Bishop’s Operational Team and Reimagining CCMC Report - AC2021

Bishop’s Operational Team and Reimagining CCMC Report - AC2021

June 10, 2021

Bishop's Operational Team Report Script
Barrie Tritle:
This Pandemic year has brought us all challenges we never imagined and has called us all to focus on being adaptive in our ministry and to truly become inventive in how we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Adaptive issues which the conference faces, have been the focus of our team since our inception.  Looking back to the 2017 Dream Team report to the Annual Conference we find an outline and explanation for the need of the conference to make deep adaptive changes so that it can become healthier and thrive into the future for Christ.  We as an Annual Conference authorized “the Bishop to appoint a ‘Healthy Conference Initiative Team’ (which is now called the Bishop’s Operational Team) so that the Conference may be guided through a process of adapting ourselves as a conference to become healthy and focused upon our vision, mission, and strategic priorities.”  

In the past five years, the Bishop’s Operational team in partnership with the Cabinet Operational Team has been coached by our SLI consultants Greg Survant and Christin Nevins in the principles and practices of SLI. We have Loved, Learned, and Lead together and we have practiced Relational, Spiritual, and Missional Accountability as a team in covenant. We have practiced active listening to the heart of the conference needs through our listening sessions, and continually seek to discern how to lead the Conference to become healthier and thriving.    

Some of the Adaptive Changes that have been accomplished by the Annual Conference over these years to move us toward our goal of being healthy and to thrive include: 

  1. We Clarified our Conference Vision: “God’s hope for the world made real through faithful leaders, fruitful communities, and fire-filled people.”   

  2. We Clarified our Conference Mission: “Inspire, equip and connect communities of faith to cultivate world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ.” 

  3. Aligned our Conference staffing according to our Strategic Priorities. 

  1. Reduced the Conference Budget to become more financially sustainable as a conference and reduce apportionments to the local churches. 

  1. Reduced the number of Districts from eight to five.   

  1. Created a new Model of Circuits. These are being implemented this year. Circuits are now our organizational design for our Conference, and they will become our operating system from where everything else functions.   

A lot has happened, but we continue to move forward as we face new adaptive challenges on our journey towards being healthy as a conference and thriving in our Vision, Mission, and Strategic Priorities.  Here are two new developments for the work of our Bishop’s Operational Team: 

  1. It has been an honor serving first on the Dream Team and then on the Bishop’s Operational Team over these past 6 years and I am now pleased to pass the facilitator role over to Jeff Branstetter and Ian Montgomery.   
  2. As we continue to move forward as a conference towards our goal of being healthy and thriving in our Vision, Mission, and Strategic Priorities we turn our attention to the next adaptive change in finding a new way of organizing our Conference Connectional Ministries Council.  Jeff will now share the beginning of that transformation with you.


CCMC Reimagining Team Script:
Jeff Branstetter

Hello, my name is Jeff Branstetter. Ian Montgomery and I, who both serve on the Bishop's Operational Team, were tasked with leading an effort to reimagine our Connectional Ministries.

Ian serves, besides on the Bishop's Operating Team, he's also Co-Lay Leader at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids and I serve the First United Methodist Church in Harlan, Iowa.

Why reimagined CCMC? Well, there are a few reasons.

First, the world's changing. Some of our ministries were very inactive. We have a new Circuit model appearing that we need to connect our Connectional Ministries with Circuits and local churches. And lastly, we have diminishing resources, both financial and human, to make differences through our Connectional Ministries. So that was the effort.

We also need to do a good job of aligning the Connectional Ministries with the Bishop's vision and mission for our conference. So that was the charge.

The first thing we did is, we went out and asked a lot of questions, and did a pretty good assessment of CCMC. We talked, we had a task team that helped us. We talked to CCMC boards and agencies. We asked the other Bishop Operational Team members, we gathered feedback from far and wide across the conference to really understand what CCMC challenges were and what was going well. And what should we do in the future?

There were some things that came out of the assessment that was particularly insightful.

First, we need some prioritization, we have literally 25 to 30 agencies. Some of them scattered, some of them very inactive, others doing really good work, but maybe not being communicated as effectively as they could.

Secondly, we had a number of inactive, so we need to decide what are we doing with them. We have them on the website, people click on and there's nothing there. So we've got to get organized so that a lot of the boards and agencies had trouble filling their boards with engaged and committed volunteers. Well, we all know without committed, committed and engaged volunteers, an agency cannot make a difference in our conference.

So based on the feedback we got, we made recommendations. I'll walk through some general summary of those recommendations. And there'll be much more information available on the website as we approach the annual conference.

So first, instead of having 20 agencies in a sporadic all over the place manner, we're aligning the agencies under two pillars. The first being outreach information, and the second pillar being advocacy and justice.

