Congregational transformation ministry gets boost with new staff

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Congregational transformation ministry gets boost with new staff

Dec. 6, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0771}

NOTE: Headshots of the Revs. Liana Perez-Felix and Dr. Phil Maynard are available at

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — The Rev. Dr. Jeff Stiggins says the Florida Conference’s congregational transformation ministry is progressing in its development and knowledge, with new tools being developed to help strengthen local congregations.

Because of that expansion, several staff have joined Stiggins, executive director of the Office of Congregational Transformation (OCT), to put those new components and plans into action.

The Rev. Liana Perez-Felix became director of Hispanic Congregational Transformation last July, and the Rev. Dr. Phil Maynard joined the ministry in early September as OCT’s director.

“Since congregational transformation is a rather new endeavor — no one talked about congregational renewal in 1960 — everyone involved in it is reading and talking to others in the field, experimenting, adjusting to improve results, and figuring it out as we go along,” Stiggins said.

Part of that figuring out for Florida is the addition of Perez-Felix and Maynard.

Reaching Hispanic communities

Rev. Liana Perez-Felix

Perez-Felix has many years of experience as a professional educator and pastor of congregations in her native Puerto Rico, Tennessee and Missouri. She has been a district superintendent in Puerto Rico and served on the Memphis Conference staff in a position similar to her job in Florida. She was also an episcopal candidate from the Memphis Conference in 2003.

Stiggins said Perez-Felix is focusing primarily on strengthening Hispanic congregations and helping Anglo congregations develop ministries to people in their neighborhoods who are culturally Hispanic. A portion of her responsibilities also includes working with the Florida Conference Center for Clergy Excellence in developing Hispanic pastoral leaders.

“She has been deeply involved in The United Methodist Church’s plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries and has written a number of manuals and articles related to ministry in Hispanic congregations,” Stiggins said. “Prior to coming to Florida she taught in the Florida Hispanic Institute, sponsored by our Hispanic Assembly, and was very well-received. We are pleased to have her.”

Perez-Felix said she is looking forward to reaching out to the conference’s more than 70 Hispanic congregations.

“I have experienced a great reception,” she said of her beginning with the conference. “I am definitely excited about the possibilities.”

One of the responsibilities Perez-Felix said she most looks forward to is updating the style of worship of some of the conference’s Hispanic churches. She said some of the congregations lack energy; they do not function as a church in mission.

The conference’s district superintendents are helping Perez-Felix achieve her area’s goals. They are working closely with her in identifying Hispanic congregations that need assistance.

“I am here to help,” she said. “I want to work with pastors to help them enhance their congregations.”

Helping congregations re-vision, re-focus

Rev. Dr. Phil Maynard

Maynard will be working with churches involved in ReFocus, a two- to three-year transformation process that helps congregations rediscover their vision and ministry. It is designed for churches that aren’t quite ready to undertake the Natural Church Development process. Currently, ReFocus is being used as a pilot program in the conference’s East Central District.

Maynard will also be training ReFocus facilitators and Natural Church Development (NCD) coaches.
Stiggins said Maynard has served as pastor of growing congregations and has consistently demonstrated the ability to think outside the box, turning creative ideas into reality.

“Some people can think outside the box. Some can make things happen,” Stiggins said. “But often the two skill sets don’t come together in one person, as they do in Phil.”

Maynard, who most previously served as senior pastor at Peace United Methodist Church in Orlando, said he will help churches rediscover their vitality. He said roughly 120 conference churches are involved with ReFocus and another 75 are in some stage of NCD.

“I want to help guide churches toward the process of greater health,” he said. “The standard process is looking at where God is leading them and seeing the opportunity and gauging how to reach it.”

Maynard said his goal is to help churches develop a sense of vision and strategic planning. Once that is accomplished, he will help them through the next phase of development, whether that’s NCD or another transformation process.

“I am excited about this position and working with churches and pastors,” he said. “ … I never imagined a great opportunity such as this to be involved in this division of ministry.”

With Perez-Felix and Maynard on board, Stiggins said he will focus his energy on communicating The Methodist Way, developing an OCT Web site and developing a healthy congregations metric system as an alternative to the church category survey. He said the new metric system, grounded in the Methodist Way, will be Internet-based.


This article relates to Congregational Transformation.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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