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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    Moving outside my comfort zone through Leadership Academy

    June 25, 2018 / By Pastor Warren VanDewark, Edwards Chapel UMC and Watts Flats UMC

    Editor's Note: This article was originally publisged in the Spring 2018 issue of the Advocate, which focused on spiritually planning our way forward to create leaders and vital congregations in Upper New York.

    Leadership Academy is just what you would expect it to be; it’s about leadership, but that term “leadership” for the pastor could mean many things. Leadership Academy challenged my ideas of what the role of the pastor looks like. I’ve always seen myself as a quiet leader working from within the fellowship, maybe as a shepherd who prods the flock from behind, hoping we all get to the same place together. Yes, I realize my voice does carry some weight when expressing God’s Word from the pulpit, but for the most part I prefer calm waters.

    The Rev. Aaron Bouwens and his excellent choice of teachers will cause you to stretch a little bit. We have been placed into a position of leadership, and it is time we started leading and finding leaders for the cause of Christ! Jasmine Smothers from Atlanta was a recent guest presenter who led us in a session about finding our “Why.” She has an in-your-face approach to leadership that draws the very best out of you. I’m not saying that you will be turned into Moses parting the waters with my staff, but we will have to boldly challenge our congregations to move out of our comfort zones into new territory.

     If I can be perfectly honest with you, the reason I signed up for Leadership Academy was because leadership is my weakest point in ministry (my view) and I needed some further education credits! We are at about the middle of the curriculum and it is well worth your time, regardless of where you are in your ministry, young or old, ordained, or not.

    TAGGED / Advocate


    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 867 local churches and 65 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."