“I feel the Spirit moving,” Bishop Julius Trimble said in the course of the most recent meeting of the Ministry Cabinet. “We’re connected to a power that’s inexhaustible” concurred Rev. Rebecca Fisher, Leadership Development Minister for Evangelism and New Ministries.
The focus on emerging communities of faith, a conversation that included members of the Parish Development Committee, was “a helpful dialogue” noted Rev. Bruce Wittern, the Committee’s chairperson. “I’m excited,” he added, because the two-day gathering the Ministry Cabinet “described some twenty new communities. We didn’t know about some of these ministries.”
The Ministry Cabinet, which includes the Conference Superintendents, Field Outreach Ministers, members of the Extended Cabinet, the Conference Lay Leader, and the Director of Pastoral Care, gathered at the Conference Center on February 11 and 12. “We were praying and waiting. We shared different stories. We experienced the power of the Spirit that moved in and through us. Something that the Ministry Cabinet has been wanting for a long time, which is to see a clear vision of where to focus, has actually come to pass,” Rev. Fisher recounted.
The key question under consideration was the potential reach of the communities and “the embrace of diversity” observed Rev. Fisher. “This is a movement of change, a movement of change that will affect everything,” she added. “We found that there are tremendous opportunities among the Sudanese, French-speaking African communities, Hispanic-Latin communities, and multi-cultural communities. The biggest thing is that today we were able to put a focus on areas where we can start.”
“What we have before us is missionally urgent” Rev. Bill Poland, Assistant to the Bishop for Administration, told the group. “It’s time to look at the State, where populations are beginning to emerge. We need to be aware of mission, in advance.” Rev. Harlan Gillespie, Conference Superintendent for the North Central District suggested, “We need to be responsive to what comes to us, to what we don’t plan for.”
“Sometimes ministries simply emerge,” observed Rev. David Weesner, The Central District’s Superintendent. “Sometimes the call to be in ministry with a particular group of people just emerges and you know it by the grace of God. We’ve been praying about this.” Rev. Dr. Karen Nelson, the Central District’s Field Outreach Minister spoke about the ministry with people from South Sudan. “They came to us, the pastor and the people, and you respond.”
In other cases there is an intentional outreach and new church start. “Known populations constantly change, constantly shift,” Dr. Nelson said. “Even so, the vision, the focus stays the same. Who they’re working with, where they’re working, and how they’re working is shifting…and this shows us how nimble we have to be in new church starts. That’s exciting because that’s how ministry happens.”
Collectively the Ministry Cabinet committed to work with three emerging communities during a first year and identified several more to focus on in succeeding years. In the upcoming months the expressed goal is to develop a five-year plan for new ministry starts.
In other work, the Ministry Cabinet is crafting a ministry covenant unity statement that will express values and beliefs considered to be essential, describe the primary tasks of leadership that the Ministry Cabinet provides for the local and wider church, and begin to address major issues.
Bishop Trimble said of the meeting, "In my six years I have never experienced as much focus, collaboration and passion around reaching new people through new communities of faith."