By Robert Lyons*
God has many tools at his disposal from inspirational pastors to dedicated congregants, but in the Iowa Conference, his tools are that of two very important committees.
These two committees are the Bishop’s Operational Team and the Bishop’s Appointive Cabinet and members of both serve at the behest of Bishop Laurie. The Operational Team, which was the brainchild of the Iowa Conference’s Design Task Force, is the youngest of the committees having only started in September of 2015.
Both committees have been tasked with helping to remake the Iowa Conference into an agent of change, a source of inspiration, and pillar of support for the next generation of Iowa United Methodists. However, the committees differentiate along the lines of how they have been tasked with accomplishing this goal.
“The Operational Team was given three strategic priorities for the Conference,” explained Betty Stone, a member of the Operational Team since its inception. “One, increasing and revitalizing transforming communities of faith. Two, equipping ourselves and others as transformative leaders. And three, directing our resources towards commonly held goals.”
While the Operational Team is focused more on the overall Iowa Conference, the Appointive Cabinet, with representatives from each of the Conference’s districts, is focused on creating the capacity for adaptive change in each district.
“In the Southwest District, [we’re] working with congregations to develop discipleship pathways, inviting laity to become Certified Lay Ministers, and much more,” said Southwest District Superintendent Terra Amundson. “We want to equip our clergy and congregations to make disciples for the transformation of the world.”
Besides sharing an overall mission, both committees share involvement with Spiritual Leadership Inc. (SLI). SLI is a leadership development group the Iowa Conference partnered with almost two years ago.
(For more information about SLI’s role with the Iowa Conference and on “adaptive challenges,” please click HERE
“We work with both committees to help them address adaptive challenges within the Iowa Conference and develop leadership in all levels of the church hierarchy,” said Greg Survant,co-founder of SLI. “We’re currently working with these committees to create ‘child teams’ which will bring our work down to the district, regional, and local levels.”
Both the Operational Team and Appointive Cabinet are considered “parent teams” by SLI and any teams formed beneath them are referred to as “child teams.” The plan is then for each “child team” to have their own “child teams” and create a leadership “family tree.” Recommendations from these “child teams” will then flow back to the top of the “family tree.”
“We have helped the Appointive Cabinet create eight child teams for each of the Conference’s districts and the Operational Team now has a child team for each of their three strategic priorities,” said Christin Nevins, an SLI coach working with the two committees. “That’s not only a big deal, it’s a big accomplishment for these committees and the Conference.”
For the committee members working with SLI, the partnership has been and is continuing to be viewed as empowering, energizing, and valuable.
“SLI helps us grow as spiritual leaders and they model a community of spiritual leaders who work together to move the Conference forward,” said Paul Smith, the Appointive Cabinet’s representative for the Southcentral District. “What I’ve learned is that leadership is not becoming something that you’re not, it’s becoming more of what you already are.”
For the Operational Team, SLI’s assistance proved invaluable in ensuring the group’s success.
“When we started, we knew we needed structure and a unified purpose but we didn’t know how to make that happen,” explained Stone. “SLI brought us that structure and because of the framework they helped us to create, our work and purpose will live on.”
Going into their second and final year of partnership with SLI, the two committees each have their own priorities and concerns going forward.
“On the Appointive Cabinet, we’re really looking to create a space for adaptive leadership to happen,” said Smith. “But our biggest emphasis looking ahead is aligning what resources we have available as a conference with the opportunities before us.”
Stone sees a future of engagement and inclusivity for the Operational Team.
“We’ll need to get more people involved so that more people understand what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Stone. “We are a diverse organization and compromises will have to be made moving forward. It will be a process, but it will be a rewarding, ongoing process.”
Click here for more information about these two committees
. A list of members for each committee can be found below:
Bishop’s Appointive Operational Cabinet:
Bishop Laurie Haller, Rev. William Poland, Rev. Dr. Heecheon Jeon, Rev. Kiboko Kiboko, Rev. Dr. Harlan Gillespie, Rev. Jackie Bradford, Rev. Dr. Tom Carver, Rev. Paul Smith, Rev. Dr. Lilian Gallo Seagren, Rev. Terra Amundson
Bishop’s Operational Team:
Bishop Laurie Haller, Rev. William Poland, Joni Mardesen, Rev. Dr. Arthur McClanahan, Maggie Biggs, Rev. Karen Dungan, Betty Stone, Margaret Borgen, Rev. Dr. Barrie Tritle, Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck
*Robert Lyons is a student intern from Simpson College who is working with the Communications Ministry Team this semester