10th Conference Table
Spirited and constructive conversation around the topic of the new system of clustering churches in the nine new districts took place at the Conference Table session, held Saturday, February 26, 2005, at University Carillon United Methodist Church in Orlando. The process included Opening Worship led by the Rev. Jim Harnish, a statement of support for clusters by Bishop Whitaker, and overview of the definitions and plans by Rev. Wayne Curry and Mrs. Janet Kelley.
Questions for clarification and table discussion then followed led by Conference Lay Leader, Bill Walker. Surrounding lunch was a survey that was designed to get a reading from the participants of the areas that needed further clarification. Out of all of the discussion and the survey, four key issues emerged as needing further clarification.
First it is clear that the definitions and use of the terms, "cluster," "cluster teams," and "cluster team leaders" needs better communication.
The second issue is the need for clarification regarding clusters as a means of enhancing the spiritual formation and connections between churches as opposed to a programmatic or administrative entity.
Third, concerns relating to representation in the clusters and the cluster teams, communicated as "small-large" church, "rural-urban church," and "clergy-lay" dichotomies emerged and point to deeper trust issues, fears of connecting with folks who are different, and concerns regarding quality leadership.
The fourth major concern focused on matters of motivation and non-compliance. How do we get churches and leaders excited about clustering and how do we work with those who are not inclined to participate?
The leadership team will be taking these matters into consideration in planning the further steps for the implementing of the cluster relationships in the districts. Better communication about these matters will also be planned in response to their being raised at the Conference Table.
Watch the e-Review for more news on this event.
For more information on the Connecting for Transformation proposal, read the following articles in the e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service:
Delegates approve reducing number of districts
Delegates pass proposals to reshape conference entities, mission
Breakout sessions offer answers, pose questions
Establishing Cluster Communities in the Florida Annual Conference - an overview
Instituting Clusters: A Brief Summary
Clusters Q & A
The Conference Table was approved at the 2002 Florida Annual Conference event as a forum at which conference laity and clergy can discuss and discern how the Florida Conference can best fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
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