Let’s face it, 2020 has been a tough year. With the rest of our nation and world, we’ve struggled with a reality that was suffused in chaos and change. As we move into the new year, wrestling with change is an ongoing aspect of life. Though I hear the sentiment less and less, there are still those among us who are waiting and hoping for things to return to “the way they were.” No matter how much we might desire it, they will be no returning to the old “normal.” While potentially scary, this change offers exciting new possibilities and opportunities. The Holy Spirit is moving in our midst! Together, we share the joy and challenge of being a part of God’s new day!
The COVID pandemic has presented us with a fantastic opportunity to reimagine the future of the church and our ministries. The Lord is opening a door for us to try new things and experiment with new ideas, technologies and structures to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ in new ways. This is a time of new beginnings and new possibilities. Rev. Mike Ramsdell, executive director of the CTC’s Center for Evangelism, Missions, and Church Growth , has been writing about this in his weekly eNotes” blog for months, and continues to offer up excellent commentary and ideas on how churches can and should emerge from the pandemic as vital and strong new faith communities. If you aren’t a regular reader of Mike’s eNotes, I highly recommend you check them out at ctcumc.org/weekly-enotes.
As we move into this new year, the way our conference is embracing the opportunity to reimagine how we best energize and equip the local churches of the conference is through the Forward to a New Spring initiative approved by the 2020 Annual Conference.
Of course, as a Conference, we remain resolutely welded to our mission of making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This mission, which is also manifested as our Wildly Important Goal (WIG), also continues to be driven by our core values of keeping Christ at the Center; a focus on the local church; and lay and clergy leadership development. Now, more than ever, our world and our church desperately need leaders (both lay and clergy) who are sold out for Christ! – leaders who are focused on the local church and committed to our Wildly Important Goal (WIG!) of making disciples.
What’s new about Forward to a New Spring is revealed in how the conference and districts have reimagined their organizations to allow for more efficient, cost-effective, focused and direct resources to our ministries and church leadership committed to the WIG (Wildly Important Goal) of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
A crucial part of Forward to a New Spring in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ is building and cultivating District Discipleship Teams (DDT) that are resolutely committed to our mission and WIG. Each church now has access to an entire team for support. The District Discipleship Teams consist of five staff positions – two full-time, three part-time.
- District (or District Area) Superintendent (DS)
- Assistant District Superintendent (part-time)
- District Discipleship Coach (part-time)
- Student Discipleship Coordinator (part-time)
- District Administrator
The DS and District Administrator remain full-time staff members, though the role and focus of the DS is expected to shift away from the primarily administrative duties of the past and more to the role of mission strategist/coach as prescribed in the Exodus Project adopted in Nov. 2011. The Assistant DS (ADS), Discipleship Coach and Student Discipleship Coordinator are part-time members of the team (many of the part-time DDT members are also appointed as full-time clergy in the CTC).
The DDT members for each District Area were announced late in 2020 and officially began their roles on Jan. 1. As a reminder, here are the teams for each district area…
|East District Area||North-West District Area||South-Central District Area|
|District Superintendent||Dr. Randy Wild||Rev. Louis Carr||Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory|
|Assistant DS||Rev. Leslie Byrd||Rev. Jay Fraze||Rev. Pat McCain|
|Discipleship Coordinator||Rev. Sharon Reid||Rev. Joseph Nader||Rev. Gary White|
|Student Discipleship Coordinator||Claire Condrey||Rev. Nick Hamilton||Rev. Joann Dominguez|
|District Administrator||Amy Robbins||Katherine Hunter||Della Conner|
As we worked on building these teams, the Cabinet’s primary consideration was an overarching commitment to our collective mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Ongoing effectiveness in ministry was a foundational qualification.
As we began to narrow down the list of candidates, our criteria focused on discerning the following elements in the life, ministry and witness of the persons selected.
- Are they committed to the WIG as understood by the Conference Core Team and Cabinet?
- Do they exhibit a devotional “walk with Christ” in prayer and spiritual formation?
- Are they “calm and non-reactive” when faced with disagreement, controversy and conflict?
- Do they exhibit a deep sense of being “sold out “on our core values:
- Christ at the center,
- focus on the local church,
- lay and clergy leadership development.
- Will they be fair in handling “The Protocol” process should it be passed by General Conference?
- Can they “view the whole” of the Central Texas Conference and the Methodist movement – seeing beyond their own local church and District-specific interests?
- Do they exhibit an attitude and willingness to work as a part of the larger District, District Area and Conference teams?
Those selected demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the WIG and are equally committed to working as a part of the District Discipleship Team. We are quite blessed with a bevy of strong and committed clergy and lay leadership in our conference. It was only after weeks of careful and prayerful consideration, and collaborative discussions with district, local church and youth leadership across the CTC, that the Cabinet was able to discern those to make up our inaugural District Discipleship Teams.
You will be seeing more about the District Discipleship Teams in the coming weeks via our conference and district communications vehicles. I commend each one to you and ask that you pray for them and their ministries going forward.