The purpose of the SLT, as defined at its formation in 2010, is to “clarify the vision of the Annual Conference, ensure this vision is accomplished, and ensure the alignment of all Annual Conference resources and ministries with the vision.” This interim report expresses our consensus for a portion of this work in progress. The SLT has been meeting monthly over the past two years to assess current processes and structure and discern and clarify the vision of the Annual Conference. During this time we have engaged in conversations with present conference leadership and have sought input from various elements across the conference. The SLT is chaired by Bishop Carter and is composed of the following clergy and lay persons: Bob Bushong, Rini Hernandez, Beth Fogle-Miller, Betty Gissendanner, Russ Graves, Dale Locke, Chuck Mallue, Liz McCafferty, Annette Stiles Pendergrass, Alex Shanks, Jeff Stiggins, and Alice Williams.
We offer the following interim report to the Annual Conference on the progress and work we have undertaken to date. The next steps are still in process and we continue to welcome your insights and prayers.
1. We affirm, with the 2012 Book of Discipline, the role of the District Superintendent as the "chief missional strategist" in leading our churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
2. We affirm the spirit of the "Call to Action" and seek to redirect the flow of resources and energy and resources to the local level (i.e. the district and the local church), where disciples of Jesus Christ are nurtured.
3. We value many of the tools and strategies that have been developed by our conference in recent years and call upon these as foundational resources to help share the future. We applaud and support the spirit of experimentation in seeking to extend the Kingdom of God in our conference. We greatly value and wish to engage the gifts of all persons, as we do the necessary work that will support structural change.
4. We recognize the need to align our resources effectively, particularly in support of renewing our mission, transforming church cultures, extending the influence of United Methodism and forming new congregations. This alignment of resources will impact apportionments, staffing, and the relations between the Districts and the Conference. As a result, we believe that some administrative tasks related to fiscal oversight and property will move from the Districts to the Conference.
5. We renew our commitment to diversity and radical hospitality as expressions of the Kingdom of God in the ministry of transforming existing congregations, developing new congregations and calling forth both clergy and lay leadership. We will ensure that any changes to strategy, structure and process honor and strengthen our multicultural diversity.
6. We envision staffing at the Annual Conference level that will resource the missional strategy of each of our nine districts. Each district is distinct, and the District Superintendent, in collaboration with lay leadership and district staffing, will identify the resources needed to strengthen the churches and ministries in his or her district. To further enable each district to live into the mission, we envision making resources available to help with congregational vitality and the other needs of the varying superintendents.
7. The SLT, in consultation with the appointive cabinet, has adopted the following model for conference staffing, to be implemented in July, 2013:
The ministries of Congregational Excellence and New Church Development will become the Office of Congregational Vitality. This area will be led by one person (lay or clergy) in Congregational Transformation, and one person (lay or clergy) in New Church Development, along with the appropriate administrative support. We envision a stronger collaboration between this office and the formation of teaching churches in our annual conference.
The ministry of Clergy Excellence will remain as it is currently staffed. Some facets of New Church Development (i.e. recruitment of church planters) and Congregational Excellence (i.e. models for leadership development) will be integrated into this area.
A new area, Missional Engagement, will be created to respond to the missional needs of our increasingly complex multicultural conference. This area will be led by a person (clergy or lay) who will focus on the health, growth and sustainability of our missions and the identification, recruitment and formation of pastoral leadership in these communities. We will continue to staff our connectional work with our covenant partners in global mission and the ministries of justice and reconciliation.
The leaders of these three areas--Congregational Vitality, Clergy Excellence and Missional Engagement--will convene with the Director of Connectional Ministries. Along with the Director of Communications, these persons will function as a conference resource team. This resource team will be responsible to integrate work efforts and role functions, seek to eliminate redundancy, develop communication tools and resources that will support a common vision and align the resources and gifts that are present in our annual conference. A yet to be determined by-product of this change in staffing will be a reduction in cost at the conference level. All of this is motivated by a desire to redirect the flow of energy and resources to the local level where it can have the most impact. This also has positive implications for multiculturalism, as Florida is blessed with a growing ethnic diversity.
8. Discernment of leadership for these new staffing arrangements will occur within the appointive cabinet in 2013, in some instances through search processes and other conversations around our gifts and needs, and in consultation with present staff and our office of human resources. This ongoing consultation will be advisory to the appointive cabinet. These changes will also need to be reflected in a revised set of standing rules to be presented at Annual Conference, along with some revision of existing boards and committees.
9. The SLT has agenda items and areas of focus beyond conference staffing, and this ongoing work will be shared at District meetings in the Spring of 2013 and at the 2013 Annual Conference event. This interim report is not intended to be comprehensive of all the work the SLT has been engaged in or will be engaged in into the future. Works remains in other areas such as camping, disaster relief or campus ministries, or strategic planning, or leadership development. This interim report expresses our consensus for a portion of this work in progress. Again, we are grateful for your insights and prayers.
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011