your Birkman Personality Report Binder. Most Texas Annual Conference clergy have a Birkman Binder through either the Refresh Renewal Program of the Center for Clergy Excellence or through the Residency Program provided through the Board of Ordained Ministry.  The report binder contains pages and pages that describe you: your interests, you at your best, the environment that you thrive in, and what it looks like when you burnout, blowup or fizzle out.    To help your new staff and leaders better understand you, consider pulling a few highlights from your Lifestyle Grid. Take the last sentence of each of the paragraphs and combine them to make a short blurb about your leadership style.  For example if I were to do that with my report binder and substitute my name, I would have a blurb that says:

Peter enjoys very people-centered activities. When Peter is working effectively, he is generally direct and commanding. To be most effective, Peter responds best to people who are objective and decisive. When other people don't deal with Peter the way his needs suggest (by being objective and decisive), he may become impatient and demanding.

Now you have a ready-made statement to use to help others understand your style.  The statement could be a helpful trick to avoiding some of the obstacles that can turn a time of ‘forming’ into a time of ‘storming.’

Resource for Those in Transition
For those interested in a resource to use in light of the above discussion about leadership transitions consider using a coach or consultant.  For those who are welcoming a new pastor, or a new associate pastor, or for pastors who are taking their first ‘pastor in charge’ appointment I would encourage you to take advantage of a structured coaching arrangement with one of the Texas Conference Birkman Team Coaches. The structured program could include a preview phone call with a coach to orient leaders to the program and to establish a timeline.  Then the welcoming key leader (Senior Pastor, Chair of PPRC, etc) and the new leader (Associate Pastor, Senior Pastor, etc.) receives a Birkman Report that compares their similarities and differences. The report highlights only the most significant differences and the strongest similarities. The report also has phrases to help each leader understand the other leader’s differences in terms that make sense. The program could include one-on-one phone coaching for both the welcoming leader and the new leader.  Some programs also include check-in phone calls for the new leader at 1, 3, and 6 months into the new appointment. These check-ins can be expanded to include coaching around an action plan, or goal setting, etc.

An Example
When Rev. Guy Williams learned of his appointment two years ago to The United Methodist Temple in Port Arthur, TX he called a member of the Texas Conference Birkman Coaching Team and asked about resources that might help speed up his orientation and joining of the team. As the Texas Conference Birkman Team Coordinator, I suggested utilizing a program of paired reports and coaching phone calls to help Rev. Williams lead the current intact staff and leadership team into the next chapter of ministry along with a team of lay staff and a full-time ordained associate pastor.  Rev. Williams said, “I was excited about having a clergy colleague as a partner in ministry, in particular one who was familiar with the congregation from having served here the previous year.”

Rev. Williams and Rev. Adam Muckleroy both had previously taken the Birkman Method Assessment. I scheduled a pre-consult with both pastors individually then shared paired reports with both of them at once.  In addition to the reports, both pastors were given some suggested actions to help build trust, and collaboration between their working styles.

When asked what it was like to receive the comparative reports Rev. Williams said, “Having the comparative reports was an exercise in humility, in a good way. Adam and I used this exercise only a month or so into our relationship, so I was able to operate with much better self-understanding and understanding of him from the very beginning. I gained insights that would have taken at least six to nine months to come by otherwise.”

Rev. Williams saw the benefit of the structured program. He says, “The most direct outcome of using the comparative reports and a structured discussion was taking into account insights into our relationship immediately in our weekly one-on-one meetings. I was able to give Adam the sort of feedback that is more effective for him. Also, I found it helpful for him to have permission to ask more clearly for what he needed from me on a project. I better understood where he was coming from because of our comparative reports and conversation.”

Rev. Williams also reflected on how previous transitions could have benefited from a similar program by saying, “I would have loved having this experience when I was an associate pastor. I worked for some wonderful senior pastors, but our ministry partnership would have been greatly enhanced with the deeper and more relevant understanding that comes through this process.”

Adam admits that this time of pastoral change brought a mixture of excitement and apprehension. “Comparing our Birkman reports gave us a good starting place to get to know each other. This gave me trust in Guy that he cares enough to work through the comparative report with me. Since I am highly detail oriented, it was helpful to learn that Guy had a natural optimism and confidence in seeing the big picture which helped me to wait on the detail questions and to enjoy and dream about the ‘what if’ questions with him.”

If you are interested in learning more about how the Birkman test can help you during a transition and beyond, or would like to arrange for your leaders to benefit from a structured program to help establish trust and collaboration among new leaders, call Dr. Peter Cammarano at 979/665-7096 or email petercammarano@gmail.com or Nancy Slade at Center for Clergy Excellence.

 

 

 

Third Ward Community Cloth

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 00:00
The Church and Society Committee of Trinity UMC Will Host the Third Ward Community Cloth June 6. 2017 from 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. at 
Trinity United Methodist Church 2600 Holman, Houston, Texas.

Thread Focus:  Mental Health Awareness and Services in the Houston Community
Guest Speakers:  Dr. Clemelia Richardson, LCSW Administration Manager, Mental Health, City of Houston
Tiffanie Williams- Brooks-MA, LPC- Practice Manager 
The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD
Miguel Navarro- MA, LPC - Clinical Team Leader- The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD
Houston Police Department- Mental Health Division
Information tables and resources will be provided by the following agencies and organizations:  The Golden Care Initiative – The United Methodist Church and The Methodist Hospital- Texas Annual Conference
My Brother’s  Keeper Program, City of Houston  - DBSA of Houston- NAMI Services of Houston—The Faith, Family and Health Collaborative, MD Anderson Hospital -Houston ISD Student Support Services
 

Charis Spiritual Director Training

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 00:00
Charis Spiritual Director Training Class 5 begins with a Lakeview retreat at the end of August. 
Application deadline has been extended to July 15!

For more information about spiritual direction, the training program, or to begin the application process, visit http://charis-txcumc.org/

 

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