In many churches, late summer is a time for preparation and early fall a time to kick-off programs. Conference ministry is similar in that kind of planning. There are several pieces that will be put into place this fall and winter as Southeast Conference continues to be transformed into the ministry to which God calls us.
The designated term for the Conference Minister ends February 28, 2017. However, the delegates at our 50th Annual Meeting voted to proceed with calling an Interim Conference Minister. The Board of Directors is working on this process and will keep the members of the Southeast Conference informed. But there may be some timing considerations related to exit dates for me and start dates for the one that will come to serve you.
The recommendation to the delegates at annual meeting outlined other options including settled, another designated, or acting conference minister. The recommendation was to proceed with an interim as there is much work to be done yet to determine the plans for ministry in the Southeast Conference. I support that recommendation as it has taken all of my time here to address needs in the administrative and financial ministries of the Conference office. I am pleased to say that we will have strong Board leadership going forward and that there will be a solid organization foundation to build on including a balanced budget for 2017 when the Interim Conference Minister begins his or her service.
I often speak about “right-sizing the ministry” with churches in the search and call process and in local churches where I have been called as an interim minister. Every organization, including churches, have seasons of maturity and need and often our financial and administrative functions don’t mirror the current need. That is what I have tried to do in my time among you—right-size the ministry for our current situation and to build relational and connectional ministries so that you-the churches, pastors, and members of the Southeast Conference-become the conversationalists and decision makers that determine your own path for ministry as the Body of Christ in the Southeast Conference.
There are two immediate tasks for this fall. One is a project to convert all the pastor and church files and some administrative files to a digital format. Technology has been a great aid to us in connecting and reducing costs and we are increasingly sharing information by digital means whether in having access to files on-line or meeting via a web platform. The other project is to let go of our physical location and move to a “virtual” office. With recent staff reductions, my travel schedule, and no longer meeting in person regularly, we cannot continue to justify the cost of maintaining office space. I have been a conference staff person who worked out of a home office and it is very doable and certainly frees up resources for ministry rather than paying for a building.
The Board of Directors welcome your thoughts, questions, comments, anxieties, and hopes, as do I. Please do not hesitate to be in contact with the Board or the Conference Office if you have something to discuss or share.