Now, there are some boards that straddle those two pillars, and that's okay. Because they will be communicating with each other. They're not separate, there'll be somewhat symbiotic in relationship to really get the important work done. So those two pillars will take our existing CCMC agencies, those being active, and align them under those two pillars and form a super board made up of either 10 to 12 members who will represent those agencies in decision making, mission action planning, and then funding.

Secondly, the inactive agencies and boards, for now, will be placed on the shelf per se. They won't be listed on the website. They could be reenacted if the need arises. But for now, we're going to put our focus on these active agencies and try to be truly difference makers.

The other thing we need to do is closely connect our Connectional Ministries with our new circuit structure that's being implemented. There's a lot of opportunities with the Circuits to align our Connectional Ministries with what those churches feel they can accomplish through their Circuits.

So a tremendous opportunity here to make Connectional Ministries what, I think, we all have hoped they could be in the future. So very exciting. Aligning Circuit Ministries with the Connectional Ministry seems like a real winner. We've got a lot of work to do to make that happen.
But that's kind of the summary of our recommendations. First of all, thank you to all the people that provided a lot of input on this effort. A lot of work went into it. We've been working on it for about six, seven months. We think the recommendations make a lot of good sense. And so, thank you again, and may God bless.

Conference Connectional Ministries Council (CCMC) Reimagining Team Report

Bishop Laurie’s Vision 2032 for the Iowa Annual Conference includes reimagining the Conference Connectional Ministries Council (CCMC) structure to ‘position us for more effective ministry and outreach.  A task force was formed in October 2020 to begin this work for the Bishop’s Operational Team (BOT).

Through many interviews and a couple of meetings of the CCMC Reimagining Task Force, a consensus was reached on the need for this reimagining work based on resource, operational culture, and partnership challenges. It was determined that:
  • CCMC must become more flexible, adaptive, and relevant to local church needs.
  • CCMC must become closely aligned with the emerging circuit ministry initiative, from the beginning of every circuit’s formation and development.  CCMC ministries should see circuits as ‘customers’, inspiring and assisting circuits via guidance, coaching, best practices, and facilitation specific to their specific areas.  They should become bridge-building and resource experts to circuits.  
  • Within the challenging financial circumstances of the Iowa Annual Conference, prioritization must be given to CCMC ministries that will make a difference. 
  • Key roles of the Conference should be to facilitate CCMC and its members by:
  1. Developing a clear, memorable structure that is communicated throughout the Iowa Conference.
  2. Finding, understanding, and clearly communicating best practices in connectional ministry development, operations, and support.
  3. Awarding seed grants, with future funding dependent on results achieved.
  4. Facilitating partnerships within UMC (Conference and General) and outside of UMC.
  5. Facilitating the greater deployment of volunteer lay resources, e.g., through a trainer-the-trainer approach. 
Proposed New CCMC Structure - Two Pillars
A reimagined CCMC structure should be based on two missionally-driven pillars: Formation/Outreach and Advocacy/Justice.  The common focus of these two CCMC pillars is to advance the Iowa Conference vision (‘make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world) from their respective, and often interrelated, perspectives.  Accountability of the pillars should be to the CCMC and its Director, who is a member of the Bishop’s Operations team.

Active CCMC ministries would collaborate with similarly-focused ministries within their pillar via scheduled pillar committee meetings (quarterly?), facilitated by pillar-dedicated staff and coaching resources.  The development of best practices and partnerships within and outside of the Iowa Conference should be key goals of each pillar.
Periodic joint meetings of the two pillar committees (twice annually?) as the new CCMC would foster information sharing and collaboration between them.  This structure is familiar to many in the Iowa Conference as ‘parent’ and ‘child’ committees.  It can be supplemented with task forces that are created for a specific purpose, after which the task force is dissolved.  Meetings of the two pillars and CCMC should use approved Iowa Conference organizational tools, especially MAPs and the L3 meeting process.
Active current ministry committees would be free to continue to meet as each of those ministry committees decides and if the Book of Discipline requires.

Examples of possible alignments and new ministries are shown below, to be finalized after further discussions within and between ministry committees, and with conference staff. 
  Examples of Formation & Outreach    Examples of Formation & Outreach 
  • Pastor and Laity Development
  • Camps/Retreats/Youth Formation
  • Board of Higher Ed/Campus Ministry                     
  • Inclusion (gender, ethnicity, disabled, LGBTQ)
  • Global Ministries
  • Immigration support
  • Immediate Community Response

Expansions of this high-level structural proposal will include proposed funding mechanisms, implementation timing, and membership nomination processes.  Preliminary ideas include that the new structure is operational in January 2022; that team members of each pillar will propose to CCMC their MAPs and annual funding requests; and that ministry membership nominations will chiefly emanate from the circuits.