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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    Conference Operational Team and Conference Leadership Team meet to love, learn, and lead

    March 1, 2021 / By Conference Operational Team and Conference Leadership Team

    On Feb. 19 and Feb. 20, the Conference Operational Team and Conference Leadership Team met through Zoom using the L3 model of loving, learning, and leading

    The two teams meet together at least twice a year to experience each team in their primary roles. The Operational Team is focused on developing strategies to embody the mission, vision, purpose, and goals of the Conference. While the Conference Leadership Team is focused on ensuring the work of the Conference remains headed in the direction of mission, vision, and purpose. As the Operational Team engages in their work, they are guided and advised by the Conference Leadership Team.

    Members of the Conference Operational team include: Upper New York (UNY) Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb; UNY Director of Connectional Ministries and Executive Assistant to the Bishop, the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding; UNY Director of Vital Congregations, the Rev. Dr. Aaron Bouwens; Carmen Vianese; Niagara Frontier District Superintendent, the Rev. Carlos Rosa-Laguer; the Rev. Dr. Scott Johnson; Crossroads and Finger Lakes District Superintendent, the Rev. Nola Anderson; the Rev. Drew Sperry, and Lindsay Martin.

    Members of the Conference Leadership Team include: Bishop Webb, Rev.Bill Gottchalk-Fielding; Conference Lay Leader Drew Griffin; Susan Hardy; Valerie Clark; Rev. Drew Sperry; Rev. Steven Taylor; Rev. Harold Wheat; Director of Communications, Steve Huestedt; the Rev. Nola Anderson; and the Rev. Aaron Bouwens.

    The time started with the Operational Team meeting on their own on Feb. 19 and began with a time of loving God and each other through, worship, prayer, and checking in around the spiritual wellbeing of the team members. Next, the team moved to a time of learning as they discussed Tod Bolsinger’s book, Tempered Resilience.

    The remainder of the time was spent discussing how to provide leadership guided by a Master Ministry Action Plan (MAP) with a vision to move toward spiritual vitality and revival through developing a culture of radical discipleship (A MAP is a step-by-step process used to help identify how to live into a desired outcome. Click here for a MAP template).  To accomplish this, a goal of 50 percent of local congregations being highly vital by 2025 has been set. The MAP identifies the three key strategies to reach the goal as:

    • Discover Christ followers who are called and gifted for transformational leadership especially in operational and area teams
    • Develop a culture that increases the capacity of Christ following transformational leaders
    • Deploy  Christ following transformational leaders into faith communities

    Specifically, the team heard from a sub-team who is developing strategies for greater whole-life wellness of clergy leaders. Significant time was also given to strategies of increasing the alignment of Conference teams around the mission, vision, and purpose of the Conference. These focuses would be shared and further perfected the next day with the Conference Leadership Team. 

    The following day, the Conference Operational Team and the Conference Leadership Team were together and once again used the L3 model. The time started with Spiritual Formation and prayer led by the Rev. Sherri Rood, which was followed by a time of Check-in and Accountability. The two teams noted that they had not updated their personal spiritual goals since January of 2020. Given the extensive changes in the world and the ministry of the Upper New York Conference the individual spiritual goals of team members were updated.

    The time of loving was followed by a time of learning. They began by reviewing Tempered Resilience together. Though it had been discussed by the Conference Operational Team the day before, the additional insights from the CLT and time to reflect on the previous day’s conversation made for a very fruitful conversation.

    There was then a discussion on Conference and denominational realities. Through the discussion a few of things became apparent. Upper New York churches have had a challenging year but have continued to do good and faithful ministry. The value of the Upper New York and United Methodist Connection has also been very clear in this challenging year. Finally, leaders have had an amazing response to these challenges the last year has provide, but they are getting tired. This is especially true for clergy and led directly into the leading portion of the two teams’ time together.

    The two teams further discussed greater whole-life wellness of clergy as well as alignment of Conference teams around the mission. Once again, these discussions were framed by the two teams’ Master MAP.

    This also led to a discussion about a relaunch of the Dashboard to help measure how many leaders are being Discovered, Developed, and Deployed in Upper New York.

    Upon the completion of their time together the two teams closed with prayer. The next meeting of the Conference Operational Team will be in March and the next meeting of The Conference Leadership Team will be in April.


    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 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."