Moving Forward ©

A video message from Bishop Lowry is available at the end of this post.  
So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith. Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.  (Galatians 6: 9-10)

In this time of chaos and change, it is understandable to at times lose some heart – to have a feeling of hopelessness and dread. Every single church in the Central Texas Conference, has had to adjust, re-adjust and then adjust again in order to find effective ways of doing ministry during this COVID-19 pandemic. And, here we go again. As the wonderful season of Advent is soon to begin, the cases of COVID-19 are spiking at alarming rates across the nation. Once again, the creativity and perseverance of the Central Texas Conference clergy and lay leadership will be needed so that our churches may continue to be a remarkable witness to our communities of the love of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. (Along with the Cabinet of the Central Texas Conference, I wish share both our admiration and appreciation for your faithfulness to our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.)
Of course, this pandemic will not last forever. Schools and businesses and churches will be able to open again without radical health concerns, but things will NOT be the same. So, for those who are waiting and hoping for things to return to “normal,” to go back to the way things were before the term "coronavirus" was ever in our common lexicon, I’m sorry, that’s just not going to happen…AND THAT’S ACTUALLY QUITE EXCITING!
The COVID pandemic has actually presented us with a fantastic opportunity to reimagine the future of the church and our ministries. This allows us to try new things, experiment with new ideas and technologies and structures to reach people in new ways – people we may have never had a chance to reach before. Each of our churches has the opportunity to act as if they are a New Church Start with all the possibilities and excitement that comes with such new ventures.
I believe the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives offering hope and possibilities for a new day and greater witness in our mission field. Together as a conference, we have worked on and adopted the Forward to New Spring strategy for the Central Texas Conference, which provides an enhanced conference and district structure that shifts resources closer to where disciples of Jesus Christ are best made - the local church.
Please allow me to emphasize: Forward to a New Spring is absolutely not a new program or direction for the conference. In fact, it is simply a continuance and extension of what we began together 10 years ago this month with the formal adoption of the Exodus Project. Our mission / Wildly Important Goal to make disciples of Jesus Christ is still at the center of our ministry. Our vision of growing vibrant and vital congregations remains steadfast. Our driving values – what I like to call our Big Three – of keeping Christ at the Center, A fervent focus on the local church and developing the next generation of lay and clergy leadership – are still firmly in place.
Later today, Monday, Nov. 23, we will be announcing the members of our District Discipleship Teams. Starting in January, in addition to the District Superintendent, who will be able to spend more time teaching, coaching and doing the work of mission strategist as outlined in the Exodus Project, each district in the conference will now have direct access to

  • an Assistant DS who will work directly with clergy and church leaders to expand their existing abilities and establish new ways to reach new people for Christ as well as support the DS in administrative matters;

  • a Discipleship Coach who will focus on helping churches and clergy grow in the work of discipling new and existing members;

  • a Student Discipleship Coordinator whose primary focus will be coaching youth directors, volunteer youth leaders, clergy, and churches on ways to improve their discipleship ministry for students; (I’d like to take a moment to thank our CCYM youth leadership teams along with Conference staff and Cabinet members for all of their work and invaluable input on how to best shape and staff this position.)

  • and a District Administrator who will continue to support the DS, District Teams and local churches by fulfilling various administrative duties

I’d like to express my excitement for all those who have answered the call to fill these vital district positions even while continuing in their regular appointments and places of ministry  (watch your email, the conference website and social media for more details). Please keep each of them in prayer as they prepare for this new venture in service to our conference.
Jesus is at work in the world and particularly here in our conference, and through the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit is creating something new and wonderful. Together we share the joy and challenge of being a part of God’s new day!

To view Bishop Lowry's video message, click in the below. To download and share on your website and social media, click the link below the video player.
Vimeo on Central Texas Conference UMC from Forward to a New Spring - An Update from Bishop Lowry